Thinking about King

Republicans engaging in the tasteful political debate they are renowned for.
Religion used to be a force for positive social change once upon a time.
Complain to Fauxnews about John Gibson.
Scientology continues to be a source of hilarity. 

It’s very cold outside and my car won’t start. Yesterday I smashed the middle finger of my right hand in a door. It’s a couple of interesting shades of purple and swollen. It is very difficult to type, but since it appears my entire day is going to be spent at home, that means I can take my time to peck this out.

Kenny has an excellent post over at Empty Kettle. I’m very excited for Kenny and hope to talk to him about this opportunity he’s been given. History is very tricky. It’s slips away when nobody’s looking and by the time we think of the questions we really need to ask those with the answers have disappeared. That’s why oral history projects such as the one Kenny is embarking upon are so vital.

When Doctor King came to Chicago, he was viciously attacked-it was when the mobs started throwing bricks and he was hit that he finally left. He was called a communist and far, far worse by politicians, pastors, and commentators (As an interesting footnote, Robert Novak, the man who leaked Valerie Plame’s identity, was the first in the press to allege that King’s movement was a communist front. He probably was acting as a mouthpiece for Hoover then. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times/ history doesn’t repeat, it rhymes). As somebody who was born two years after his murder, I have no firsthand memory of this. To me, Dr King is in many ways a saint and it is difficult for me to comprehend the rancor and rage that he inspired, but I definitely believe it existed. There are still pure strains of this hatred in existence today, but it mostly exists today in a mutated form. For example, today when I was logging into my wordpress account there was an Innocent Bystanders post that drew my eye. I’ve discussed race with the Innocent Bystanders in the past, and in my opinion they invariably reveal themselves to be quite racist even as they protest their ‘innocence’. Part of this is because they are a crowd of primarily young conservatives/libertarians who don’t understand or appreciate anything they haven’t directly experienced themselves. Their cynically self-congratulatory attitude is typical of  contemporary conservatives who want to feel immensely proud of themselves for no good reason whatsoever. This spirit of willful ignorance is reflected in the absurd argument that the Democratic party has a ‘hidden’ history of racism. Bruce Bartlett recently released a book that is so revisionist in it’s approach to history that it actually manages to get everything completely backwards. The only people who could actually swallow his argument are either lobotomized or conservatives desperate to believe anything that confirms their own prejudices. In order for Bartlett’s thesis to make sense it requires ignoring why the Democratic Party lost the South in the 60’s. Of course, conservatives excel at ignoring inconvienent facts so that may explain Bartlett’s appeal.

I don’t think that wallowing in the crimes of history is a good idea. I agree with those that say that we should look ahead instead of staring into the past. However, we can’t really move forward as long as people keep trying to change the past. Thanks to slavery and Jim Crow, America split itself into a White America and a Black America. Dr. King did more than any other individual (with plenty of props to LBJ and all the others who did everything they could) to unify those Americas into the nation we live in today. Those who denigrate his achievements and the Civil Rights movement seek to tear apart the stitches and separate us again. Kenny, be sure you get to work on writing down Jerry’s stories. You will be helping to cement Dr. King’s work into place.  

**update** apparently this post pinged back to the Innocent Bystanders and they’re upset about how I ‘misrepresent’ them. I will be the first to say that I don’t know anything about these people other than what they write, and only say again to them that if they don’t like how their words sound when repeated back to them they should consider them more carefully when they write them the first time.          

4 Responses to “Thinking about King”

  1. crowd of primarily young conservatives/libertarians who don’t understand or appreciate anything they haven’t directly experienced themselves.

    Bad guess, Winston. The IB regulars are mostly boomers or older. I’m almost 56 and well remember the dawning of the civil rights movement.

  2. Wow. Aren’t you a little old to be pretending to be Batman? Like I have said many times, I don’t know anything about y’all besides what you write. I know that Geoff is a grad student in his mid 20’s because he identified himself as such. If you remember the dawning of the Civil Rights movement, why don’t you challenge the racist comments your regular posters make on your site?
    -WD

  3. Oy vey…

    Dear Winston,

    One is never too old to pretend to be Batman.

    As for the rabid right…these folks attack everything that threatens the view of the world they wish to believe in (but, judging from their rhetoric, really don’t). I recall the National Review’s take on Dr. King, attacking him as devisive and destructive of national unity, not because they didn’t recognize that there was a problem, but that he drew too much attention to it. Problems aren’t really problems if we just ignore them and leave well enough alone.

    (And the Civil Rights movement as we know it actually began in the late 1940s, when black workers and discharged servicemen, who’d become accustomed to being treated with a little more dignity and respect, as well as enjoying a much higher standard of living, were relegated once again to being second-class citizens–and decided they didn’t want to be anymore. The “movement” (as the press defines it) only became a nationally-recognized one because the many activists involved finally got white folks talking about it on the tee-vee.

    But then again, historically, we’ve always had an issue with it–in the antebellum South slavery was called the “peculiar institution,” as if not calling it race-based, forced human servitude made it not quite so bad. (Hmmm…I’m sensing a pattern here.) If we don’t give it a more negative name, it’s not a problem.

  4. Prof-
    You are absolutely right about several things, but most especially Batman. I would agree that not only did the Civil Rights movement we know and love started in the 40’s but had it’s roots in every generation before that going back to the begining of Jim Crow. By the way, the thread for that conversation ended up being even funnier than the last one.
    http://michaelscomments.wordpress.com/2008/01/23/scared-white-tourists/#comment-146014

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