Magliano: What advice would Dr. King give President Obama? - Catholic Courier

Magliano: What advice would Dr. King give President Obama?

What advice would America’s most-renowned black man offer to America’s first black president? If he were alive today, what advice would the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. offer to President Barack Obama?

This question takes on added significance when we consider that this year the federal holiday honoring King just happened to fall on Jan. 19 — the day before Obama became the first African-American president of the United States.

First, a little background information. In imitation of the king of kings, King was nonviolent. His courageous stance for universal civil rights was always framed within the context of nonviolence.

In his book Stride Toward Freedom, King recounts events following the firebombing of his home during the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott. As he approached his house, he explained, he saw hundreds of angry faces: "The police were trying, in their usual rough manner, to clear the streets, but they were ignored by the crowd. … Nonviolent resistance was on the verge of being transformed into violence."

King recalled saying, "We must love our white brothers … no matter what they do to us. … Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you.’ … We must meet hate with love."

To fight poverty, nonviolently of course, King organized the Poor People’s Campaign. He saw poor blacks and poor whites as natural allies. Around the same time he started speaking out strongly against the immorality of the Vietnam War.

King was connecting the moral dots of social justice and peace. He was becoming a prophetic advocate of what Catholic social teaching would later call the "consistent ethic of life."

But what about abortion? If he were alive today, would King oppose the killing of unborn babies?

According to his niece, Dr. Alveda King, the answer is yes! In an interview with, she said, "I know in my heart if Uncle Martin were alive today, he would join with me in the greatest civil rights struggle of this generation — the recognition of the unborn child’s basic right to life."

So, what wisdom would America’s most-renowned black man share with America’s first black president?

On the basis of the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., it seems obvious that he would advise a more accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the complete rebuilding of that war-torn nation.

He would oppose increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, and instead would support a quick and total withdrawal of all military forces. He would counsel for an energetic diplomatic and humanitarian solution there.

King would always advise diplomacy over military intervention. Understanding the connection between poverty and war, he would urge Obama to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars from the military’s astronomical budget and use it instead to eliminate domestic and global poverty.

He would equally urge Obama to work for an end to nuclear weapons, the arms trade and capital punishment.

And yes, he would call for the total end of abortion.

Let us pray that our new president will totally share King’s dream of speeding up "that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!’"

Tony Magliano is a columnist for Catholic News Service.

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