As the nation celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, many are discussing what Dr. King would say to the nation and world today and tell us to do. But his message to us today is as clear as it was fifty years ago if only we could hear, heed, and follow his warnings about what we need to do to make America America.
"Thoughtless people," wrote Emerson, "contradict as readily the statement of perceptions as of opinions, or rather much more readily." The leaders and functionaries who in the past twelve years have imposed on the United States a massive system of secret surveillance are best looked on not as betrayers but as thoughtless people. They have forgotten the moral perceptions that were once felt to make the United States a country exemplary for its freedom. The work of this moment is to compel them to see again what people who understand liberty have never failed to see.