Count me as disappointed in the overall message and theme of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington, when it could and should have been an event worthy of the commemoration of a significant turning point event in American history.
First, the celebration had all the earmarks of a partisan Democrat rally. Not one Republican was on stage. President Bush 43 was invited, but couldn’t attend. Where was Sen. Tim Scott? Where was Justice Clarence Thomas? Just to name a couple of those inexplicably missing.
Second, what would Dr. King think about the messages and the commentary? Where was any mention of the tragic disintegration of the black family, of the 73% of black births out of wedlock, of the cultural rot of the rap industry, of the disaster in the urban education system and the teacher union veto on the truth about it, of the disgraceful failure to socialize black male youth? These are themes that I suspect Dr. King would have brought to our attention. And the commentary from spokesmen and reporters in the days ahead of the celebration was derelict in its failure to address any of these questions. Instead, it was all about the voter ID laws, the Trevon Martin verdict, the “attacks” on affirmative action, the “rollback” of the Voting Rights Act, the perpetual grievance message in general, the appeal for more government programs, for unending “conversations on race”. One example–Colin Powell on Face the Nation–some credit acknowledged for the enormous racial progress that has been made since 1963, but not a word about the current pathologies in the black community or taking personal responsibility for any of them.
Finally, most disappointing was the appearance of President Obama as the headline speaker of the day. He appropriately celebrated the courage and perseverance of the civil rights leaders of the March, who deserve their place in history. But he could have greatly improved on the overall theme of his remarks, which were filled with the politics of polarization, critical of “entrenched interests” who benefit from an “unjust status quo” predicated on greed and resistant to government efforts through redistribution to give working families a “fair deal”, etc., etc. Is this the message of a uniter, not a divider? Does this message accord proper recognition of the many millions of Americans of all races and ethnicities who still revere Dr. King’s words from that day a half century ago that asked us to judge not by skin color but by content of character? King’s dream, as he said, was rooted in the American founding documents, in the classical liberal tradition grounded in negative liberty, or freedom from government tyranny. But this concept of liberty is anathema to the progressive left, which wants positive rights to material things, and this is the ideology from which Obama originates. We’ve come a long way from the true meaning of Dr. King’s eloquent words on that day.