Iron Lady Is Dead But Thatcherism Lives On

By Gary Younge, The Guardian - April 12, 2013

In 1966, a little more than a year after Martin Luther King won the Nobel peace prize, only 33% of Americans had a favourable view of him, as opposed to 63% who viewed him unfavourably. It's not difficult to see why. He was a civil rights leader in a country where 85% of whites thought blacks were "moving too fast for racial equality". He had also become a vocal opponent of the Vietnam war. Just six days after King's death in April 1968, the Virginia congressman William Tuck blamed King for his own murder, telling the House of Representatives that King "fomented discord and strife between the races ... He who sows the seed of sin shall reap and harvest a whirlwind of evil."

But in the intervening 45 years, the mud slung at him has been cleaned off and his legacy buffed to resemble that of a national treasure. In 1986 his birthday became an annual national federal holiday. By 1999, a Gallup poll revealed that King tied with John F Kennedy and Albert Einstein as one of the most admired public figures of the 20th century in the US. More popular than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Pope John Paul II and Winston Churchill. Only Mother Teresa was more cherished. In 2011, King's memorial was opened on the National Mall in DC, with a 30ft statue sitting on four acres of prime, historical real estate.

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