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Post Reappraising MLK
Created by John Eipper on 01/22/15 9:43 AM

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Reappraising MLK (Randy Black, USA, 01/22/15 9:43 am)

David Krieger and Robert Whealey (both 20 January) agree that Martin Luther King, Jr. was the greatest moral leader since WWII.

There is no doubt in my mind that MLK, Jr. was a master among preachers of non-violent protest for change. For that talent we should all be thankful.

What qualifies one to be considered a great moral leader, or the greatest? It's a great topic to discuss, but one that I suspect that will not lead to unanimous agreement among WAIS members.

From where I stand, morality equates to honesty with one's wife and honoring one's marriage vows. After one's marriage vows, honesty as it relates to leadership along a number of venues must follow.

There is political morality if one is trusted with a public office, no matter how small or large. Millions of men and women were honest to their spouses yet lied or exaggerated on loan applications (some may say with the cooperation of the lending institutions), and we suddenly had a mortgage meltdown a decade ago, one that still impacts many.

It is a documented fact that many of the US Presidents since WWII were not faithful to their marital vows, to their voters and to those citizens who simply stood by the side and watched.

So who is the greatest, most moral president since WWII?

Truman seems immune to the negative rumors and affairs gossip mill. Ike had his mistress, there is little doubt. Kennedy had many. LBJ, it is said, had a girlfriend and perhaps was less than honest with voters about Vietnam.

And then there's Nixon who seems an unlikely candidate for immorality as it pertains to his wife Pat. Ditto Gerald Ford. I played golf with President Ford and came away with the impression that he was a straight arrow. Jimmy Carter? Come on, despite the 1976 Playboy Magazine interview, he probably never even thought about it. George H. W. Bush (41) and his son George W. Bush (43) never raised any eyebrows about fidelity.

Memorable Jimmy Carter quote in Playboy 1976: "Christ said, 'I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery.' I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times."

And then we come to Bill Clinton. Little is left to the imagination when one studies his moral leanings before, during and after his time in public office. Let's leave it at that.

Then we get to Barack Obama. Time will tell.

Back to Martin Luther King, Jr. Some say that he spent the last night life at the Lorraine Motel with a young woman who was not his wife. His biographers and others have written that he had a "weakness for the flesh."

Moreover, there were and are accusations that MLK, Jr. plagiarized his PhD dissertation at Boston University. "In 1991 a Boston University investigatory committee concluded that King had plagiarized portions of his doctoral dissertation but did not recommend the revocation of his degree. ...While there was general agreement that King acted improperly, Clayborne Carson, head of the King Papers Project at Stanford where the plagiarism initially was uncovered, noted that King made no effort to conceal what he was doing, providing grounds for a belief that King was not willfully engaged in wrongdoing."

What are the thoughts among WAIS? Are Robert and David's claims justified? Is he the best, more moral leader of our time in the past 69 years?

Read more at http://www.snopes.com/history/american/mlking.asp#WjiPU1UMdmGJyLI8.99

For more on King: http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20121528,00.html



JE comments:  Lust for power and, well, just plain lust often go hand in hand.  But no one to my knowledge has ever accused Barack Obama of marital infidelity.  Should I therefore conclude that he gets an "A" for morality from Randy Black?  (Just kidding here.)

Must a moral leader also be a saint?  Randy Black raises some important questions.  I am far more uncomfortable with MLK's plagiarism than with his dalliances.  Of course, in my business plagiarism is near the top of the taboo list.

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  • MLK as Moral Leader (Francisco Ramirez, USA 01/23/15 2:14 AM)
    This is in response to Randy Black (22 January). Martin Luther King is rightfully regarded as a moral leader because he played a pivotal role in confronting the legacies of the institution of slavery. The latter is the greatest moral stain in the history of the US. The legacies constituted a dehumanizing racist regime inconsistent with moral ideas embodied in the Constitution. To refer to the civil rights movement as "protest for change" is a rather bland depiction of what actually transpired.

    Did MLK have moral flaws, and was one of them a violation of his marital vows? Yes. There is a scene in the film Selma that alludes to this shortcoming.

    I suspect that some of the people who vigorously and at times brutally opposed the civil rights movement were faithful to their wives. Do we really think that made them more moral? Do we need to flesh out the repulsive details of the racist regime they embraced? I think not.

    JE comments:  Perhaps most of history's "great" or "public" men had their dalliances.  The difference is that now it's impossible to keep a secret, and the media no longer respects the gentlemen's agreements of Eisenhower's, JFK's, or MLK's day.

    Interestingly, Europeans don't expect monogamy from their political leaders.  This is especially true in France.

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    • Lust for Power and the Aphrodisiac of Power (Richard Hancock, USA 01/24/15 4:06 AM)
      JE's statement about the sexual morality of presidents (see Francisco Ramírez, 23 January) reminds me of a long-ago conversation with Gene Hollan, Professor of History at OU about President Kennedy's reputation as a womanizer.

      Gene's response was that power is a great aphrodisiac in women, adding that I might be tempted if I were president and women were constantly throwing themselves at me. Something to think about.

      JE comments: Richard Hancock (and Prof. Hollan) are absolutely correct, although I will add the proviso that the WAIS presidency doesn't work that way.

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