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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

celebrating a political life

So, the talk shows are all abuzz about whether or not Lowery and Carter's speeches were inappropriate. I linked to some clips below. I want to offer some thoughts about the controversy, hopefully you'll do the same. Forgive the rantiness, I'm taking a breather from other work and writing quickly.

Celebrating a political life without politics, simply doesn't make any sense. Especially when that person's politics meant speaking truth to power, even when it wasn't "appropriate" or "acceptable" according to the powers that be. Coretta Scott King committed her life to fighting for civil and human rights, fighting on behalf of the poor and people of color, fighting against war. Today, civil and human rights are violated around the world and in our own country. Poor people, and disproportionately people of color, are suffering without real opportunity, in prison, trailers and slums throughout our country. In another country we have killed at least 30,000 and maybe as many as 100,000 innocent civilians based on an exaggerated threat and faulty intelligence. We are setting up 14 bases but claim we are introducing democracy.(more in expanded post)

As one reader has already pointed out, President Bush and the conservatives of the world would rather remember Coretta Scott King as the good wife of the hopeful civil rights leader that "fixed the race problem" in this country. Sorry, that just can't fly. We need to remember her suffering at the hands of her own government (including wiretapping and blackmail by the FBI). We need to remember that her husband sacrificed his popularity to oppose an unjust war and that she continued to speak out against that war after he was killed. We need to remember that she fought against American businesses who were complicit in South Africa's apartheid. We need to remember that she didn't just fight to end Jim Crow, but also to radically transform our country to a place of racial and economic justice. We need to remember that she carried on her husband's tradition of non-violence, and strove to transform the entire world to peace. And, most importantly, we need to remember that we aren't there. Not even close.

The right-wingers are acting offended so that they don't have to talk about those things. Have they asked this: what does the King family think? If they're not offended, if they're not upset, who are you to say what is or isn't appropriate at their mother's funeral? Essentially, the Right wants the country to remember the woman and forget the life and the causes. They want to mourn and reflect, but they don't want to have to reflect on the things they disagreed with.

If you haven't already, watch Rev. Lowery's speech:
She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war,
She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar.
We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there,
But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here,
Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds.
For war billions more, but no more for the poor.


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