Martin Luther King , Jr.

Race Man

After several weeks of swooning, news reports are finally being filed about the gap between Senator Barack Obama’s promises of a pure, soul-cleansing “new” politics and the calculated, deeply dishonest conduct of his actually-existing campaign.

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Mlk And The War In Iraq

On Martin Luther King Day, James Carroll wrote a piece in the Boston Globe about Martin Luther King, Jr. As it happens, it was an article riddled with well-meaning cliches. And far-fetched stretches. And, of course, you can't write about a sainted figure without writing about the devil. The devil is George Bush. Carroll writes: "Today, the war in Iraq is both a symptom and a cause of the chronic disease of U.S. violence. Bush feeds the virus, and it infects every organ of the body politic. King would be appalled at the way guns now shape the hopelessness of young black men.

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A Moral Revolutionary

Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Stephen B. Oates (Harper & Row, 416 pp., $18.95) When Robert Kennedy tried to get Dr. King to call off the freedom rides, he appealed to patriotism: "The President is going abroad, and this is embarrassing him." It is hard to remember how unthinkable criticism of America was as the 1960s began. William Buckley said the civil rights movement was de facto pro-Communist, since it gave aid and comfort to the enemy by admitting America was imperfect.

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Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by David J. Garrow (Yale University Press; $15.00) "The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men," declared President Lyndon B. Johnson when he signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. All the participants in the bloody events at Selma, Alabama, which led up to that legislation, agreed with the president. "Voting is the foundation stone for political action," announced Dr.

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Oversell

From Poverty to Dignity By Charles Hampden-Turner (Doubleday; $8.95) The Great Society programs of the ‘60s, Daniel Patrick Moynihan remarked in his Politics of the Guaranteed Annual Income, were “oversold and underfinanced” to the point that their failure seemed almost to have been a matter of design. Such overselling, Hampden-Turner’s new book makes clear, is not confined to the Establishment Center.

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This piece was originally published on August 24, 1968. William Faulkner located Mulberry Street so precisely and described its major industry so vividly in one of his early novels that lustful visitors from the rural mid-South memorized the passage and used it as their guide to the rows of dingy houses where three-dollar whores did business until the military authorities forced the city to clean up the neighborhood during World War II. Before virtue was imposed, white customers had access to white girls and black girls-in different houses, of course.

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