Would We Have Labeled King's Rhetoric 'Inflammatory'?
After Tucson shootings, it's a question we need to ask
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2011 1:29 PM CST
April 1965: Dr Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968) addresses civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – As America rails against inflammatory rhetoric in the wake of the Tucson shootings, it’s worth asking: Would Martin Luther King Jr. have been silenced in this political environment? “Even King's most memorable speech—the ‘I Have a Dream’ address at the March on Washington—was nothing if not a figurative call to arms in the cause of racial justice,” notes the New York Post in an editorial.

In fact, King advocated for civil disobedience and rebellion against unjust laws—basically calling for all Americans to break the law. “But America had to be provoked into redeeming its most fundamental principle—that all men are created equal. Had opponents succeeded in suppressing King's rhetoric on the grounds of its obviously inflammatory essence, the redemption likely never would occurred." And that should serve as a lesson to us: "Passionate oratory and fervent, even heated, debate are the bedrock upon which vibrant democracies are built—and America will smother both at its mortal peril." Click for more Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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