Sunday, April 6, 2008

White House Yawns At MLK Anniversary

Friday was a day that the world remembered the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., who was killed 40 years ago in Memphis. Hillary Clinton and John McCain spoke to audiences in Memphis. In Chicago, Barack Obama spoke about King's legacy.

While the world commemorated King's achievements, the 40th anniversary seemed to draw nothing more than a big yawn at the White House. George W. Bush met with the prime minister of Romania. The only comment the White House had on the MLK anniversary was a short, bland, generic statement on the White House Web site. By contrast, the statement for something called "National Tartan Day" was actually much lengthier than the White House statement about King.

It's clear at this point that Bush can't even be bothered to go through the motions of acting like he cares about African-Americans. (Actually, this was apparent to many Americans long before Kanye West's "George Bush doesn't care about black people" remark during a Hurricane Katrina benefit concert).

Bush has long shown complete and utter contempt for civil rights. In this regard, he's following in the Bush family footsteps. (Recall how his father, George H.W. Bush, campaigned against the 1964 Civil Rights Act).

During the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush made it a point to stop by Bob Jones University, where he praised the officials at that school (which incredibly still had a ban on interracial dating). This, no doubt, played real well to the "I don't want my white daughter dating a Negro" racist crowd---but the rest of us were shocked and appalled.

Indeed, in the Bush era, we've seen nothing less than the return of Jim Crow. How else to explain things like the 2000 election, in which record numbers of black voters were disenfranchised. As Greg Palast has documented, about one million black voters didn't count in the 2000 presidential election.

Against this backdrop, it shouldn't really be surprising that the 40th anniversary of King's assassination drew nothing more than a big yawn at the White House.