MLK Day, An Inauguration, And Progress

January 21, 2013 10:00 am

by Charlie · 40 comments

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

On Monday, the nation observes the swearing in of President Obama for a second term, marking our ritual of a peaceful transition or reaffirmation of power every four years.  The actual swearing in for the President, as prescribed by the Constitution, took place on Sunday.

On Monday, the country also observes a national holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr.  His actual birthday was January 15th.

The optics of the two events are not trivial and should not be ignored.  America has not only elected its first black President, but re-elected him.  As divided of a people as we are politically, we should at least take a note of the progress the country has made in the struggle for civil rights.  Four and a half decades after the life of Dr. King, we now largely divide ourselves along ideological grounds, not based on skin color.

The juxtaposition of the inauguration and the birthday of Dr. King also serves to highlight the very nature of King’s movement on non-violent social change.  Power is obtained and maintained in this country through peaceful measures, unlike what we witness with increasing frequency around the globe. 

We are not a nation that takes up arms to make our political points.  About the worst most who seek positions of power will face are negative campaign ads rather than violence and physical harm.  We must take occasions such as we see this week to celebrate this fact.  It is one of the things that keeps America unique, and a beacon to others who seek self-government.

Dr. King’s birthday reminds us that things were not always this way in our country for all of our people.  He paid the ultimate price in the struggle for equality.  Others paid with their lives as well, while more  still bear the scars earned during the struggle.

One of those is Georgia’s own Congressman John Lewis, holder of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Lewis earned that medal 48 years ago at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  Lewis, leading a peaceful march to Montgomery, was unarmed yet beaten by law enforcement and an awaiting mob who opposed his views and his struggle.

Lewis being unarmed not only underscores the courage required to face his duty that day, but the underlying point of the movement for non-violent social change.  Had Lewis been armed to defend himself, he would have likely himself been killed with he and those with him portrayed as unlawful aggressors.  Instead, the brutal images from that Bloody Sunday helped galvanize a nation to the side of right over that which was clearly wrong.

This reminder is unfortunately necessary because Rush Limbaugh, deciding to push back on the current movement for gun control, has decided to question not only whether Lewis was actually beaten, but why he didn’t exercise his own right to bear arms.

“If John Lewis, who says he was beat upside the head, if John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge?” asked Limbaugh on Friday, clearly missing the point and significance of the moment.  Or perhaps, choosing to stir controversy where there is none.  Regardless, the question is remarkable in its audacity and ignorance.

Limbaugh’s overall commentary was an attempt to argue that some use racism as a political argument today as if there has been no progress since the 60’s.  Denigrating the acts of bravery that made the progress possible voids any possible validity to the argument.

Four years ago, Limbaugh drew attention to himself by saying he hoped President Obama would fail.  It’s entirely possible that again, on the occasion of the President’s inauguration, Limbaugh would rather have the topic of conversation be himself.

If that is to be the case, then let it be an honest discussion.  Limbaugh’s audience – heavily Republican – skews older, white, and male.  Often mistaken as the voice of the Republican Party, Limbaugh’s audience demonstrates the demographic problem the Republicans face.

Republicans are having difficulty attracting non-white voters and are having increasing problems attracting votes from women.   Part of a much needed attempt to broaden the party’s appeal would be to have leaders openly reject this line of ridiculous rhetoric.  That, on this day of great significance, would demonstrate additional progress.

Ghost of William F Buckley January 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

“Often mistaken as the voice of the Republican Party, Limbaugh’s audience demonstrates the demographic problem the Republicans face.

Republicans are having difficulty attracting non-white voters and are having increasing problems attracting votes from women. Part of a much needed attempt to broaden the party’s appeal would be to have leaders openly reject this line of ridiculous rhetoric. That, on this day of great significance, would demonstrate additional progress.”

Management ought to take these words, enshrine them, and then get them to a Madison Avenue Ad Man.

Bridget Cantrell January 21, 2013 at 10:42 am

HalleLOOOyah. PREACH.

Shut. Up. About. Rape.

Ghost of William F Buckley January 21, 2013 at 11:18 am

C’mon, Bridget, having old, white guys talk about such matters doesn’t impress you much?

Why do you hate America? LOL

atlanta_advocate January 21, 2013 at 11:37 am

If old white guys were to talk about prison rape, that would be a good thing if it leads to a more humane prison system.

Incidentally, folks don’t seem to mind when old white guys talk about rape, abortion, birth control etc. so long as those old white guys adhere to liberal/feminist views on those issues. The next time Bill Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Joe Biden etc. are told to stop politicizing these issues will be the first. After all, it was the pro-abortion crowd who made the “wouldn’t you want your daughter to be able to get an abortion if she got raped!!!” thing part of the political dialogue to begin with. (Not to mention how feminists politicize the rape issue on college campuses.)

Sorry, but I still say that old white male conservatives should stop talking about controversial sensitive social issues when old white male liberals – as well as young white/black/Hispanic/Asian liberals – stop first.

Rick Day January 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm

because being a white male conservative in the halls of power is totes like being a misogynistic young ignorant?

How about we just take out the ‘conservative’ part and tell you old white folks to sit down and polish your silver. You can’t relate to a young black male. You don’t WANT to relate to anyone outside your church.

Rick Day January 21, 2013 at 11:13 am

Embrace full drug law reform, and the young and minorities will come. But who will call that shot?

It all comes down to Who is Master, the partisan politician, or the Drug War Industrial Complex?

Ghost of William F Buckley January 21, 2013 at 11:19 am

I’ll have a shot with you on that.

The Last Democrat in Georgia January 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm

+1, no, +2…as in two shots, that is…

atlanta_advocate January 21, 2013 at 11:32 am

And what evidence is there that “minorities” support drug law reform instead of jobs/education and civil rights (which guarantees access to jobs/education)? Minorities vote alongside white liberals/progressives but for different reasons and issues. The civil rights leadership supports drug law reform as a way to keep more “minorities” who choose to break the law and not abide by them out of jail (and they support gun control for similar reasons) but minority voters don’t always follow the civil rights leadership. Best example: minority voters backed Barack Obama in 2008 when the civil rights leadership supported Hillary Clinton. (Remember Andrew Young’s infamous “Bill Clinton’s bedded more black women than Barack Obama has” comment? Ah, the civil rights leadership. What great leaders, visionaries and examples they are.)

Rick Day January 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

what evidence is there that “minorities” support drug law reform most of them outside the hall$ of power and god (government and church) do. Your average everyday voter does. Why? Because statistic after statistical fact show that African American and Hispanic’s are disproportional incarcerated for drugs. I would assume most minorities know of someone either killed or jailed due to the failed WOD.

Also, the ‘already well off’ are not drawn into the drug trade. Only the desperate. I’m sure most people would want that temptation taken from their children and neighborhoods.

I am not sure what that rant on lib’rels, civil rights, Hillary, guns, minorities in air quotation marks and Bill bedding darkies was about. But it was a very nice strawman army you assembled, so points for that :)

Rick Day January 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

what evidence is there that “minorities” support drug law reform most of them outside the hall$ of power and god (government and church) do. Your average everyday voter does. Why? Because statistic after statistical fact show that African American and Hispanic’s are disproportional incarcerated for drugs. I would assume most minorities know of someone either killed or jailed due to the failed WOD.

Also, the ‘already well off’ are not drawn into the drug trade. Only the desperate. I’m sure most people would want that temptation taken from their children and neighborhoods.

I am not sure what that rant on lib’rels, civil rights, Hillary, guns, minorities in air quotation marks and Bill bedding darkies was about. But it was a very nice strawman army you assembled, so points for that :)

Ghost of William F Buckley January 21, 2013 at 11:20 am

I sure hope BJ Van Gundy is reading this….

Harry January 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm
Harry January 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm
atlanta_advocate January 21, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Yep. We would have been so much better off had GM been allowed to go bankrupt, and that market share gone to Japanese and Korean and European carmakers. Right?

Harry January 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Yes, GM and the US would have been far better off had GM been allowed to go through bankruptcy. The only reason it wasn’t allowed, was to protect Obama’s political allies.

Rick Day January 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm

*blink*

Harry…how…did that attitude fly with the public when Mister Mitt said that?

And who allows conglomerates the size of GM to either go into bankruptcy or not?

Do you guys really think there is some dark sinister person behind the curtain, calling all the shots pushing buttons and protecting allies? You are never going to attract intelligent people back into your party with comments like this, Harry.

Harry January 21, 2013 at 4:47 pm
Harry January 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm
saltycracker January 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

GM went bankrupt but in this unusual case the Feds determined the winners & loosers for the “New” GM.

jiminga January 22, 2013 at 7:04 am

In case you missed it, GM did file for bankruptcy. The difference was the proceedings violated existing bankruptcy law while the terms were dictated by Obama.

You have bought into liberal talking point “facts” that just aren’t true. Pass the Kool Aid.

saltycracker January 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Did we exceed MLK’s dream when the balance went from sound demands for equality to Bill Campbell’s “it’s our turn” speech ?

seenbetrdayz January 21, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I wonder what MLK would think of things like the NDAA indefinite detention, Patriot Act, or ‘Free Speech zones.’

It’s always interesting to see some of the same people who flippantly dismiss crucial principles of liberty rally around MLK day. Well, maybe it’s not that interesting.

seenbetrdayz January 21, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Figure no one here knows anything about MLK’s attempt to get a CWP:

MLK man of Peace, but no pushover
http://gunowners.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/martin-luther-king-jr-man-of-peace-but-no-pushover/

saltycracker January 21, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Doggone biased TV media covering two free meal celebrations showed able bodied men (black & white) , no old folks, no kids, no women…….except serving…..

Nonchalant January 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Polite golf clap.

Dave Bearse January 21, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I had been waiting for the next post on gun control to bring Rush Limbaugh’s assinine comments into a PP thread. (“who SAYS he was beat upside the head”? WTF?)

Few conservatives are racists. The ugly truth is that racists are at times critcal to the GOP margin of victory, making the GOP afraid to put Rush Limbaugh-types in check.

“Often mistaken as the voice of the Republican Party, Limbaugh’s audience demonstrates the demographic problem the Republicans face.” As Lindsey Graham said, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

Michael Steele had to apologize only a couple of months after being elected RNC Chairman after Steele said: “Rush Limbaugh — his whole thing is entertainment. He has this incendiary — yes, it’s ugly.”

The apology: “My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”

Pathetic. I know you (and many if not most other Republicans) reject Limbaugh, Charlie, but Limbaugh is indeed the voice of the GOP when the RNC Chairman has to apologize after calling Limbaugh an “entertainer” and “incendiary”.

Harry January 21, 2013 at 11:21 pm

I must be an angry white guy, because I find Rush to be an influential and effective voice for conservatives.

Dave Bearse January 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

Without a doubt influential—my example was Rush supporters dictating to the RNC Chairman, while the entire GOP leadership remained mute.

Decreasingly effective with respect to governing, indeed a liability per Charlie and others, as indicated by Lindsey’s remark.

Joseph January 22, 2013 at 7:17 am

Here is what I struggle with, during the Campign – Mitt articulated a point that “Women are looking for jobs not … (Insert birth control, abortions, etc)” – that seemed like a very rational point and I bought into that line of thinking, yet exit polling showed that more women in-fact made their decision based on those issues rather than economic issues. Which goes back to terrible optics by others in the Party (ala Todd Akin, et al).

However – I think messaging and optics are only part of the problem. This idea that some token outreach campaign to minorities is going to bring votes is just silly.

The Republican Party must realize that we are now in a Country where people expect the Government to help citizens obtain the American dream. Now – how we execute that is where we can draw the distinction from Democrats. Whereas Democrats seem content simply to give people fish, Republicans must be willing to teach people how to fish. We must come up with a plan where government helps transition people from dependence to independence while working within the current structure of social safety net programs as to not appear to be throwing the most needy out into the streets.

Democrats will demagogue about how Republicans ARE throwing grandma or single mother or child into the streets, however – this is where cohesive messaging comes into play. While women did not seem to follow the logical argument of economy vs. reproductive issues, we did a terrible job in messaging and the Democrats exposed it within HOURS. I still have hope (or I’m still naive) that a SIMPLE cohesive message about helping Americans genuinely achieve their American Dream would influence the electorate.

And all of this applies all sorts of issues we need to address, criminal justice reform, tax reform, wise use of defense funding (however – do not read that as broad reduction of defense spending – I am for sure a believer in “speak softly and carry a big stick”).

So – to boil it down, education is key. Not only the actual education system – but the way we educate America on our ideals.

Dave Bearse January 22, 2013 at 9:13 am

Women perhaps weren’t enarmored of Mitt’s trickle-down ideology.

You’re dependence vs independence as the core argument is unlikely to succeed.

Social security isn’t giving people fish. It’s largely an insurance program where benefits reflect contributions—yes it needs some tweaking to maintain long term solvency.

Medicare/Medicaid reflect a right to basic healthcare, a well-established right even if it’s not plainly spelled out in the Constitution. Healthcare needs much in the way of change. Conservatives aren’t helping themselves by belaboring the current system as dependence. We’re all for the most part dependent, if not on government-based programs, then on employers and the insurance industry.

Three Jack January 22, 2013 at 9:39 am

Dave wrote, “We’re all for the most part dependent, if not on government-based programs, then on employers and the insurance industry.”

There is a tremendous difference between freeloaders being dependent on government and producers earning a living on behalf of an employer. Those who wake everyday seeking handouts without doing anything to deserve what they get are a drain on society. Dependency on redistributed revenue without offering any redeeming value is not a virtue. To try and lump freeloaders with those who fund their generational freeloading into one big dependency category may be the ultimate goal of your politics, but thankfully is not yet reality.

There is no ‘basic right to healthcare’ at the expense of another. Unfortunately over time this myth has devolved into a perceived reality that is becoming increasingly difficult to overcome. Eventually we will either come to grips with the fact that collectivism is fiscally impossible to sustain or go bankrupt.

seenbetrdayz January 22, 2013 at 9:15 am

I’m not entirely opposed to safety nets. But, the difference between a safety net and a hammock is how long you stay in it after you land.

We have, whether we choose to admit it or not, established an entire class of welfare recipients who happen to vote. Our tax code essentially traps people in those lifestyles, because of some arbitrary limits. You make $9,999 a year, you get Obama phones, food stamps, subsidized housing, subsidized healthcare, etc. etc. etc., but if you make $10,000 per year, you lose it all (those aren’t the real numbers, it’s an example but the way it works is essentially the same). Who wants to become a producer when producers get introduced to the lovely world of taxation? So people are, basically, trapped, in a way.

saltycracker January 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

Seen,
While agreeing with you and TJ the Republican response is to get their cut of the money pie but find themselves on the short end of a quid pro quo game.

Neither side participated in the most expensive election in history to be fair. It is going to take a visionary leader or a crisis from the Feds being out of cards to play to change our ways.

saltycracker January 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

“If John Lewis, who says he was beat upside the head, if John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge?”

No, he would have been shot dead by the law. In those days the marchers were a concern with the local police. The non- violent approach against authority and the mob was brilliant and got them the needed public support/respect.

saltycracker January 22, 2013 at 11:20 am

Modify: mob not mind – darn iPhone

Mike Hassinger January 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Fixed it for ya. The autocorrect feature vexes me, too.

Daddy Got A Gun January 23, 2013 at 7:32 am

You should get the book, Deacons for Defense by Lance Hill. Its about how the Deacons protected civil rights workers with GUNS and occasionally used them. This malarkey about “non-violence” in the civil rights movement is a nice story for the guilt-ridden, cowardly, white NY liberal crowd but its far from the truth.

Here is a link to part of their story, in particular how one BRAVE Black American stood up to the Klan and the Democrats with a tiny pistol: http://www.gunowners.org/op0438.htm Here’s a small part of their heroic story:

“As the mob threatened to break into the car, Deacon Henry Austin shouted that he had a gun. Then he fired a warning shot from his .38 into the air. The mob kept closing in. Austin then fired almost point blank into the chest of Alton Crowe who was in the front of the mob. While Crowe survived, the fun of beating up on blacks died that afternoon in Bogalusa.”

Every night Condoleezza Rice’s father sat on his porch with a shotgun to protect his neighborhood from the KKK, police officers, and Democrats.

Is it any wonder why the Democrats now want to confiscate our guns?

myarbrough61 January 22, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Well Mr. Harper…your pathetic commentary doesn’t hold a candle to Rush Limbaugh…He is light years ahead of you…quit trying to be BMOC…

Bridget Cantrell January 22, 2013 at 10:20 pm

I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic. Are you slamming Charlie and defending Limbaugh or being funny?

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