Monday, January 21, 2008

Defining the dream

We have ignored the essence of his life and the horror of his death," said Johnson. "We've allowed white America to escape the guilt of his assassination and we've allowed black America to drift back into a coma."
That's a comment from a Dallas minister, whom the AP called a former ally and fellow marcher with Dr. King, regarding today's MLK holiday. While it's possible he was taken somewhat out of context, the part about white guilt seems rather unambiguous and at the same time, anti-MLK.

Where in King's "I have a dream" speech does he suggest his vaunted promised land would contain a perpetual state of white guilt alongside people being judged by the content of their character, not their color? That's perhaps something out of an Al Sharpton dream. It really doesn't help to phrase things that way. But we know guilt is a big part of the process when a Golf Channel reporter was benched for two weeks for making a comment that the intended recipient, Tiger Woods, reportedly did not find offensive.

As to Reverend Johnson's comment about blacks having "fallen back into a coma", that could be taken two ways. It could mean we've come a long way since the 60s, and we have. Not all the way, but a long way. For instance, the mayor in the city housing the old Lorraine Motel is black as is the leader of the largely white county where Memphis resides.

To that end, what would a Barack Obama presidency do for race relations in America? Most would say it would be positive step, and it would seem to be, but it might also be a setback for some in the civil rights industry. People who make their living suggesting the appropriate payment to assuage such guilt would be hard-pressed to make their case with a black man in the Oval Office--put there by whites (blacks are still only 14 percent of the population).

MORE 1/22/08

Was this real or choreographed?
Is there a racial aspect? If Cheney had done that on MLK day, would the civil rights leaders not be excoriating him by now? Just sayin..

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