Posted on January 19, 2009 by Signal to Noise
The speech itself is always worth watching; it is a wonderful bit of oratory, and maybe it is somehow fitting (although I would never try to draw too much into it) that Barack Obama will be sworn in tomorrow, and hopefully, we will begin to get past, but never forget, the awful things done in our name by the second Bush Administration.
It’s disingenuous to claim that America is even remotely post-racial because of the man’s election, but we cannot kid ourselves by saying it isn’t significant and important. This may be the most attention lavished on a presidential inauguration that I’ve witnessed personally — maybe because this is the first one where the Internet was truly at its full force — but it has so much to do with the image of President Obama.
Consider this: currently playing on my TV screen, in HD, is a TNT montage of NBA players, talking about how personal the election of Obama is for them and their families, to see someone who looks like them, who looks like America and its changing face, leading it, for even four years.
Of course, the question is what President Obama will do to live up to the promises he made, to drag us out of the state of affairs the country finds itself in. Whether he will be successful is left to us to judge. For right now, we can enjoy the symbolism, and the hope.\
Filed under: politics | Tagged: Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr. | 4 Comments »
Posted on January 15, 2007 by Signal to Noise
As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day falls on the man’s birthday, it’s not a bad idea to remember that many in the political environment today who use his words and speeches to try and advocate policies that he likely would not have touched with a ten-foot pole were the types who declared him an anarchist and an inciter to violence back in the day. Sadly, a very good article on that is restricted to subscribers of the New Republic, so these excerpts over at Hullaballoo will have to do.
When Martin Luther King was buried in Atlanta, the live television coverage lasted seven and a half hours. President Johnson announced a national day of mourning: “Together, a nation united and a nation caring and a nation concerned and a nation that thinks more of the nation’s interests than we do of any individual self-interest or political interest–that nation can and shall and will overcome.” Richard Nixon called King “a great leader–a man determined that the American Negro should win his rightful place alongside all others in our nation.” Even one of King’s most beastly political enemies, Mississippi Representative William Colmer, chairman of the House rules committee, honored the president’s call to unity by terming the murder “a dastardly act.”
Others demurred. South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond wrote his constituents, “[W]e are now witnessing the whirlwind sowed years ago when some preachers and teachers began telling people that each man could be his own judge in his own case.” Another, even more prominent conservative said it was just the sort of “great tragedy that began when we began compromising with law and order, and people started choosing which laws they’d break.”
That was Ronald Reagan, the governor of California, arguing that King had it coming. King was the man who taught people they could choose which laws they’d break–in his soaring exegesis on St. Thomas Aquinas from that Birmingham jail in 1963: “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. … Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.”
Some called it lawlessness, anarchy, and incitement to violence. Today, the sane world recognizes it as justice, while others try to take the words and twist them to say racism is over and the corrective measures are not in King’s spirit, barely 40 years after the federal government decided to ensure the black person’s right to vote.
Filed under: politics | Tagged: conservatives, Martin Luther King Jr. | Leave a comment »