Monday, January 16, 2017

Dr. King: Honor bestowed on he

It's the day when conservatives who vilified Dr. King as a communist for 40-odd years nowadays come out to tell us he was really a conservative, and "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character" somehow turns out to mean that he was against affirmative action. Including Sarah Palin reporting Alveda King's (false) testimony to King's (imaginary) anti-abortion views, with some very stirring prose:
Today, it is uplifting to see honor bestowed on he who will forever be seen as the face of the movement to ensure equal opportunity for all....
As powerful, the movement led by King caused long-overdue cultural change resulting in equal treatment regardless of skin color. It would be the norm. It would be unfathomable to think otherwise.
Unfathomable indeed!

All the troops on our side are out nowadays explaining that this is wrong, so I thought I'd rerun an old piece (January 2013) suggesting King—a real radical in praxis, not a hipster radical with a purist theory—might not have been an opponent from "the left" of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party as it is today either.

Getting stoned before it was mainstream. Sorry, that's pretty cheap. Uncredited image (20th-c. Greek?) from some larcenous Christian's blog.
On Saturday [January 26 2013] came the stately March On or About Washington, the first of two commemorations of the 1963 March On Washington, an often moving ceremony, and a bizarre Internet storm around a series of Tweets from David Sirota, who wanted to tell us how Dr. Martin Luther King would have felt if he had been able, like Tom Sawyer, to attend the service, which quickly degenerated from dumb to dreadful as he stumbled into lecturing black people on the subject of what black people think.

Because President Obama is indistinguishable from Lyndon Johnson:
I'd say it's legal, First Amendment and all, but I wouldn't agree with it. It isn't even a meaningful statement, not in the way it was in 1967. And if you could come up with a metric for comparing relative violence purveyance, it probably wouldn't be true (we certainly aren't scoring anywhere near the number of deaths per day that Bashar al-Assad racks up, or even Rwandan troops in Congo). Let me tell ya: I knew 1967; 1967 was a good friend of mine; and frankly you, Senator Sirota, are no 1967.

Dr. King was a real radical, not by any means a "liberal", and in my view, with his commitment to nonviolence, more radical than, say, Malcolm X or the Black Panthers or the Weather Underground—not less. He understood liberals, though, and the need for liberals, and didn't "slam" them; he maintained the highest regard for Lyndon Johnson for his great contributions to civil rights and the fight against poverty, even after they broke over the Vietnam War (when he protested the war, and spoke of the US government as the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today", he carefully avoided mentioning Johnson's name).
Before Twitter, speaking out could land you in uncomfortable situations. From IMGUR.
By the same token, I'm finding serious rightist pollution on both sides of the emoprog/Obot quarrel. On the one side, white-boy techie issues all too easily fade into racist libertarianism ("who cares if there's poverty if NSA is watching me pee"); on the other, loyalty to a president with some extremely remarkable and praiseworthy qualities shares an uncomfortable bed with some pretty nasty-minded neoliberal authoritarianism (bloodthirsty and thoughtless; at the moment rejoicing at the draconian sentencing of Chelsea Manning and partying like it's 2003 over the prospects of an invasion of Syria that may well be sort of necessary but stands no chance of being much happier than Iraq).

Trying to enroll Dr. King on the white-boy techie side because he was kept under surveillance by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI is like—I don't know, I'm just like St. Stephen because you criticized my writing and he got stoned to death. Just don't.

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