January 16, 2007

On the Same Page as MLK

As every American must know, our nation has just celebrated Martin Luther King Day, the time in January when we honor a great Civil Rights leader. All around this country of ours, men, women, children, and a couple of hermaphrodites honor Dr. King’s legacy by taking a day off of work and tuning in to various examples of cultural detritus on the Comedy Central television network. Wouldn’t Dr. King be proud?

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” mention this in part to inform you as to why we did not offer a “post” yesterday. But this is not our only reason. Rather, a typically lame entry on Dr. King at the Huffington Post compelled us to discuss him.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) presented an admirably short “post” paying homage to Dr. King on the old Huff Po. It begins entirely inoffensively:

Today we celebrate and commemorate the life of a man of peace, a man of love, a man of nonviolence who must be considered one of the founding fathers of the new America. Because of his dedication to the cause of justice and the imperative of human dignity, he wrestled with the soul of a nation and challenged it to reach its highest destiny.

A little platitudinous, perhaps, but nice nonetheless. Ah, but it degenerates really very quickly. Check out Rep. Lewis’ grand peroration:

If Dr. King could speak today he would tell us to stop this madness and bring our troops home. He would say that war is an obsolete, ineffective tool of our foreign policy. He would say that we must struggle against injustice, we must stand up for what we believe, but if peace is our goal, then peaceful ends can only be secured by peaceful means. He would say as a nation and as a people we can do better; we must do better. We must find a way to live together as brothers and sisters or we will perish as fools.

Oh, how lame is this? It’s another example of that most common of MLK rhetorical tropes: If Dr. King Were Alive Today, He’d Think Exactly As I Do. Yes, yes, yes: Dr. King would oppose the Iraq War. He’d be upset about NSA wiretapping. He’d be angry at the National Rifle Association. Blah, blah, blah.

Can’t we all just say that we don’t know what Dr. King would think about the vicissitudes of modern politics? To be sure, he was admirably opposed to violent means to carry forward the noble cause of Civil Rights. But does this imply that Dr. King would oppose all state military actions under all circumstances? Tell us, Rep. Lewis: Would Dr. King oppose the use of force to stop the genocide in Darfur?

Why don’t you just admit you have no idea what Martin Luther King Jr. would say about ambiguous political questions. And stop using a great Civil Rights leader as a bludgeon for your ideology.

Posted at January 16, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack