Day 42 in our Lenten Journey beyond “Beyond Vietnam.” From Sharon Kyle, publisher of the LA Progressive and a professor of law at Peoples College of Law in L.A., excerpted from “Is Racism a Racket?” in the L.A. Progressive:
What struck me was that Dr. King almost laid bare the notion that racism is a racket. Not to say that racism doesn’t exist but that it’s continued existence serves an elite few.
In a similar assertion, Smedley Butler—a career military man who received 16 medals, five for heroism, and is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice— wrote a book entitled, “War Is a Racket” because he felt that his years of experience showed him that American corporations and other imperialist motivations were behind our wars. He came to see through the PR campaigns that prime the public — that set the stage for war. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups.
An accepted definition of the word racket is: something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Are we all being bamboozled?
No longer do we have a Cold War to justify our lust for military hardware and personnel. Instead, we’re fed a constant drumbeat of messages that serve to keep us afraid—afraid of terrorists, afraid of illegal aliens, afraid of rising crime rates? Interestingly, the three groups usually associated with these issues are black and brown folk. And what remedy are we offered to calm these fears? Well, more spending, of course.
The U.S. spends more on defense than the next seven highest spending countries COMBINED. The Department of Homeland Security, an agency that didn’t even exist before 9/11, now spends $40 billion a year. Unprecedented in human history, the growth of the U.S. prison system is costing Americans $182 billion a year according to a recent report published by the Prison Policy Initiative.
The New York Times recently published a chart showing the impact of the Trump administrations proposed national budget. As was seen during his campaign, Trump primed his base with fear mongering and with promises he’s unlikely to deliver on but his budget shows where his focus is.
The MLK Memorial in Washington, DC shows King looking off into the distance. The Washington Monument appears off in the distance. What does this symbolism say?