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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

King’s words still guide us

Let’s honor his lifetime dedication to truth and nonviolence.

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. addresses

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Hulton Archive

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

— The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Approaching Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it’s notable how many truths he spoke that are more relevant than ever. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” King observed.

For some strange reason, some of these truths don’t seem, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “self-evident” anymore. So in honor of King’s lifetime dedication to truth and nonviolence, here is a refresher on some truths that have gotten muddied along the way:

Mexico is our friend and ally: In 2000, 88 percent of Americans viewed Mexico as such, according to a Gallup Poll. Today, the number has shrunk to 72 percent. Now that Mexicans have been smeared as rapists, moochers and even terrorists, too many Americans have gotten paranoid about our neighbor to the South. This despite illegal border crossings dropping since 2000, according to federal data. We should work together with Mexico to solve our mutual problems, not demonize Mexicans.

Russia is not our friend: The U.S. intelligence community is unanimous in its belief that Russia interfered in our 2016 election and continues to meddle in our democracy to divide and weaken our nation. Yet a 2018 Gallup Poll found that 40 percent of Republicans now say Russia is an ally or “friendly” toward the United States, compared with just 22 percent in 2014.

Last year, the House Intelligence Committee released a report revealing that “The Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin, sought to sow discord in American society and undermine our faith in the democratic process.” With friends like these . . .

Good people don’t march with Nazis: When President Donald Trump said some “very fine people” marched with neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, it understandably created an uproar — supporting those who historically murdered Jews, blacks and other minorities is never fine. BTW, when that army of bigots held an anniversary rally in August 2018, it drew only 20 to 30 people, versus thousands of counter-protesters.

So as we celebrate his birthday, let’s hope King’s words prove prophetic: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.

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