Today marks a proud occasion for all Americans: It’s the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech, in which King delivered his rousing message of goodwill, tolerance, and racial harmony to over 250,000 passionate civil rights supporters assembled in our nation’s capital. However, five decades later, as thousands of men, women, and children gather on the National Mall to commemorate this immense chapter in the civil rights movement, it pains me to say that Dr. King would, frankly, be up in arms about the way things are today.
In fact, I would venture to say that were Martin Luther King still with us, he would be flat-out disgusted at just how challenging it has become for public figures in this country to quietly and repeatedly cheat on their wives and get away with it.
I mean, look around. A successful, influential man in this country today has virtually no hope of engaging in numerous extramarital affairs without being ferreted out by the media, assailed by the fickle tide of public opinion, and ultimately brought down from his former place of prominence. Why, it seems like every week there’s a new story about a politician, celebrity, or business leader who is caught with a young, attractive woman who is not his wife and who is in turn raked across the coals without mercy.
Is this the world Dr. King envisioned when he ascended the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on that fateful day in 1963? I think not.
Honestly, when I think about everything the Reverend went through in order to conceal his compulsive, maniacal womanizing from the public, it makes me sick. Here was a man who consumed himself with having sex with multiple women without being found out, and for what? Today—in 2013, mind you—a public figure still must make every effort to conceal his numerous extramarital couplings from the prying eyes of the public. He must confine his affairs to nightclubs, private yachts, and seedy roadside motels, slinking in the shadows like a dog so as to avoid the harm to his reputation and career if he is discovered. You call that progress? Well, not I. Not by a long shot.
In fact, I would venture to say that we as a nation are no closer to a point in which a family man can be free to pursue dozens of meaningless trysts with an endless parade of cocktail waitresses, hotel maids, and subordinates without having his dirty laundry aired out for all to see. Actually, it may be even more difficult today for a powerful man to maintain a rotating stable of starstruck 25-year-olds without having the paparazzi and this country’s moral arbiters drag him through the muck, as if he—simply by virtue of what he is—has done something wrong.
My God, is this the kind of country we want to live in?
Just think about that man—that brave, married man—and what he envisioned for the people of this great country. He saw a future in which mistresses could be convinced to keep their mouths shut, a future in which reporters would agree to ignore a man’s ongoing infidelities, and the glaring evidence of his shameless promiscuity could be effortlessly swept underneath the rug. But, tragically, such a world has not come to bear. And this saddens me, because I know how very much it would sadden him.
But I for one still hold out hope that there are better days ahead. For I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day a senator will be able to check into a hotel suite under a fake name and have sex with an underling or high-priced escort without the media or his wife finding out. I have a dream that one day a Hollywood power player will be able to exit a restaurant with a young ingenue without seeing his face smeared all over the tabloids the very next day, thereby becoming the object of scorn and ridicule. I have a dream that one day the president of a prominent investment firm will be able to have a little something on the side without his leadership capabilities being called into question at that year’s shareholder meeting.
I have a dream today.
And when this happens, my friends, every immediately recognizable man in this country whose standing in the public eye would be irreversibly damaged were his weakness for women to come to light will at long last have their freedom, just as the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned so many years ago. Yes, these men will finally be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”