Wednesday, January 19, 2011
© 2011, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
We considered calling this piece, What Would Dr. King Do?, or What Would Dr. King Think?
Frankly, none of them would be really appropriate, since none of us has any first hand knowledge of his thought process, or even a comprehensive appreciation of his view of the world.
For example, most think that Dr. King adopted Gandhi’s non-violent philosophy on his own. Yet, many involved in the movement contend that it was actually Bayard Rustin who counseled Dr. King to adopt non-violence as his MO.
There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that after having his home and family threatened, Dr. King grabbed a rifle on his way to confront his attackers on the front lawn.
Rustin supposedly stopped Dr. King in mid-stride and suggested how to get the upper hand on his attackers, that being to take the higher moral ground - less subject to attack.
Per Rustin, resorting to a tactic that placed the good doctor in the same violence stratum as his attackers only served to hurt the cause, and made it less likely that others would side with him (defense of his castle be justified or not).
On this past MLK Day, those of you fortunate enough not to have become infected with that virus commonly known as Twitter [which should be changed to “Twitcher”], would have been amazed at the volume of thought-provoking MLK quotes posted by “kids” of every imaginable color, age, country, and station in life.
But two situations or events, both featuring the NAACP, kept bothering us.
Why the NAACP? [That’s exactly what we asked.] Because, in theory, one might think that their positions and the interests advocated by Dr. King would bear some resemblance to one another. In both instances, we’re just not sure what was going on. [Plus, we recognize that only certain racial groups are monolithic.]
The first involved something seemingly innocuous as school snow make-up days.
In many districts around the country, schools are required to end their year by a certain date. Most states also require that a school year consist of a certain number of days. Because of severe snow storms, many districts found themselves trying to discover make-up days on the calendar.
Some announced that they were “considering” having their charges attend school on MLK Day. The NAACP, in virtually every region where such a plan was “considered,” shifted into Sharpton-Jackson mode. [Where is a Michael Steele or an Alan Keyes when you need one?]
We need not even explore the substance of their arguments. Many prominent in the black community even suggested that parents keep their kids home. [That’ll show them.]
But it occurred to us, what better day to spend the time in school, reflecting on all that Dr. King represented, and all that he valued?
What better opportunity for black folks to consider the importance of, or show the outside world how much they value, that education thang?
What better day to suggest and support the extension of the school week to Saturdays, or the school year into the summer?
What would Dr. King have said, or done?
The second situation involved the Governor of Maine. This maverick of a politician was invited to participate in an NAACP celebration in memory of Dr. King, and he declined. [Uh, oh…!]
When questioned further about it, he simply said that there are only so many special interest events that one man can attend in a 24 hour day.
He further suggested that if someone thought that his declination was racially motivated, they could “kiss his butt.” [At least he has the balls to tell some group to kiss his rear end.] He finally alluded to the fact that all one needed to do was examine his family portrait, and they would find that he has a black [adopted] son.
Once again, the local NAACP went ballistic, and suggested that whether he had a black son was irrelevant. [Any of those NAACP folks have any white sons?]
Once again, we asked what would Dr. King have said, or done?
Of course, we don’t know. But we have a guess.
As great as all of the quotes posted on Twitter were, there was one missing that may reflect how he might have reacted.
On Monday night, we watched a tape of one of Dr. King’s speeches at the close of an MSNBC segment. During it, he said:
“We must conduct our struggle on the high plain of dignity and discipline.”
Did the NAACP heed his word?
You be the judge.
P.S. Yeah, we know. This was not a very dignified post.
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