Recently I re-read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 classic “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, as powerful a testament of the American ideal as has been written this side of The Declaration of Independence. There is no better exposition on natural law as it applies to contemporary public policy issues. In reading these words, I couldn’t help but reflect on the juxtaposition of them with the dialogue from Harvard professor Cornel West and that of his surrogates, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as they dealt with the “disrespect” shown by Harvard’s President, Larry Summers, in his criticism of West’s and his colleagues’ Afro-American Studies program. The Dr. King of 1963 (if not the later version) would be appalled at the level to which the current “stewards” of his legacy have sunk. Even arch-liberal Al Hunt agrees that their “silly conduct reinforces the political bankruptcy of these national black politicos……..(who) seem often irrelevant, relying chiefly on a press that feeds and stokes the faux conflicts on which they thrive.” The sad end of this story is that what Shelby Steele has so aptly described as the “muteness of white guilt” succeeded in forcing Mr. Summers into appeasement, a complete compromise of institutional moral authority, and deference to mediocrity. Not a credit to MLK’s legacy.
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