The full quote of Dr. Martin Luther King is “There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
The quote comes to mind as Omicron makes its presence known to us in a big, deadly way. The profound words of Dr. King are prophetic even if he didn’t know a pandemic would hit this country and turn our lives upside down.
Recently, the U.S. has reported a record single-day number of daily COVID-19 cases. There have been more than one million new infections with the highest seven-day average of daily new cases in any country. We are shattering records and I’d say it’s mainly from a good dose of sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
I can hear his emotional plea to provide people with the necessary information to make rational decisions about COVID-19 vaccinations, to transcend race and class in the name of saving lives.
Starting with a former fool of a president and fast forward, we’ve seen a legion of governors, mayors and other so-called officials oppose protocols that would be saving lives. This pandemic has become a power play for Republicans and American citizens are the collateral damage.
It has been duly noted that the 95% of the new COVID-19 cases in the nation are those areas of unvaccinated people. Except for Louisiana, the ten states with the lowest vaccination rates are headed by Republican governors.
Dr. King would have been disappointed - but not surprised - that the southern states where he invested so much time and sweat equity are amongst those ten states. The last state in which he stepped foot, the state where he gasped his last breath, was Tennessee. The state rates #40 in healthcare and #33 in education out of the fifty states. One of every six residents lives in poverty. No real progress here.
These three quality of life indicators, healthcare, education and income, are what Dr. King fought so desperately for. He understood that children, particularly African American children, would not fare well as adults if they weren’t healthy and educated. Their ability to fully participate in this democracy would be greatly compromised. He understood that education is an equalizer and that poverty is a barrier.
I think Dr. King would be frustrated and saddened by where we are in this country today. It is just as racially polarized as it was during the Civil Rights Movement. I can hear his emotional plea to provide people with the necessary information to make rational decisions about COVID-19 vaccinations, to transcend race and class in the name of saving lives. He would be fighting for health care like people’s lives truly depending on it.
The pandemic has been weaponized and racialized. Soon, the airwaves will be full of Dr. King having a dream. If people seriously want to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., they should recommit to the struggle against racism, poverty and militarism. Dr. King would tell us that despite COVID-19, America needs to still “make real the promises of democracy.”