Yesterday I was interviewed by the Voice of America network for its broadcast to North Korea. The subject was my latest book, United America, which documents the 10 core values that Americans share. What do you think the North Koreans reaction will be?
The interviewer’s last question was the most intriguing: “Is there any notable person who sacrificed himself or herself to protect these values?”
Martin Luther King, Jr. was my immediate response, especially since this weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches. King held a mirror up to America, showing the nation where we did not live up to our core values of freedom of expression, equality of opportunities, respect for people of different races and religion, and more. At the time of his death, however, he was the most reviled public figure in America, as shown in public opinion polls (see Monday’s column).
King died for the values he defended. James Earl Ray was his convicted killer, though Ray recanted his confession of guilt. Some claimed a government conspiracy, a charge that has never been fully proven or disproven. In 2027, secret FBI documents about the assassination will be released.
Lincoln was also killed for his values. As Lincoln authority Duncan Newcomer explained, “Historians tell us that John Wilkes Booth became the Confederate Killer because he had heard Lincoln’s recent speech on reconstruction and believed it meant what we now would call racial integration. Booth’s fury at the mere idea of equal association and legal status with blacks pushed him from kidnapping to murder, and from plan to impetuosity.”
What notable person would you add to the list of those who died defending American values?
How do you think the North Koreans will react to my message of unity around core values?
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