Monday, January 20, 2014

"I Have A Dream" Day

Jeez, if you tune into the media on MLK day, you'd think this was "I Have a Dream" day...

I mean, don't get me wrong--I  love that speech. It's a bloody work of art. It never fails to grip me, no matter how many times I hear it.

But...it's not the only thing the man ever wrote or said.

Take this, for example...hardly a deep cut from the oeuvre... Would it kill them to maybe broadcast some fragments of that? Not a huge deal. Not a federal case. Just a thing.

The Letter From A Birmingham jail had a powerful effect on me as a kid, and today is as good a time as any to read it again. Along with Thoreau, the Letter had a major influence on my views on civil disobedience.

Subsequently I've come to think that King's and Thoreau's Socratic views on civil disobedience might be a little too idealistic. But that's a failing I'll take every day over the obvious alternatives...

The Snowden case has also been bringing the Letter to my mind of late, in part because Snowden seems open to the charge that he didn't act optimally. I'm sympathetic to that charge, actually. (The same charge was, of course, leveled at King, and his response was, in effect, and taking a few liberties: there may be a better way theoretically, but this is, practically speaking, the best--or only--available option.) (Snowden, of course, can be criticized on the grounds that he didn't adhere to a King-like view of civil disobedience--e.g. he didn't willingly accept the penalty for the crime. (Of course King actually says "willingly accept the penalty of imprisonment...whereas Snowden could face death... So that could matter.))

On the bright side, it's not Lee-Jackson-King day anymore here in the OD...and, though it hasn't been for 14 years, it's still rather a relief every year when that day doesn't roll around... (We do still have Lee-Jackson day, incidentally, the Friday before MLK day. But that's a can of worms unto itself...)

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