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A Martin Luther King Needs a Malcolm X

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Unforgiveness as National Policy

There is a problem with the kind of forgiveness as national policy that I described in a blog post back in November:

There are many things African Americans bring to the American cultural mix that has emerged in the new century. African Americans themselves often say that one of the greatest contributions is our huge capacity for forgiveness.

The problem is you have to find the right balance. There are times when justice, vindictiveness and retribution have to also be part of national policy. We also need animosity to burn in consciousness long enough to make the injustice stop, no matter how long that takes.

I thought of this while I waited for returns from the special election in Massachusetts Tuesday night. Many voters obviously thought President Obama had been too forgiving. The Obama administration has given billions of our dollars to the banks, in effect forgiving them for mismanaging our money in the first place, believing, evidently, that if forgiven the banks would exercise some fairness toward those who gave them the money.

Instead banks did not loosen credit to small businesses. They began charging even higher interest rates on consumer credit cards, and they didn't even return phone calls to countless Americans trying to readjust their mortgages to keep from being thrown out of their homes in the dead of winter.

The process of rich stealing from the poor has existed from the very beginnings of the nation. However, the nation built a strong, protected middle class until Reaganomics stripped away the protections the rich have been stealing from the middle class.

Senators themselves, insurance moguls, hedge fund operators, and drug companies have been getting filthy rich while millions of middle-class Americans were losing their jobs, and joining those who do not have food to eat, roofs over the heads, abilities to send their children to school.

Tuesday night I thought of the 4th-grader, Terence Scott, who I mentioned in the November post. The youngster asked the President:

"Why do people hate you?" The youngster seemed earnest and genuinely distressed about harsh words he's heard people direct at the 44th President, said the coverage of the story. "They are supposed to love you," said the youngster, "and God is love."

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As I watched the election lost, I felt ashamed of the theme in so much of black music about "love will find a way." It's like someone you tried to love (Republicans) spitting in your face, figuratively, Barack, and some of the people on your side (Tim Geithner). . . never really being on your side.

You can still be a loving person. You can still stay true to the legacy of Martin Luther King, praying for justice and love to roll down like a mighty stream. Remember that King admitted that the changes he wanted would not have existed without fighters like Malcolm X.

Fire Tim Geithner. Hire Eliot Spitzer as Secretary of the Treasury. He has a huge, personal ax to grind against Wall Street. And you . . .you start loving those who loved you into office. And then love really will find a way, again.