SOLOMON: Honoring King While Clouding His Legacy

Whether by design or a random twist of fate, President Clinton's return to Washington from his historic Africa trip came just before the 30th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr.Another laudatory statement from the White House was predictable. Like countless other politicians, Clinton often pays tribute to King -- while selectively praising his legacy.But imagine the media uproar if Clinton had stepped off Air Force One and proceeded to quote some of King's less palatable assertions.For instance, in a speech exactly one year before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, King declared: "A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth." And he denounced "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."The mass media and both major parties have no use for this sort of talk. They like the safe images of King as a great orator, a brave civil-rights leader, a martyr on a postage stamp.King's denunciations of predatory investments in the Third World may seem outdated or exaggerated. After all, journalists and pundits frequently tell us, investments from abroad are key to the uplift of poor nations, especially in this era of economic globalization.But the truth is more complex -- and the continent that President Clinton just visited is a prime example. You wouldn't know it from the usual media coverage, but foreign investors have brought widespread calamities to Africa.The popular myth is that the West has poured humanitarian aid into Africa. But in the real world, more money is flowing ITAL>out

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