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by Peter Moskos

January 18, 2011

Happy MLK Jr. Day!

I guess I'm a day late and a dollar short. I didn't actually know it was MLK Day (but hell, I'm in Thailand). But happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to everybody. Seriously.

Some mock this holiday, but not me. Not only is it good to have more holidays in general and particularly in the dark days of January and February, but Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man. Perhaps the best American of the past half century. I truly believe that.

But maybe I'm biased. I spent the first nine years of my school life, K through 8, at King Lab school in Evanston, Illinois. The school is formally known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Experimental Laboratory School. It even has its own Facebook fan page.

Anyway, it was a great school. And I'm sure it influenced me in ways I probably will never truly understand. And I also suppose I got more MLK indoctrination than your average white kid (I thought everybody knew the Stevie Wonder Happy Birthday song).

And let's not forget how radical King was. There was nothing passive about non-violence. And King, as some hipsters like to forget, unlike Malcolm X, got sh*t done.

Too many Americans think it's natural that we don't have legal racial segregation. But it's not. Who knows what side I would have been on back then. I'd like to think I would be on the winning team, but who knows? It's easy to pick the winning team in hindsight. But it's not so easy at the time. It's too easy to forget how many good Americans were against King.

People fought and even died for Civil Rights. King was subversive. King was watched by the FBI. At the time, King was considered by many to be a criminal. He was a criminal. Police arrested King for violating the law.

King was also assaulted. And of course he was killed.

But Martin Luther King Jr. was right. Because of all that, King's national holiday may be the best (though I'm also partial to Thanksgiving). I mean, George Washington is a no-brainer for a holiday. Lincoln, well, he should have his own, too. But King... well, I don't know what else to say except: "Happy birthday to ya, happy birthday!"

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