After George W. Bush was elected in 2000, Alice Walker said in an interview: “I know that Martin Luther King would have felt very saddened because he gave his life for a very much larger vision.” During the Obama years, Walker was asked in an interview with an Israeli publication what Dr. King would have thought of Obama’s America and what should be done to fulfill his vision. This was her response:
Martin Luther King was a leader, a person of conviction. He would find it difficult to comprehend, as I do, why Obama is incapable of standing up to Israel and why, whenever he tries, he soon collapses again. I believe Obama started out in the presidency as a good and decent person. With much ambition, but that is not a crime. However, killing people in distant lands by drone attack is, in my opinion, a crime. Condoning Israel’s crimes makes him an enabler of criminal behavior and complicit in the misery Israel causes to poor and frightened people. This is almost unbearable to face, because I, like so many others, love Barack. But we have lost him to the US government machine that is only running true to course in its treacherous machinations around the globe.
I introduced Barack Obama when he came to San Francisco. We were ecstatic that he was with us. I told him, in the moments we had alone before going onstage, that he didn’t have to be president. You can be a writer, I said, because he writes so well. You could have a good life of being anonymous when you felt like it, writing anything you like. You could be free, I said. He laughed.
But I still feel this way. Better a writer than a president of the United States any day of the week. No country on earth is worth losing one’s soul. As a student of Buddhism, though not a Buddhist, I must add: there are ways to re-claim the soul, but it takes a lot of meditation and eternities of work.