Contributed by Vic Kohring
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is one my favorite quotes from Dr. King, as it applies so succinctly to my situation. Our government denied me justice a decade ago when they framed me on minor issues, pressured a key witness to commit perjury, concealed evidence and then engaged in a cover-up. All with a compliant judge with a personal ax to grind who repeatedly denied me my right to a fair trial.
Now we've learned that the FBI has routinely used their agency for years as a weapon to attack and discredit political opponents, including our current president. No surprise. It's well documented that even King was the target of the FBI. Remember the racist J. Edgar Hoover?
The fact is, if the legal and constitutional rights of Americans are so routinely violated, then we all are vulnerable as King so adeptly noted.
Martin Luther King died tragically 50 years ago this month, when cut down by an assassin's bullet. I was 9 years old at the time and living in Chugiak, but remember the incident well. I recall being in Anchorage a week later and seeing photographs of his funeral in magazines on a newsstand. I was shocked and felt profound sadness even as a kid.
Five years before in August 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He spoke of judging others “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. I often think of these words and try to follow King's advice by not being quick to judge others until I first get to know them.
King would be appalled to see how segregated our society is in 2018 with splinter groups that are breaking us apart instead of bringing us together. Black Lives Matter is an example. The group's basic premise which I support – to highlight concerns of oppressed minorities - is admirable and should be addressed. Discrimination has no place in America and needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. Police brutality has no place either.
But Black Lives Matter leaders have taken their advocacy to the extreme by encouraging looting, rioting and violence against others. A BLM supporter shot five Dallas police officers in 2016. A police station is Oakland was vandalized and an interstate freeway in Miami shut down that disrupted the lives of many. King, on the other hand, was a man of peace who appealed for non-violence. “All Lives Matter” would better reflect his thinking, as he was inclusive of all races, creeds and colors, and believed in dialogue instead of physically striking out against another with whom you disagree.
King was a liberal and I'm conservative. But regardless of philosophies and party affiliations, we all want justice under the law and to be treated equally and fairly. It's not a Democrat or Republican issue. It's a human rights issue.
Sadly, Barack Obama fueled racial divisions in America. We all hoped and expected that he would unite us as a country with his flowing rhetoric and “Yes, we can.” theme in 2008, but he used his presidency to pit races against each other. He fanned the flames of discord with hostile utterances such as encouraging his Latino supporters to “punish our enemies and reward our friends”. It seems as if race relations were set back decades during his tenure. What a waste of eight years and a horrid legacy to leave behind.
It's too bad our first black president wasn't Martin Luther King, a far superior leader who possessed a solid moral compass - Christian values, integrity and genuine compassion for others. Although not perfect and with faults like everyone, he was a great man.
Let's honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by putting our differences aside. Remember that we all desire the basics of life, liberty and happiness and work to achieve that goal.