Monday, January 19, 2009

500 What Would Martin Say -- This Time

500 WWMS This Time

Here we go again. It's the national Martin Luther King holiday. And we're hearing from countless hangers-on and ne'er do wells about what "Martin would have thought..." about this and that. Or what he would have said.

Each year on or near this holiday, we devote space and time to reminding people who are co-opting Dr. King's legacy and history and life experience to imagine and say with great authority what he would have said or thought or done about something. Easy enough to do, impossible to check. It's astrology writ earthly. We just don't know and we can't know.

What would Martin think of the bailouts, or the recession or Bush or the oil market or the Steelers and the Cardinals in the Super Bowl.

Imagine this: "Martin would have favored Pittsburgh." Or "Martin would have favored Arizona." It's downright silly. We don't even know if he knew anything of the NFL or cared. It's equally silly to say "Martin would have thought Bush a dangerous imbecile," or "Bush kept us safe from attacks." Most of us probably would guess the former, but no one knows for sure.

Of the Presidential inauguration, there is less guesswork. It's impossible to imagine anything but a reaction of pride and hope and love for the man who won. Not just because Barack Obama had one African parent. But because of what he made of himself and did so in an amazingly short time.

But we also have to think that Martin would have advised Barack to be cautious. Martin was aware of the bumps and potholes in the road that come with years of being bumped and shoved into or tripping over potholes. We have to think that Martin would tell Barack to be aware that he has, for his race, to meet a higher standard than his opponent or his Vice President does.

Herein, we violate one of the principles of Martin's "Dream" speech, in which he directs us to look at character content, not skin color. The fact of the matter is that the character heading for inauguration is above and beyond what most of us expect or deserve. That's a given. But we must also be mindful of this: the right-white-wackos are just waiting to brand the new President with a racist label.

It's happening already. And to deny it or to look the other way when it happens is perilous, dangerous and to be guarded against.

The guy's got enough to do without that. So let's make sure we do what we can to take race out of the mix.


--Let's form a new organization, SPA, the Society for the Prevention of Algebra. With calculators and computers, it's as outdated as the slide rule. And uglier.

--A friend points out that the furnace always quits on the coldest day of the year. More accurately, the coldest NIGHT of the year. So far, he's been right.

--In olden days, the car also would quit on the coldest night or hottest day of the year. That's changed. Now they quit entirely without rhyme or reason.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.
(C) WJR 2009

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