In troubled times, the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. comes marching out of the nation’s collective past as both a reminder of our failings and a torchbearer for the ringing ideals to which our nation has long aspired — freedom, equality, justice.
And these are troubled times. Even with an economy that is doing well by many measures, at least for those already near the top, many Americans seem estranged from the nation’s legacy of idealism grounded in simple truths. Racial bigotry and anti-Semitism are resurgent in the darker corners of the national consciousness. Anti-immigrant sentiments powered by ethnic prejudices are driving significant aspects of national policy. Social media platforms are used as electronic gathering places for misfits whose sense of identity seems to be defined by whom they exclude, whom they hate.