Towards the end of his tragically shortened life caused by the bullet of a white supremacist, Martin Luther King, Jr. questioned whether our world house was headed for chaos or community. He reminded the world of the “fierce urgency of now” in relation to the global challenges that we face, and he warned that there is such a thing as “too late” when it comes to making the choice between chaos and community. King maintained that the path towards Beloved Community calls for recognizing that “[w]e have inherited a large house, a great “world house” in which we have to live together—black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu—a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.” King articulated that living together in peace with justice would require a “revolution of values” in order to overcome the triple evils of “racism, materialism, and militarism.” (See King’s “The World House,” 1967)
My guess is that sometime on or before Monday, Mr. Trump will tweet some obligatory generic praise for Martin Luther King, Jr., but in word and action he represents everything that King stood against. Trump is the personification of what King called “the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism.” Trump has worked diligently to divide and conquer along racial and religious lines, and he is strongly supported by the same hate-filled and racist groups and individuals who fought against everything King was working to bring into being. Trump’s life is the epitome of depersonalizing materialism, and Trump has shown no hesitancy in harming persons in his relentless drive for more wealth and status. His willingness to tolerate violence among his supporters and his irresponsible militaristic language and threats, not excluding the talk of using nuclear weapons, have the entire world on edge.
If Martin Luther King. Jr. were alive today, he would be engaged in every non-violent effort imaginable to resist Trump. If you want to know what Trump would really think of King, all you have to do is look at what Trump is currently saying on Twitter about Representative John Lewis – those are Trump’s real views about persons who are working for and living the legacy of Dr. King. Trump’s most appropriate response to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is silence, because almost anything else will be permeated with a hypocrisy that will dishonor King’s legacy, unless of course Trump would sincerely like to use the day as an opportunity for his own repentance, the likelihood of which is miniscule.
Like all of us, Dr. King was a person with flaws, but his highest aspirations were for the creation of a Beloved Community of love and justice. King lifted up a vision of a world that was more peaceful, just, participatory, and loving; and he literally put his entire life on the line in pursuit of a revolution of values to care for our world house. Trump’s highest aspirations seem always to be related to himself, and his impending presidency threatens to lead the United States and much of the world on the path to chaos rather than community. Trump’s dream is King’s nightmare.