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.
Posted by the phantom speaks at 12:34 PM