Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama's Speech

Like most people in this nation, I think it's a wonderful thing to have progressed to a point where the anniversary of Dr. King's speech can be celebrated at a convention nominating a black man who stands a better-than-even chance of being our next president. However, the inherent irony was also not lost on me.

We all know the famous, "not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character" line, but did you ever stop to consider how at odds it is with the current ideals of the Democratic party? After all, their nominee won his race based largely on the color of his skin RATHER THAN the content of his character. He was a state senator in a district gerrymandered to guarantee it would be filled by a black man. He lead the charge in the Illinois Senate to guarantee that "black" seats would stay in the hands of black politicians even after their proportions within the state declined. His entire career has been based on the exploitation of racial identity even as he claimed to want us to rise above it.

I wonder what Dr. King would have thought of Obama's character. After all, would a man who said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that," have sat in the pews of a pastor who spewed hate and venom? "Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true," seems to be a pretty accurate description of a pastor who decried America while supporting Palestinian terrorists. Jeremiah Wright derided the Declaration's claim that "All men are created equal" as a lie. Dr. King described it as a promissory note that was about to come due.

Would a man who fought to keep the civil rights movement non-violent even as he was pelted with rocks have condoned becoming friends with an unrepentant terrorist whose only regret 40 years later was that he didn't do enough? When that man was photographed standing on an American flag in 2001, wouldn't it have caused Dr. King, a man who loved this country despite it's flaws, to think twice about remaining a friend and colleague? When he learned that the man's wife had once praised Charles Manson and thought it was "wild" that his followers killed strangers and then stabbed a corpse with a fork, would it have hurt his heart?

I'm not foolish enough or dishonest enough to try recruiting Dr. King to the Republican party posthumously. He was a pacifist who opposed Vietnam and would probably have opposed Iraq. He was a socialist who would have been right in line with Barack Obama on domestic policy. But he was also an undeniably decent and good man who loved his fellow humans...even those who did not love him. And his rhetoric on August 28th, 1963 was so loving in its insistence on justice that Malcom X called the event the "farce on Washington". I think he would have voted for Obama this November. But I also think a part of him would have been a little sad that his dream has been lost amid the clutter of radicalism and identity politics.