Why MLK Would Back Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

by James M. Wall

Juan Cole’s column, published today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, links King to 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress. 

This nation honors King on each third Monday of January, a day when we remember the civil rights leader who denounced through his grand eloquence, the sheer and unmitigated evil of this nation’s legal and long-standing bias against people of color.

Professor Juan Cole’s column, published today (1/21/19), makes a convincing case that had MLK, Jr. not been cut down on April 4, 1968, by a nondescript killer, assigned to the evil task by yet unidentified forces, he would have celebrated his 90th birthday January 15, by endorsing Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’ fight against racial and economic injustice.  

Cole begins his column:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, at 29, has become a lightning rod. She was recruited to run against a corporate Democrat by activists of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which has become a significant caucus within the Democratic Party.

Her advocacy of a higher marginal tax rate (no, she doesn’t want to raise taxes on you) and of a host of practical measures for addressing the exponentially increasing inequality and injustice in American society, has attracted the attention of the capos of the billionaires– the hatchet men working for the odious Rupert Murdoch and the mindless minions of the mountebank Trumps.

Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the DSA advocate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel because of its extensive catalogue of war crimes and crimes against humanity in its treatment of the stateless, Israeli-Occupied Palestinian population. That position is seen by the Israeli government’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Erdan, as dangerous to that government’s propaganda effort.

Virulent Jewish-nationalist groups like the Zionist Organization of America and others have also attempted to marginalize especially African-American and minority voices who take up BDS.

Resistance to Ocasio-Cortez runs deep in the American soil and soul. It also runs even deeper in the increasingly malignant Zionist forces now running Israel and among the U.S. media and political centers where Zionism holds power.

AOC will need the backing of U.S. citizens who must stand up to the vicious attacks aimed at her. In Cole’s column, he points to recent examples of what happens when American and Israeli oligarchs zero in on defenders of the oppressed.

Their names are in bold face to signal the importance of remembering each one in the struggle ahead:

Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for a speech upholding Palestinian rights within a one-state framework, and Angela Davis was denied a human rights award in Birmingham for her position on BDS. Other new members of Congress such as Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have also been attacked on these grounds.

Note carefully in Cole’s column, the video of AOC speaking.

Cole’s column deserves to be savored on this day because while King and AOC, spoke and acted in different decades, they sound the same note of righteous indignation.

Cole reminds us, further, of the reluctance of many U.S. leaders to honor King.

The American elite, people like Dick Cheney, had opposed the establishment of Martin Luther King Day, but once it was voted as a Federal holiday, they have attempted to defang it.

These elites watered down King’s image to remake him “as a gentle radical, deploying nonviolent noncooperation to dismantle Jim Crow structures of systematic discrimination on the basis of race. We are permitted to hear the ‘I have a dream’ speech over and over again because its diction does no more than express a mild hope for racial equality, and racial equality is now given at least lip service outside white supremacist circles.”

But we aren’t typically exposed on television to King’s anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism and anti-war message. If he were alive today, he would certainly be a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and would certainly lend his enormous charisma to the promotion of younger activists such as Ocasio-Cortez.

Below, Cole offers segments of King speeches to make this point. Your assignment, should you wish to accept it, is to find time this week to view this video. Then ask yourself what King would say today, about our new political force, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years.
This entry was posted in Israel, Martin Luther King Jr., Palestinians, Politics and Elections. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Why MLK Would Back Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

  1. Allen Scheid says:

    Thank you for this.

  2. Donald Wagner says:

    Thanks Jim, well done to pick up on Juan Cole’s excellent blog today. It should be read in tandem with King’s Riverside Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church speeches of April, 1967 when he made the connections between racism in the US and the immoral Vietnam War, and focused on the evil triplets: militarism, racism, and materialism. King connected the dots in these and subsequent writings and interviews, all of which pushed the panic button with the FBI and political establishment who were able to tolerate his campaign for the right to vote and civil rights legislation, but when MLK pressed deeper on the military establishment and Vietnam, he suddenly became a radical and it was only a matter of time before he was silenced. We will never know if there was more to the lone killer speculation. Today we can make the connection on Palestine and the Zionist state’s role with it’s own apartheid system, training US police, and it’s deep connection with repressive regimes around the world, summarized well by Michelle Alexander in the NYTimes Jan. 19: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/19/opinion/sunday/martin-luther-king-palestine-israel.html. MLK no doubt would have been making these connections had he lived. Don Wagner

  3. J, Patterson says:

    Once again, thank you Jim. JP

  4. oldkahuna says:

    A few days ago an indigenous man stepped between some hateful black Israelites and some white, taunting “Christian” high school students…to defuse a dangerous confrontation between the two groups. Later, a public relations person from the white kids’ high school stepped forward and attempted to whitewash the students’ actions.
    The indigenous person said he was a veteran of the Viet Nam war. He said the song he sang was a celebration of another indigenous person who was killed by hate-filled white men. He said, if this song had been sung by a person as they stepped between the indigenous man and the mob, the indigenous man probably would NOT have been killed. He said, if someone had stepped between Calley and the Vietnamese and told Calley he was going down the wrong road, those Vietnamese would still be alive.
    AOC stepped between the public and a listless Congress.
    Where are each of you who read this going to step??
    Thanks, Jim!

  5. https://www.readthespirit.com/visual-parables/ says:

    Thanks, Jim–as always you’re challenging. I shared this on FaceBook. A few days ago I again recommended the TV film KING because it goes beyond BOYCOTT to include Dr. King’s April 1967 speech at Riverside Church, as well as his aides dismay over his speaking out and the subsequent, as they had predicted, denunciation of him by Northern liberals & virtually all of the other leaders of Civil Rights organization. “A Prophet is not without honor…” See https://www.readthespirit.com/visual-parables/category/eds-blog/.
    Keep up your good work,
    Ed McNulty

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