Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

MLK is far along the path of becoming, like Mahatma Gandhi, a simple plastic dashboard saint in the popular conception. This is a shame, because the more removed from the common run of humanity he gets in the public mind, the harder it is to convince people that they too can accomplish extraordinary things--if they set their efforts towards truth and justice. Dr. King was a fallible man infused with a noble vision, and he followed it, to the immeasurable betterment of all of us. That's possible for anyone, in some measure or other.

As for the civil rights movement, it's over, and has been for years. The ills of black America today are not civil rights issues. There is no unjust law on the books anywhere in the U. S., the removal of which will raise the life prospects of a black child born today. One hundred years ago, the fledgling NAACP was writing furious letters to Southern governors, demanding investigations into rampant lynchings. Today, the descendants of those heros complain about something they call unconscious racism. I can't even stomach much of what passes for the modern civil rights leadership' commemoration of MLK anymore, in fact. Listening to those shakedown artists laud that hero is like listening to a pack of the more predatory TV evangelists hosting an appreciation of John Wesley.

So enjoy the holiday. Hit the lake, go to the mall, whatever. Just don't forget how very different things used to be, how much better they are now, and who's responsible.

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