Life has its beginning and its maturity comes into being when an individual rises above self to something greater.–Martin Luther King Jr.
Okay let’s get this out of the way. I do support civil rights and I have nothing racist to say in this article.
Now with that out of the way.
I hate MLK Day. I don’t hate the honoring of a movement that for the most part did the right thing and ensured Constitutional rights to all Americans, that helped to make sure the ideas of natural rights were honored and government overreach and corruption at so many level was lessened and in some cases made powerless.
So why do I hate MLK Day itself?
Partly because if you look at his life he was certainly not perfect. Affairs, questionable understanding of anything beyond the civil rights movement, and not a person worthy of being put on a pedestal.
But more than that, what gets forgotten in the cult of personality celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is the civil rights movement and what it stands for.
And the holiday does this in two ways.
The first is that it ignores everyone else. Merger Evers, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, James Meredith. Just to name four. Dozens of law-makers, lawyers, and passionate people whose name should know (go on, name another one that I haven’t already named…don’t you think for such an important part of history you should know some more names?) but also it negates the more anonymous work of people like the Freedom Riders.
With having a day for one man instead of a day honoring the movement you tend to forget the actions of all the others.
And this leads to the bigger problem: hero-worship.
It plays into this idea that certain things can only be done by one person. That if not for that person nothing would happen. Thus we must wait for this or that person. The ideas, the laws, the struggle, the organization don’t matter. What we really need is a single person to come and solve all of our problems for us. Because once you have that one person that’s all you need.
This is a problem there should not be holidays dedicate to individual human beings. They’re men not gods, they don’t deserve a day honor them and them alone. Now you can claim that the holiday is a day to remember the whole movement, but then why isn’t it called Civil Rights Day…why is it named after one man and only one man.
Ideas have consequences. Even affecting the opposite side. This idea in particular, the idea that we need an individual to solve our problem has led to some terrible consequences. The names Obama and Trump come to mind. Both worthless excuses for human beings had their adoring worshipers say that they only they could solve the problems that ailed us. Both sets of worshipers are wrong. Granted we’ve only seen the terrible consequences of one of them, but the other one is going to be a monstrous catastrophe. Why? Because we as a nation cared about people not laws or rights. We forgot that this was a nation of laws, and that it is the laws not people that rule this nation. When we forgot that and started putting the people first, the laws lost their power, and it will not be solved by finding some other great person who will solve everything.
Yes there are great people who embody many of the virtues we as individuals should emulate, but that is a personal decision. Government must be greater than any one person. It’s the reason why we are supposed to respect the office of the president even when the occupant is a piece of rotting offal (2009-2021). The laws and the offices are large than any one person. That is why such care was supposed to be given to crafting them and filling them. When you forget that, you look only for the person who is most like you, and trust me if all you’re looking for is what makes you feel comfortable, you’re going to be easily seduced. You’re going to start down a well charted course, a course made most famous by Roman Republic in it’s epic fall…guess what it was that desire for one guy to fix things that started with the Gracchi and ended one guy being granted all the power of all of government.
We need to stop this. We need to stop putting people up there and not ideas. Martin Luther King Day gets changed to Civil Rights day. Presidents day: GONE (9 good ones, the rest are ignorable to terrible, they don’t get a holiday). Constitution day can stay. Independence day should be a whole month, like Christmas. Columbus Day is almost gone already, so to hell with it. Anything that honors a single human being—gone. Anything that honors ideals and virtues, those should be the virtues we respect.
And we need to push for this. Because historically the problems of a society engaging in hero worship only get worse and worse. For a while I thought we respected Reagan on the conservative side so much because he emblematic of a set of ideal, but clearly that has proven to not be the case. So hero worship of any kind needs to end because only that will help us return to a point where we have a respect for the law and natural rights and not feel that whatever our god-king wants is what I’ll support. No leader is perfect. No figurehead is good in every way. Martin Luther King Jr. was a very flawed individual in many ways and to put him up as some kind of defied figure is wrong and it creates exactly the kind of society he didn’t want. Because in the society that worships our leaders as heroes is the kind that fails, it is the kind that finds every group the leader doesn’t like at risk, it is the kind that breeds hate and malice for those who do not want to engage in hero worship.