Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fifty Years After

The speakers before the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, invoked the memory of Martin Luther King to boost their pet political projects.  The excluded Republicans muttered about the betrayal of King's promise of racial healing.

But let the fact of today's political midgets not obscure the unexpected transcendent moment of August 28, 1963, the day that Martin Luther King Jr. inspired us with his Dream.

Society before the modern era was defined by its families, its tribes, its clans, its races.  Our era has tried haltingly to base society upon a more universal foundation, our shared humanity, beginning at least with shared language, with shared love of God, shared understanding of the use we can be to each other in the exchange of our labors.

But we are not perfect, nor ever shall be.  Dr. King, if transcendent in his call to surmount racial divide on that day in 1963, was conventional in his politics, a social democrat that believed in "economic justice."  Had he lived, he might have succumbed to the racial name-calling of his associates.

The liberals that worked so hard as activists and freedom riders to extend civil rights to all Americans have betrayed that cause with their reactionary "race card" politics and the entitlement programs that have demolished the lower class culture into vice and dependency.

Conservatives have succumbed to bitterness as 90 percent of African Americans vote, election after election, for a corrupt ruling class of administrative liberals.

Instead of a new birth of freedom we got, in the last 50 years, a huge expansion of government power.

Well, we are all human, and even the greatest of heroes can sulk in his tent like Achilles.

But let us not forget that 50 years ago, a young black pastor made a speech that symbolized an era, a great effort to atone for America's Original Sin, under which men and women, spoils of tribal warfare, were brought to these shores and worked for profit, the great profit of growing sugar and cotton.  And that after a great Civil War it took a further century to completely break the shackles that fettered the bondsman's ankles -- and his life.

Perhaps it is a good thing that the nation's First Black President has turned out to be as average and venal as any white president down the decades, and that his Attorney General is as corrupt as any previous.

After all, the point about politicians is that they are not gods, as their supporters boost them, but ordinary practical men that know how to win elections but then proceed to betray their supporters.

So political and social life lurches onwards, from hope to betrayal to outrage.  And men still hope for deliverance when they decide it is Time for a Change and dream of a time when men and women will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

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