Monday, January 21, 2013

Mr. Obama, Rev. King and the Land of Lincoln

When Mad Dog was in college, Martin Luther King gave an address in a large hall  at his college, and the crowd of undergraduates was so large, they had to broadcast with speakers out on to the College Green, where Mad Dog stood and listened. 

King  gave what Mad Dog is sure was a stock speech, or sermon, about how a nation could gain the world (i.e., riches, wealth, power) and lose its soul. Mad Dog found it very moving. After the speech, Rev. King walked out of  Sayles Hall, and the crowd parted to allow him to pass--Mad Dog does not recall seeing much in the way of security guards--and Reverend King walked past Mad Dog, close enough to touch.  Mad Dog was startled by how small he was. He looked enormous on T.V., and that voice--Mad Dog had assumed he was a giant. 

But he was only a giant in spirit.

He was a man of the flesh, as many political and public figures were.  But that did not diminish the man in Mad Dog's eyes. It only made him human.

Some years earlier, Mad Dog's father, who was well known in the family as being out of touch with the real world, came home to dinner and talked about walking out of his office at lunch and strolling down to the Mall to listen to some of the speeches being given at a big rally there.  Mad Dog's father rarely said anything complimentary about any public figure. He worked in the federal government and was a hard bitten cynic. 

But this night he came home and said, "I haven't heard oratory like that since Roosevelt. Maybe not even Roosevelt himself."  Later that night,  Mad Dog  saw Martin Luther King on TV, giving The Speech, and his father walked by and stopped and listened and said, "That's the guy. Told you. He's good."

But, the I Have a Dream Speech, inspirational as it was, was only one speech.
What really made King important was his organization, and his judgment and his courage. Those Southern police and their murderous friends were violent thugs of the Southern variety, who believed beating Blacks with clubs, hanging them, shooting them and disappearing their bodies, were acts of virtue and valor. They told themselves they were defending white women from the depredations of Black males. And they had a good sadistic time doing it.

There are still haters out there today, clinging to their religion, their racism and their guns and they would like to put President Obama in an early grave.

My wife was passing through the airport at Charlotte, North Carolina, in October, 2008, and she heard two men talking, taking no care to keep their voices down. One said he thought Obama might carry North Carolina, and he might even win the whole election. "Oh," said the other, "Not if my Bushnell has anything to say about it. Over my dead body, that boy becomes President."  Nobody arrested that hater. It was North Carolina. 

Of course, North Carolina went for Obama, that time. Not the next. Today, everyone knows Obama's name. That little hater is forgotten. But there are little haters all over this country, hoping to become famous by launching a bullet.

The danger has not abated. We just don't think about it as often, or talk about it as much. But it remains. 

Hopefully, Mr. Obama will have time to complete his 2nd term. 

Mad Dog wakes up every day and says thanks it is not President Romney, Secretary of Defense Mitch McConnell and Vice President Ryan.

Listening to his 2nd Inaugural Address today, Mad Dog rejoiced. It was vintage Obama. A speech can only be as great as the moment which inspires and contains it. We are not at such a juncture today. But Mr. Obama captured the essence of where we are and where we have to go.

Mad Dog wishes him and the citizens he addressed today, Godspeed.


  1. Mad Dog,
    I thought his speech was pretty wonderful today-inclusive of everyone,the reason why I'm a democrat. I hope he and the first family are successful and safe these next four years and at least some of his goals for the country are realized.

    As for the Wire, well I haven't made much progress past episode 4 I'm sorry to say-no reflection on the show which I thoroughly enjoy-I've just, for a variety of reasons, not had the chance to watch more. Hopefully I'll be ale to get back into it this week. Have you ever seen the Irish movie The Guard with Don Cheedle? I think you'd like it, there is quite a bit of violence and profanity but it doesn't seem like that would bother you(of course the last people I suggested it to disliked it so much they hit the eject button midway)....

  2. Maud,

    One man's profanity is another's simple effort at emphasis. Having grown up with people who speak the way (at least the white)people speak on The Wire, it doesn't sound profane to me, just real. What sounds profane to me is Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell--those holier than thou types spouting fire and hate. Hate is profane. As George Carlin noted so eloquently the "F" word is a rather cute little word, and it's all about the beginning of life. Every once in a while I play George Carlin just to reconnect. "I was a Catholic once. Now I'm an American. You know, you grow."
    Not that you can't be both, but he was talking about identity more than upbringing with that quip.Carlin is actually the least profane man I ever heard.
    Violence, not so much.
    But I'll try it. Don Cheedle has been in some very good stuff.

    Mad Dog

  3. Mad Dog, your vision of a bullet that awaits President Obama is a little more than depressing as I too have had the same thought. I was praying the whole time the President was walking towards the White House, after the inauguration, that I would not be watching his assassination. Let us hope he can continue his work of fixing this great nation.

  4. Mad Dog,
    I to was a big fan of George Carlin-growing up all the kids in my neighborhood could recite the " Seven words you can't say on TV" as well as any prayer and we listened to his albums repeatedly. His humor always included so much truth. Even my father became a fan of Carlin's books at the end of his life, which I was surprised at since my father had an aversion to anyone he thought was a flake or a "hippie". I probably shouldn't have been surprised since Carlin was two things my father appreciated -smart and funny....Downton Abbey was better this week didn't you think..

  5. Maud,

    Yes, my wife turned to me and said, "Well, Maud will be happier this week." But I do agree about the Bates subplot. Get that one done.
    Anonymous is correct--we all live with this unspoken (until now) dread. If you are old enough to remember the 60's, public figures were getting shot with regularity: Kennedy, King, Robert Kennedy, and later, George Wallace and even later, John Lennon and Reagan.
    So, yes, that knowledge is always there.

    Mad Dog