Professor Moti Nissani
May 9, 2005
stories or recounting events, people have varying perceptions on what they read
or recall. In listening to the song
“This Land Is Your Land”, and the class discussion concerning the general
perceptions about Martin Luther King, Jr., it challenged me to re-think my
belief of what I thought about the two issues.
The song by Woody Guthrie, and the historical events of Martin Luther
is common to most Americans, and although they are not a
regular topic of discussion, older Americans can relate to these subjects
whenever they are interjected into a conversation. I propose that what I originally thought may not be accurate, and
that I, like many Americans may have missed the true meaning of
this issue altogether.
Most Americans have been stuck on the phrase in the song “This land is your land, this land is my land, this land was made for you and me.” They tend to take the words literally. When closely examining the full text of the song, you find a man wandering across the country on foot, only to find that most of the property is privately owned, and that he is not welcome in most of the places he encounters. The land he sees is rich and bountiful, but for people like himself, their share of this richness is the relief line. The writer cleverly uses the works of the song to imply that not everyone is as welcome to the land as the song appears to be saying.
The media has portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. as a civil rights activist. In this instance, the media is correct, but is much more to this man that either went unreported, or unnoticed. For instance, he was a champion for poor people, and the world duly recognizes him for that. What was not reported or acknowledged about Dr. King were his strong efforts to empower blacks and other minorities in the economic and political processes of the United States. He also changed his rhetoric, joined with the SDS, SNCC, NOW, Black Panther Party, and spoke out against the Viet Nam War. It was not long after this change in tactics that he was assassinated. The media and the FBI waged a smear campaign to characterize him as a womanizer. Hs speeches about entrepreneurship and economic and political empowerment were not publicized.
I made the same
mistake in thinking that “This Land Is Your Land” was affirmation of the
‘American Dream’. Most Americans have
to words literally. Although I
looked at the reports about Dr. King’s sexual indiscretions as an attempt to
discredit him as a person, I never realized until later years that he had
indeed espoused a form of social democracy, which included all segments of the
U.S. population. I think we all looked
at Dr. King solely as a civil rights activist, but in reality I think he was
promoting a classless society that called for individuals to be judged on their
own personal merit, and not their ethnicity or financial status.
I think that most of us in this class were off base, because it is our nature to want to believe that if the media prints it, it must be true. We have become too lazy and dependent upon others to investigate and report on events that affect our daily lives. Our sense of curiosity has been replaced with a spirit of ‘gossip hounds’ that love juicy tidbits of scandal and controversy. We tend to want to believe that most politicians and law enforcement agencies work in our vest interest. After all, we elected or appointed them to serve and protect us. Why shouldn’t we believe them?
I have learned that I neither need, nor dare depend on someone else’s opinion or rhetoric to determine if what is going on in this country is truly in my own self-interest. I have found that the media is a powerful, private, propaganda medium that is committed to the subjugation of the masses for personal interests and profit. America has become an oligarchy shrouded in the guise of a democracy. As King George W. Bush so aptly put it, “My base is the haves and the have mores.”