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so i was reading about MLK and ghandi today. i have the following questions:

can anyone find something persuasive that MLK would have had the same views if he was white? in other words, that he wasn't just yet another guy who wants stuff for his own group.

can anyone find a decent reason for Indian independence from Britain? i've found various damning reasons, but I'm open to there being one with merit.

can you find an argument that any of the following are false?

-MLK wanted money for poor people, and blamed black poverty on whites

- MLK advocated the ideology of victimhood

- ghandi didn't like new technology

- black people are no longer "oppressed" but are still poor. thus proving it's their own damn culture that makes them fail to create wealth that makes them poor.

- Britain's interactions with India were overwhelmingly good for India.

Elliot Temple on October 6, 2004

Comments (24)

I didn't know anything about MLK wanting money for the poor. What I did know is that there was *institutionalized racism* at the time, and the movement as a whole was fighting that.

fr0ggE at 10:20 AM on October 7, 2004 | #1110

Suppose we hire a mercenary to fight on our side in WWII. he is fighting to save the world! but we don't credit him w/ great virtue, b/c of his motives. similarly, someone who wanted stuff for black people because he was black would be bad *even if* there was racism. therefore the fact MLK was fighting racism doesn't prove he was in any way good.

In this most famous speech http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/Ihaveadream.htm

"One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity."

"In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check." (a metaphor, repeated a *lot*)

and http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/poorpeoples.html

The idea for the Poor People's campaign grew out of what King termed the "second phase" of the civil rights struggle. After the "first phase" had exposed the problems of segregation through nonviolence, King hoped to address what he called the "limitations to our achievements" with a "second phase." In its ideology and style, the Poor People's Campaign demonstrated a merging of the "first phase" tactics into "second phase" goals. Through nonviolent direct action, King and SCLC hoped to focus the nation on economic inequality and poverty. The campaign also differed from previous SCLC campaigns, as it aimed to address the struggles of a cross-section of minority groups. "It must not be just black people," argued King, "it must be all poor people. We must include American Indians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and even poor whites."

SCLC planned the Poor People's Campaign to be the most massive, widespread campaign of civil disobedience yet undertaken by a movement. They aimed to bring fifteen hundred protesters to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress and other governmental agencies for an "economic bill of rights." Specifically, the campaign requested a thirty billion dollar anti-poverty package that would include a commitment to full employment, a guaranteed annual income measure, and increased construction of low-income housing. Protest activities in Washington were to be supported by simultaneous demonstrations throughout the country. Despite division within SCLC over the campaign's feasibility, King embraced the campaign and traveled across the country speaking on poverty and went to "people-to-people tours" to recruit participants.

Elliot at 10:45 AM on October 7, 2004 | #1111
black people are no longer "oppressed" but are still poor. thus proving it's their own damn culture that makes them fail to create wealth that makes them poor

Just some q's:

1. Why "oppressed", not oppressed?

2. How does the second part follow from the first part?

3. What is it about black culture that makes them fail to create wealth?

Nanaia at 7:49 PM on October 7, 2004 | #1112

the argument is they aren't oppressed today, and are poor today. therefore what makes them poor isn't oppression. thus "oppression". what does make them poor? presumably being bad at making money which means bad ideas. where do they got those bad ideas, and why do those bad ideas only effect certain people (blacks)? well, we have a word for the shared ideas of black people which don't exist much among other people -- black culture. do you have a better explanation?

Elliot at 7:53 PM on October 7, 2004 | #1113

Hundreds of years of oppression is more than enough to cause massive long term problems in a culture even after most of the oppression is gone.

In addition, cultures without oppression take generations to grow good ideas, therefore it proves nothing that they haven't equalled the white culture in achievement in the short time they've had.

Stephen at 8:17 PM on October 7, 2004 | #1114

Hundreds of years of oppression is more than enough to cause massive long term problems in a culture even after most of the oppression is gone.

Are you sure? Why don't Jews suck?

If they aren't equal to white culture it proves my point -- their culture is worse. They should abandon it and adopt our better culture.

Elliot at 8:22 PM on October 7, 2004 | #1115

You haven't really answered what it is about black culture that makes them fail to create wealth. Bad ideas, yes, but what bad ideas in particular?

Also I think that black people are not as poor as they once were relative to the general population. That they are not is reflective of the fact that they are no longer oppressed and now only "oppressed".

Nanaia at 8:24 PM on October 7, 2004 | #1116

There are rape victims who bounce back remarkably well, that doesn't make it right to blame the ones who don't.

And the black culture *is* adopting many of the good parts of our culture if you take into consideration being slowed by their recent oppression.

