Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day

Gosh, when did the observance of MLK day become a religious obligation? Gov of Maine suggests NAACP can give him a nice nether kiss. A petty, silly squabble. No doubt the Gov. will next say, "You know, I have a lot of black friends!" Still, the NAACP folks in Maine (a large group? probably not...there are only 16k black folks in the state of Maine, total) are pretty insistent: Gov MUST observe MLK day. Strange.

For my own part, that would be easy, because I am a fan of MLK day. I am not a fan of the parasites such as Jesse Jackson who have come to make a lavish living trading on their associations with Dr. King. The whole "Rent a Riot" business, and "Give me money or I'll call you a racist" extortion racket is actually an affront to the memory of the man. If the NAACP wants to go after someone who is shaming Dr. King, they should try to distinguish between Dr. King and Kingists (something like admiring Marx, but laughing at Marxists).

So, on this MLK day, let me suggest "The Letter From A Birmingham Jail." An excerpt:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.


ATSRTWT, it's worth it. It's hard to read without getting tears in your eyes, in fact. The simple dignity of the claim, and of the man...wow.

This is the statement Dr. King was responding to..."Statement by Alabama Clergymen." The money quote:

Just as we formerly pointed out that "hatred and violence have no sanction in our religious and political traditions," we also point out that such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham.

An interesting echo, down through the years. The clergymen thought non-violent actions and speech that might incite bad people to violence are immoral. Dr. King didn't think so.* To a reflective MLK holiday...

(*No, I won't try to connect this to the criticism after the Arizona shooting; you can do that yourself).

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"No doubt the Gov. will next say, "You know, I have a lot of black friends!""

His actual line was, "one of my sons is black" dave.s.

Mungowitz said...

Well, right. And that's why I said "his NEXT line will be..."

Something he has already said can hardly be his next line. Though, I guess I'm wrong, since he could just repeat himself.

whoamellie said...

Well done, Munger.

Groups that spend their days creating racial divides are the antithesis of what King sought to eliminate.