April 3, 2008
Forty years ago tomorrow, Martin Luther King, Jr. Was assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee.
I was in Atlanta when it happened and flew back to Washington, D.C. that night. As the Eastern Airlines jet began its decent into National Airport, I saw the city of my birth burning. The scene reminded me of History Channel programs of bombed German cities during World War II.
How could something like this happen in America? Yes, some of the rioting was done by the criminals who live here and use any excuse to loot. But other rioting was the result of pent-up emotions by mostly black and poor residents who had bought the liberal lie that government would take care of them, or owed them.
Two months later, Bobby Kennedy would be assassinated, further plunging America into a tailspin which, along with Vietnam and Watergate, contributed to the cynicism we see today.
Martin Luther King was committed to nonviolence. There was power in that and violent people know it. His voice was one of the most important of his era, indeed, of any era.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.