Russia Today TV had some interesting takes on MLK day, saying that to a large extent Dr. King’s message had been hijacked and distorted for other purposes. One citation mentioned a Pentagon official, Dr. Jeh Johnson, who wrote that because of the complexity and changed times today, Martin would support our wars in Af-Pak, etc.
Sorry, I can’t get the video to embed, but the link is below.
Hijacking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy…
… … American hero is invoked for various reasons. But once in a while, that legacy gets hijacked. First there was Glenn Beck in a rally … , but that is wrong, argued Rudd. Like the movements lead by MLK, change can take place today by learning from the movements …
Also, the Pentagon wrongly uses King to justify today’s wars.
From reining in Wall Street to preventing the next oil spill and tackling global climate change, we often hold back from taking important public stands because we’re caught in a trap I call “the perfect standard.” Before letting ourselves take action on an issue, we wait to be certain that it’s the world’s most important issue, that we understand it perfectly, and that we’ll be able to express our perspectives with perfect eloquence. We also decide that engagement requires being of perfect moral character without the slightest inconsistencies or flaws.
* * *
Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, tells the story of how his grandfather’s family mortgaged everything they had–their land, their jewelry, everything of value–to send Gandhi to law school. Gandhi graduated and passed the bar, but was so shy that when he stood up in court all he could do was stammer. He couldn’t get a sentence out in defense of his clients. As a result, he lost every one of his cases. He was a total failure as a lawyer. His family didn’t know what do to. Finally, they sent him off to South Africa, where he literally and metaphorically found his voice by challenging the country’s racial segregation.
I love viewing Gandhi not as the master strategist of social change that he later became, but as someone who at first was literally tongue-tied–shyer and more intimidated than almost anyone we can imagine. His story is a caution against the impulse to try and achieve perfection before we begin the journey of social change.
“I think it does us all a disservice,” says Atlanta activist Sonya Vetra Tinsley, “when people who work for social change are presented as saints–so much more noble than the rest of us. We get a false sense that from the moment they were born they were called to act, they never had doubts, were bathed in a circle of light. But I’m much more inspired learning how people succeeded despite their failings and uncertainties. It’s a much less intimidating image. It makes me feel like I have a shot at changing things too.”
It is entirely possible that in Tuesday’s special election the Institutional Democratic Party is going to cough up the seat Ted Kennedy held for 50 years.
Why is that?
Because they are fundamentally failures and want an excuse for not delivering.
But it’s not all bad.
I see people despairing and thinking we aren’t having any effect when nothing could be further from the truth.
They are very, very afraid.
They’re afraid we will spit in their soup and they should be. They’re afraid we won’t buy their crap anymore and we won’t.
They’re afraid of pitchforks and torches but I’m not advocating that.
What I do think is that progressive people have been in an abusive relationship for years, bullied by perfectly good enemy talk into thinking that the enemy of their enemy is their friend.
I have permanent interests.
There comes a time when you have to stand up and say no when everyone else just runs away. There comes a time when you have to admit that your bruises are not because you are “clumsy” and “undiplomatic”.
Below the fold is a letter from jail that I think is worth remembering.
This eighth installment of the Original v. Cover series appears one day early this week for perhaps the most compelling of reasons – Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on this day in 1929. Had his life not been tragically ended on April 4, 1968, he could conceivably have celebrated his 81st birthday on this day.
Today we celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s remarkable accomplishments; however, cannot escape wondering what may have been were he still alive today. Although King would most likely be encouraged by the progress that has been achieved since his time, his optimism would no doubt be tempered by an ample measure of concern as well.
Would he have celebrated the seating of an African-American on the Supreme Court at the behest of a Republican president, no less, on October 18, 1991? Would he have considered his mission to be accomplished with the election of an African-American to the highest office in this land, a term which began slightly less than one year ago on January 20, 2009? Or would his feelings, at best, be mixed?
King would undoubtedly have had much to say about those topics. And his concerns would without question be shared by many perusing this diary.
If you are truly interested in the meaning of King’s life and what it meant for this country, please consider going to the following wikipedia article, which can be found here. If we choose to listen, we will soon discover that he was not speaking just to the people of that day, but to posterity as well. His message resonates as much if not more so than it did nearly a half a century ago.
Much will be written and said about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. during this weekend. Those whose abilities far exceed this writer’s humble talents will bring his memory to life for those who slow down long enough to remember, and in some cases, with a combination of fear and courage, consider the challenges that he sets before us in our own time.
For those in want of a quick refresher, here is one of the many excerpts from King’s August 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, fittingly delivered at the Lincoln Memorial. Fewer among us may be aware that the content of this speech was toned down in response to the concerns of the then president, John F. Kennedy. Malcolm X was among those critical of this event, referring to it as “the farce on Washington.”
I’m a great admirer of Dr. King and his methods of direct action and community organizing. If he were alive today would be his 79th birthday. In celebration of his life and work I’m putting together a brief outline of some of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.
My primary source is going to be the Wikipedia, not because it’s especially good or complete, but simply because I think it’s instructive to see how this pivotal and relatively recent period in American History is treated by their procedures and writers (for a slightly longer discussion of my feelings about Wikipedia read here).
Brief as my treatment is, it’s slightly longer than I can comfortably fit in a single diary so I’m going to split it up into several sections, all of which I hope to publish by the official celebration of his birthday the 19th. I do have some regularly scheduled diaries that will interrupt the series on Friday and Sunday.
I am still stunned by what has happened. While I have many concerns I am not thinking about them now. If only for this one essay, I want to set everything aside to simply celebrate our historic achievement as a people.
I remain overwhelmed. It still hasn’t entirely sunk in. It is really huge, probably the biggest single event in my lifetime – certainly in the political realm. What a remarkable, amazing, stunning victory for us all. What a wonderful moment for America. We have achieved a great milestone.
How starving were we for this great day to be an American?
I cried listening to a political speech, a speech given by a Chicago politician. I cried standing in a noisy bar in front of a big screen TV with a bunch of other people who were crying, too, a lot of them.
I cried as this politician reminded me of what is best about this country, this species, this planet – reminded me that all things are, in fact, possible, and that we as a nation just proved that.
Today we remember how loved Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was, and is. But we forget how hated he was during his lifetime. We forget the awful slip of the tongue that some employed to belittle him and call him “coon” instead of “King”. We forget the constant death threats, the government surveillance.
We forget that some people’s first reaction upon hearing Dr. King was shot was one of relief, not grief.
But to get an insight into that hate all one has to do is peruse today’s headlines and see the level of vitriol hurled against the Dalai Lama by the Chinese government.
“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Iraq. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Iraq. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours…
“America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood…
“We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate…
“We must find new ways to speak for peace in Iraq and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”
–April 4 is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. It is also the anniversary of the speech he gave a year before his death, entitled “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence.” This is taken from that speech. I have taken the liberty of changing only the name of the country.
Speaking in Dharamsala, seat of Tibet’s government-in-exile, Ms Pelosi said: “We call upon the international community to have an independent outside investigation on accusations made by the Chinese government that His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] was the instigator of violence in Tibet.”
She added: “The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world.
“If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China and the Chinese in Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak out on human rights.”