You know President Obama (unfortunately): he just couldn’t help himself:
“His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time,” Obama told a crowd that gathered under gray skies and intermittent drizzle to attend the five-hour ceremony.
King, Obama said, “gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions,” heralding leaders who braved intimidation and violence in their fight for equal rights.
“Because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, the civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, a voting rights law was signed,” Obama said. “Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually, the White House changed.”
Because it’s all… about… him.
And did it really take five hours, or did it just seem that way?
The speech starts off promising enough: “His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.” Not bad, and true.
But then he makes a rhetorical fumble. Why start off with the grandest statement—America had changed—and then bother with the trivialities? Who cares, really, about city councils? And to culminate with himself—not Congress, not the landmark laws, not the country,himself—displays a narcissism bordering on obscene.
And this part was particularly disappointing:
Some conservatives have criticized the 50th anniversary celebration as an exercise of liberal Democratic politics, though the organizers have said the agenda is nonpartisan.
Organized labor; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups; and opponents of “stand your ground” laws all see Wednesday’s event as an opportunity to get their messages out.
However, many Republicans have chosen to remain on the sidelines.
I’m sure it did become a political rally—Dr. King would have been a gay-marriage-supporting, single-payer-advocating, gun-control activist, who supported bombing Syria without delay.
But Republicans were instrumental in passing the civil rights bills—Republican senators and congressmen voted for them at a higher percentage than their segregationist Democrat colleagues. (Look it up—I’ve posted on this several times.) Eisenhower did as much or more to desegregate than Kennedy. I can understand not wanting to be associated with rank partisan hacks, but Martin Luther King is too important to this country to have his bones picked by those hyenas.
I wish one or both Bushes had attended and spoken. I wish David Eisenhower, a historian, had spoken. Carter, Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey—they all spoke. But the best conservatives got was this (and it was very good indeed):
Social activist Robert Woodson, who heads the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, said the African-American community faced a completely different set of issues in the 1960s. “Our problems today are not the Klan coming in, but it is, what are we doing to ourselves?”
Woodson added, “About 10 years ago, there was a Klan rally in downtown Washington, and The Washington Post asked an old black guy in (mostly black) Ward 8 — the highest crime area of the city — if he was going to join in the demonstration. He said, ‘Bring the Klan down here if they can get rid of these drug dealers.’ ”
Woodson, who is black and describes himself an independent, is highly critical of the current state of civil rights advocacy. He recently addressed a meeting of the Republican National Committee, echoing some of his concerns about the movement and the state of black leadership.
“I really think it has morphed into a race-grievance industry. I think they have descended from the moral high ground that they used to occupy. And that they have become an extension of the Democratic Party,” Woodson said.
Great. I mean it. But the Republican Party, political conservatives, can’t cede “the moral high ground” to the “race-grieving industry”. Dr. King dreamt of the day when a person would be judged not on the color of his skin, but the content of his character. That’s Conservatism 101. And a high-profile conservative Republican should have been there to pay honor to King’s legacy.