Martin Luther King Jr., a reverend who charted a colorblind approach to racial injustice, was a man of honor. Read his famous speeches and you will be in absolute awe.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

Oh, how we need a King now. He’d set race-baiters everywhere straight. He’d tell them to love their fellow, flawed human beings as individuals, not attack them as irredeemables.

Today, Black Lives Matter – the group, not the concept – should review MLK’s approach to civil rights. The organizers and adherents have chosen a different approach to racial reconciliation: belittlement, division and wholesale condemnation.

King was a modern saint, a modern Moses, leading his people out of separate-but-equal bondage and into a land of equal opportunity where skin color and background was secondary to content of character and ambition.

He was all about love – real love – which is intentional, reality-based and long-suffering with a pinch of forgiveness thrown in for good measure. Listen to King describe his main motivating idea of pacifism as the only way to win hearts and minds:

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’ It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. … And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”


This is the King-led civil rights movement in one paragraph. It defeated its enemies by loving them. Blacks were separated, ostracized, threatened, beaten, killed, shot with fire hoses and all other kinds of evil, but they persevered because they were led by King, who believed love was the answer, not revenge, hate and violence.

If King wanted, he probably could have led Civil War II, with the likes of Malcolm X and other clench-fisted Black Power haters leading followers into armed confrontation. He did not, thankfully. And, in hindsight, he didn’t have to. The patient, pacifist approach earned respect from the multitudes who were confronted by white supremacy and rejected it in its raw, hateful form.

Those who need proof BLM is taking a completely different tactic from King need only look up clips from rioting in major cities everywhere in the summer of 2020. Watch as demonstrators in these oft-touted “peaceful protests” took over whole city blocks and fought against police officers, burned businesses, carried bullhorns during early-morning parades – threatening and mocking residents who just wanted a peaceful night’s sleep – and went on network news shows threatening to come for all white people when they got done destroying cities.

The whole experience was surreal, as if we were watching the Bolshevik Revolution scene in “Dr. Zhivago” when hordes of communists overran a family’s home during dinnertime. But this was America in 2020. It was scarier than any novel coronavirus could ever be.

And BLM’s message has gotten more divisive as the years pass. They reject the nuclear family. They align themselves with Democrats and progressives and are hostile toward Republicans and conservatives at every turn. They reject capitalism. They sow distrust of America’s venerate institutions. They tell us to beware and defund the police. The group’s website requests readers to report any “suspicious” “disinformation” regarding BLM, as if we’re in Stalinist Russia.

After the recent Kyle Rittenhouse not-guilty jury verdict, an official BLM tweet responded to Rittenhouse’s magnanimous, turn-the-other-cheek support of the BLM movement by simply stating, “(Expletive) you.” Would King ever use that hateful expression? Of course not. He wasn’t that crude, unforgiving or ungracious.

We were lucky to have King in the 1960s. We need similar wise leadership now, and it’s not too late for BLM to start forming bridges, rather than creating further division. If it did, it, too, might still be relevant 50 years from now, just as King is.

Comments are not available on this story.