Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Wikimedia Commons Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at a press conference in 1964.

There was a terroristic riot through the halls of our Capitol. Two members of law enforcement, and four others, are dead. For some reason our congressman left his “shelter in place” to continue the farcical charade of the “stolen” election. He doubled down on the false notion that, hours before, had sent hundreds of violent rioters hunting for his colleagues through the halls of Congress.

Anyone who had been following the comments section of the social media page for this very newspaper could have told you this was coming. Anyone still watching will tell you this is nowhere near over.

So as we lurch toward the incoming administration, the question of “how we move on” hangs in the air. Unfolding by the hour are developments of how and whether the president will be removed before Jan. 20, giving our congressman multiple chances to affirm his commitment to the sinking ship — even as the other rats all around him inevitably jump. What might the political future hold for those who stand behind this narrative?

In an almost poetic circumstance, we’re quite near Martin Luther King Day. This came into sharp focus as empty calls for “unity and healing” creep into the messaging. This holiday many people with little knowledge of Dr. King’s life and work will inevitably share over social media the only quote they know from Dr. King. White discomfort, on both an individual and a policy level, puts “making the conflict go away” at the top of the priority list.

But we cannot compromise with those who would murder representatives they don’t like, bludgeoning anyone in their way — nor can we tolerate the elected officials who incite these activities, encourage this behavior and express satisfaction with these actors. As with a festering wound, there can be no real healing without the extraction of the bacteria.

Let us not bog ourselves down this Martin Luther King Day with messages about love and unity, quoting out-of-context a man who was gunned down for his “radical” views that every American citizen ought to have the ability to live their life in freedom and dignity. Remember, the mainstream white audience did not like Dr. King during his life.

Indeed, in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” King wrote, “I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. The great stumbling block in our stride toward freedom is not…Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than justice. Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

Calls for unity that ignore accountability take this moment to yield the floor for white supremacy, for the death of Truth, for the same factor that brought us exactly where we are.

Who will stand up for our values and principles, and who will shrink under the demand?

And of us: How will we explain this to the generations of the future? Will we relay our valiant effort of standing up for what is right, or will we sheepishly turn away and mumble platitudes like “it was complicated”?

Where will your name be when the pages of history are written?

Lauren Berger is a resident of Mount Morris.

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