Stephen at 9:56 PM on October 7, 2004 | #1117

Have you noticed how good the Africans who didn't become American slaves are doing? worse! therefore getting to spend time around Americans *more than made up for* the opression.

Elliot at 9:58 PM on October 7, 2004 | #1118

Els - how abt this theory? too much emphasis on genes, not enough on memes maybe?

Nanaia at 2:46 AM on October 8, 2004 | #1119

Since you are not a racist you realize that there is nothing inherent to genes that renders one culture less able to progress than others. This leaves only two explanations for the failure of a culture to advance as fast as the others in the world.

1) They don't have enough exposure to the best cultures' memes 2) They have exposure but there are strong anti-growth memes stuck within their culture.

1) explains the lack of growth of those African cultures that are lagging and 2) explains the lack of growth of the African-American culture.

The memes from oppression of African-American cultures well into the seventies are more than sufficient to account for 2), especially considering it can't be blamed on their African cultural heritage almost all of which was destroyed by slave owners.

Stephen at 9:09 AM on October 8, 2004 | #1120


What do you think of this theory? Part of the reason that blacks were treated as less than human back when US slavery was getting started is that they were, in fact, lesser humans.

Elliot at 9:16 AM on October 8, 2004 | #1121


Your link gives a good example of one of the ideas that can make a culture worse: the people in power (this power is considered legitimate) dislike the enlightened as a threat to their power.

The articles doesn't mention genes. Nor do I. To be clear, I think genes don't control behavior at all. Culture is all memes.

Elliot at 9:25 AM on October 8, 2004 | #1122

That theory is false and racist. If by "lesser human" you mean less good knowledge, then it's true but that is not less human, it's less knowledge. "Less human" can only mean genetically less capable of creating knowledge.

Stephen at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2004 | #1123


"less than human" means not being a full human, like a super monkey. "lesser human", in context, meant being a worse human.

I am saying people back then confused the second for the first. this is a mistake, but very different than being racist, and honestly pretty understandable.

Elliot at 9:38 AM on October 8, 2004 | #1124

"Lesser human" is a bad way to put it IMO, better to call it "worse theories." but anyway, I covered that possibility in my option 1) above, and you didn't respond to that comment's point.

Stephen at 9:52 AM on October 8, 2004 | #1125

"then it's true but that is not less human"

well, as i said, it's a mistake, but it's a different one than racism, and less bad, and more understandable.

Elliot at 11:21 AM on October 8, 2004 | #1126

Personal anecdote... In high school I had a classmate who was black. He was in all the same advanced classes as I was and some I wasn't. His father was an engineer at the company where I now work. His mother was a school teacher if I remember correctly. All in all a pretty standard middle class kid. However, none of the other blacks in school wanted anything to do with him. As a matter of fact his nickname was Oreo. Black on the outside, white in the middle. This was in the late 80's before the whole gangsta' thing got big in the black community. In my opinion there is something twisted in the black mentality. Any kind of success not associate with basketball or rapping is viewed as a sell-out. I think this is augmented by the continuous whining of the black "leadership" that their people are being victimized and oppressed. Comparing being firehosed in Selma 40 years ago is a far cry from being pulled over by a cop who thinks an 18 year old black man driving a $100,000 Hummer is suspicious. Something needs to happen. Unfortunately the left, (read Democrats) are more interested in keeping blacks as a monolithic voting bloc rather than actually helping them. Oddly enough the best spelling out of the problem was by a Democratic politician about 70 years ago.

"The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Dennis P. at 7:12 PM on October 9, 2004 | #1127

Very nice. I agree.

Elliot at 7:16 PM on October 9, 2004 | #1128

So the black community was fine until the early twentieth century when the US started relief which destroyed their spirit? That's not really what you blame the current condition of the US black culture on is it?

Or, they were progressing just fine until then and the relief stagnated their progress?

Unknown at 7:42 PM on October 11, 2004 | #1129

they were doing badly and relief didn't fix it.

Elliot at 7:44 PM on October 11, 2004 | #1130

Okay, so they were doing badly. It's not the social problems causing it. What caused it? Can't be their African culture from Africa because they didn't have that anymore. Can't be genetics.

What is going to make a culture within an advanced culture stagnate while the culture progresses around them?

Unknown at 8:09 PM on October 11, 2004 | #1131

they came w/ bad african culture. they replaced it with bad african-american culture.

Elliot at 8:45 PM on October 11, 2004 | #1132

But that doesn't explain what caused it. Were there other cultures within our culture that did that? Why would there even be a black culture? Why didn't they just blend into the rest of the culture, like the Italians, Swedes and other whites immigrants did?

Stephen at 9:32 PM on October 11, 2004 | #1133

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)