Harry Belafonte on MLK: Social Justice, Non-violently, is Still the Way

By Thomas Heaney

Will any Republican speak truth to power and mean it?

To this day, there are living luminaries who still attest to the inspiration of knowing Martin Luther King well. One is Harry Belafonte. Harry has been on the interview circuit promoting his autobiography, My Song, and relating his personal story after having served in the US Navy during WWII. Like so many black soldiers, sailors, and airmen, his military contributions were rewarded with discrimination upon his return. Despite having a ravaged voice and his age of 85 years, Harry Belafonte is still a powerful truth teller.

Sadly, there is so precious little truth telling on display in our political process. It seems the likes of Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have only recently been willing to discuss issues of economic justice as a way of bringing down Mitt Romney. While that is helpful to the Progressive cause, it is sad that actual truth telling is now a strategy only desperate Republicans are willing to embrace.

For his part, Romney has proved to be creepier and more of a shill for rich folks than previously imagined. Acknowledging enjoyment taken from firing people is an odd thing to proclaim in the midst of our current sluggish recovery. Of course, this comes from a guy who fired a lot of workers and liquidated a lot of businesses. In Republican-land, that’s supposed to mean something positive in terms of managerial acumen.

I’m not seeing it. Worse, the message from Romney’s camp is to try to dismiss those seeking economic justice as simply envious of what rich people have. Mitt is proving his mettle as GOP front-runner by serving up galling lies such as this without shame.

It is ironic and odd that a pseudo-ecumenical Christian chorus of Gingrich, Perry, and Huntsman is now assailing Mitt in hopes of prevailing in South Carolina. While the rhetoric and occasional citing of facts are cause for minor celebration, there is an ugly under-current of deliberate intolerance and bigotry at work. That strategy has been proven effective with the South Carolina electorate as well. It seems being a Mormon is a bit on the exotic side of Christianity for some of the overly zealous supporters of neo-Catholic Newt and Evangelical darlings Perry and Santorum.

No doubt there will be more acts to the sideshow to view for pure entertainment value, if not for intellectual honesty. It seems only Romney and Paul filed required documents on time in Virginia. Despite legal action to the contrary, the others simply could not get the rules changed in the middle of the game.

In any event, the small Republican tent seems to feature mostly clowns and freaks. The price of admission is high and the entertainment value is limited. For my money, Harry Belafonte’s old recordings and new book provide much more entertainment, value and best of all, truth.

Photo: Wikipedia 

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