Michael Eric Dyson: An Accurate American History

Michael Eric Dyson: Well, I think America's tendency to fethishize, iconicize,(sic) elevate, glorify, glamorize figures is because we all have a need to have an unblemished character that reflects the American soul. I may not be perfect but he sure is. I may not be the ideal but she sure is. That's why we idolize athletes. We look at them and see the feline mystique. We see the masculine physique, the feminine physique. We see the perfection that is embodied in their ideals athletically and we say we want to be them or we project ourselves on to them or because I can't do well they can do well. So a Kobe Bryant or a Tiger Woods or a Martina Navratilova or one of the Williams sisters, Serina or Venus or some other athlete, Babe Ruth as an icon, Barry Bonds as an athlete People see in them extraordinary achievements and possibilities that loom larger than their own physical limitations and their own psychic ones so to speak. So the same thing is done with these enormously courageous figures who are flawed to be sure but the flaws must be erased, the blemishes must be rendered nonexistent, and we got to remove the pimples from the faces of history, and we don't want to see that. We want to apply some cream to smooth them out so to speak, and so I think that with Martin Luther King Jr. in particular the need to elevate and glorify and glamorize him has to do with the fact that the real Dr. King would be a judgment upon America because the real Dr. King was dismissed by America. For the first time in a decade in 1967 nearly, he did not make Gallup Poll ten most admired Americans list. That's shame on us, not on him. No university really wanted to hear from him at the time of his death and no American publisher wanted to publish a book by him. These are things we conveniently- we forget so by projecting perfection on to him we remove the necessity of examining us under a sharper glass of scrutiny that would point to our failures and flaws as well.


Recorded on: May 16 2008

Correcting the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Ethnic chauvinism: Why the whole world shouldn’t look like America

We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.

  • When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Americans jumped for joy. At the time, some believed there weren't going to be any more political disagreements anywhere in the world. They thought American democracy had won the "war of ideas."
  • American exceptionalism has sought to create a world order that's really a mirror image of ourselves — a liberal world order founded on the DNA of American thinking. To many abroad this looks like ethnic chauvinism.
  • We need to move on from this way of thinking, and consider that sometimes "problem-solving," in global affairs, means the world makes us look like how it wants to be.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists find new state of matter that can supercharge technology

Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.

Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
  • The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
  • Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
Keep reading Show less

First solar roadway in France turned out to be a 'total disaster'

French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.

Image source: Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
  • French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
  • Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.
Keep reading Show less