Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Monday, January 19, 2004  

Razzberries to MLK day

Isn't it time we dropped that silly"jr."? Everybody knows by now we're not talking about his dad.

And turnabout is fair play. If we have to hear about Washington and Jefferson et al as odious slaveholders and woman haters, I suppose we ought to let all the kids know about MLK's philandering, class warfare odes, anti-Americanism, and socialist lunacy.

Sort of like Gandhi, MLK had his day when he aroused the conscience and pity of a nation as a voice for millions, but then outlived that historic moment with his desire to remain important.

Significance, importance, power, influence -- these are irresistible to most. Why couldn't King go back to preaching? He didn't have anything new, original, or refreshing to say once the Civil Rights Movement had won all it needed to win.

Unlike Cincinnatus, King couldn't return to the plow anymore than the farm boy after seeing Paree. The phrase, media whores, covers the condition to a large extent. We see this hanging on phenomenon very often now.

And aren't we all a little tired of the self-righteous and arrogant thugs who go around promising "to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" as if they have the corner on humility and wisdom?


This will probably come across as nasty, but as I reflect on what others have said about King's powerful oratory and rhetoric, I must note that at the time, most Americans not of the South, and who weren't "negro", had never heard the manner of preaching which was and is common in black churches.

The novelty of the manner of speaking made the message fresh, and impressed the listener with its emotionalism, its call for response, its feelingness. We were taken with its sincerity and swept along with its rhetorical flourishes.

But I must confess that much of the speech makes me grimace today. We have become too familiar with the cadences of such preaching which have come to seem more of a mask for mendacity, sloganeering, demogoguery, and duplicity.

What strikes our ears today when Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or anyone else who uses such an oratorical manner is that it is utterly insincere. That it is all mannerism, affectation, and act than anything resembling good sense, plain speaking, and directness.

Who doesn't inwardly groan now (even the characters on the black sitcoms do) when we see some fellow on the news about to launch a diatribe of any sort with such a style?

King's preferred way of speaking has become a sign of the meretricious, the phony, and the con artist. It appears quaint now, and rather suspect as a vehicle for truth; sadly, a joke. Like watching newsreels of Teddy Roosevelt giving a speech, we are so struck by the comicality of his delivery and voice that we hardly attend his statements.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:41 AM |