Tuesday, January 18, 2005

On the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

I spent the day yesterday by spending time with my family. Taking the opportunity to enjoy their company rather than run hither and tither. So I had some time to think of what the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday meant to me personally. What I found is that I am torn about the day.

On the one hand I greatly admire Dr. King. In the tradition of the greatest of Americans, he stood up for what he saw as in injustice. And and injustice it was. Racism was rampant in the United States and in many ways and places had become institutionalized. Without regard for his personal safety he fought back against those who would have keep him and other oppressed and waged a campaign of non-violent protests against that injustice. He faced mad crackers with firehoses, batons, firearms and attack dogs. Yet in the face of such opposition, he didn't falter.

On the otherhand, the holiday has become something of a symbol of the opposite. The legislation which established Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday smacks of a huge political favor. Making a holiday to score political points with people who's support can potentially bring votes. The holiday also conjures thoughts of Affirmative Action. Hiring people on the basis of skin color rather than skill. Affirmative Action is a good idea in theory, however in practice, in the U.S. it has just become another form of discrimination.