Transcending all forms of sectarianism to achieve a common humanity was, of course, a major element of King's thought. But it was not the only one. Missing is any sense of King's Americanness. Indeed, the word America appears only once, and only in the context of stating his opposition to the Vietnam War. Yet as King himself insisted, his dream was "deeply rooted in the American dream." He consciously rooted civil rights in the American story, not just for tactical reasons of enlisting whites in the struggle but because he deeply believed that his movement, while fiercely adversarial, was quintessentially American, indeed, a profound vindication of the American creed.
And yet, however much one wishes for a more balanced representation of King's own creed, there is no denying the power of this memorial. You must experience it. In the heart of the nation's capital, King now literally takes his place in the American pantheon, the only non-president to be so honored. As of Aug. 22, 2011, there is no room for anyone more on the shores of the Tidal Basin. This is as it should be.
Charles Krauthammer's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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