Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The new Hampton Sides

So I started reading the new Hampton Sides book, Hellhound on His Trail, which concerns the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.* In a later post, I will talk about the book itself, which is great and stands up well to his prior work. At the moment, I want to mention how relevant the book feels today. King's killer appears to have been already damaged and filled with hatred towards King and African Americans in general.

It didn't help though that the Wallace campaign and it allies beat the drum of saving the country for the white man, all the while claiming that King was some sort of stooge of the Soviets bent on destroying the US of A.

The whole feel of the time is frighteningly similar to ours. The drumbeats of panic and fear pulsing from the Tea Partiers, with their outlandish claims about Obama and their over the top rhetoric remind echo what people said about King. You can't say that you are trying to help white America anymore, of course. Instead you say "real Americans."

My fear is that all of this atmosphere will trigger a reaction from some new James Earl Ray. This is not a new sentiment, but the book certainly makes it seem that much more of a threat.

*Full disclosure: The publisher sent it to me. Thanks!

No comments: