Apologies to Dr. King

The first apology is for being a wimp and skipping the first part of my usual Martin Luther King Day routine. Monday morning brought a continuation of the rain that had been falling all weekend, and I just couldn’t get motivated to march through Lexington in the rain. I know that Dr. King and those who marched with him faced far greater adversities than a little bit of rain. If they had been so easily discouraged, our nation would be far worse off than it is today. But fortunately, thanks to Dr. King, and those who carried on his work after his death, the kind of protests and demands for change that he led are far less necessary, and recent marches are more a celebration of diversity and an acknowledgment of his accomplishments than an ongoing struggle for justice. And since the Lexington march usually draws a fairly good crowd, I didn’t think my absence would make much of a difference.

But my conscience wouldn’t let me waste the whole day. I do feel that it’s important to remember Dr. King’s work, and remember why his birthday is a holiday. I don’t want to see it turn into just another day off. I think those of us who work for employers progressive enough to honor Dr. King with a holiday need to use at least part of that time in some activity that keeps his memory alive. As I see it, that’s what my employer is paying me to do on that day.

So, to ease my conscience, I spent the afternoon, as I have in recent years, at the Paris MLK Day events. The weather was dismal, but the rain held off for most of the march, only dampening us with a slight drizzle at the end. As I’ve mentioned before, the Paris crowd is far smaller and less diverse than the Lexington crowd, and I feel it’s a little more important to help increase the turnout at that one.

Ironically, the main speaker at the Paris event was a bigwig from my employer, the Vice President for University Initiatives and Associate Provost for Multicultural & Academic Affairs. In his speech (which was excellent), he mentioned the same concern I have about people forgetting the purpose of the day. (He said something about it turning into a glorified Groundhog Day, where people poke their head out of the darkness one day a year).

But my real apology to Dr. King is for having some rather un-King-like thoughts on his weekend. Not surprisingly, I’m extremely unhappy with the Bush administration’s plans to escalate the war in Iraq. As I mentioned last year, Dr. King’s strong opposition to the Vietnam war leaves little doubt as to how he would feel about the Iraq war. But Dr. King was also dedicated to non-violence, and he probably would never have considered what I found myself thinking this weekend.

It occurred to me that we have reached a situation probably unprecedented in our nation’s history. We have a President and Vice-President who are becoming completely isolated and out of touch with reality and the rest of the world. They have lost the support of our allies. They have lost the support of their own people. They have lost the support of Congress. They have lost the support of the military. In essence, our nation’s fate is being trashed by a couple of lunatics.

Even impeachment doesn’t seem to be an adequate solution. Impeaching Bush would accomplish nothing unless we could also impeach Cheney immediately afterwards, before he had a chance to appoint a successor.

As I thought about how even high-ranking military officers, who are usually loyal to their Commander-in-Chief no matter how much of a nutcase he is, are beginning to publicly speak out against him, I realized what we need. We need the military to refuse to participate in his madness. And we need more than that.

We need more than a mutiny. We need a coup. We need tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue, crashing through the White House gates, and taking back our government for the people. If Bush and Cheney want to run off to their secure undisclosed locations, that’s fine with me. Let the chickens run. There’s no need to track them down and smoke them out, as long as they’re cowering in their bunkers no longer able to wreak havoc on the world.

I’m sorry, Dr. King. I know that’s a betrayal of your legacy of non-violence. That’s probably even worse than not marching in the rain this morning. But I just can’t help thinking how wonderful it would be.

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