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The battle for the dream

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

When we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Dr. King spoke these words 47 years ago today.The practical implementation was clear: give blacks the vote, give blacks equal rights. The vision is clear: fight double standards, don’t give freedom only to some while denying it to others, fight hatred.  How sad that people like Glenn Beck today, who promote hatred against unpopular groups, are trying to invoke some connection to these words.

In a much more subtle way, the aid industry has never come close to the moral clarity of this vision; it often practises double standards, with freedom for white men, but condescension and denial of voting rights and other rights for black men.  It covers this up with euphemisms and jargon, which I satirized on the Huffington Post yesterday with the Powerpoint aid jargon version of I have a Dream.

People don’t realize that often the most skeptical and critical people have a soft spot for inspirational eloquence.  It certainly applies to me. I am getting goose bumps as I listen to “I have a dream” right now. …let’s speed up that day when all of God’s children can be Free at Last.

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  1. Linda wrote:

    “aid industry… often practises double standards, with freedom for white men, but condescension and denial of voting rights and other rights for black men”

    not to mention women….

    Glen Beck gives me goosebumps too… the kind that foretell some serious and violent vomiting or when you have a premonition of fear and sadness of horrible things on the horizon.

    Posted August 28, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink
  2. William Easterly wrote:

    Linda, no denial of rights for women intended! just repeating Dr. King’s words. The erosion of double standards is a progressive process that overcomes more and more divisions… women’s rights were still lagging greatly in 1963. I think today Dr. King would add to the “black men and white men” freedom litany: “males and females, Muslims and Hindus, gays and straights…” and who knows what others.

    And yes Glenn Beck is promoting the opposite.

    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
  3. Yngvar wrote:

    Glenn Beck opposes tyrannical and authoritarian ideas and the people that promote them. Hard-core Islam is indeed totalitarian. I find it difficult to believe that Dr. King would have championed followers of Islams “religious right” to beat wifes, cut of limbs of thieves, kill homosexuals, Jews and apostates, all religious mandates written in to the Koran.

    We should all hate that.

    Posted August 28, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
  4. Aki wrote:

    Glen Beck does not fight tyrannical and authoritarian ideas that will require to start from his own nation. His ideas are racist , discriminatory and intolerant. Under the pretext of opposing socialist ideas he wants to leave people without social support and health care insurance just because they had the misfortune of being born poor.
    So the source of all evil is Koran? does it hate homosexuals so do the Bible. Make a Christian government and you will end up with an inquisition. Paul also said that in the church women should be silent.
    How would you explain @ Yngvar the mass rapes in PDR Congo and the Rwanda genocide? They are quite Christians.

    Posted August 29, 2010 at 2:25 am | Permalink
  5. Yngvar wrote:

    Todays Identity Politics strangle Kings dream. All God’s children divided into groups and tribes, all united in hate, envy and distrust of each other.

    Aki, I’m not Christian so I don’t care much what the Bible says, but we should judge people by the content of their character, so unless the rapists where shouting “God is great!” while doing their evil deed, no, I wouldn’t call them Christian.

    Posted August 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink
  6. aki wrote:

    @Ingvar is as if they screaming God is great while killing the people. there are trials against priests and nuns for genocide in Rwanda. Some others where praising the former government.
    How many Muslims do you know personally that do beat their wifes and dream of cutting limbs of others? You ask why some liberal Muslims don’t protest against extremist? Well try to say something is Egypt and you will end up dead in jail, but the government is one of the biggest USA friends. Are you concern about women rights? Try to advance them in Saudi Arabia, one of the few country that applies integrally sharia, another best friend of USA.
    If I would judge the Americans after those met in Laos I would say they all have serious drugs problems and keep happily gun collections in their houses. What you see and hear is not always what is true and relevant for and entire group of people.
    Glen Beck is far from the true of Martin Luther King words. USA has a history of hating what they consider outsiders. First Irish and blacks, then catholics and Italians, later Latino, Chinese and Japanese and lately Muslims.

    Posted August 31, 2010 at 1:04 am | Permalink

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by William Easterly, Lova Rakotomalala, TiagoDF, Linda Raftree, Naadir Jeewa and others. Naadir Jeewa said: Reading: The Battle for the Dream:   I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true me… […]

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    The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.

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