INSTRUCTION FROM A SECULAR SAINT! Dr. King encountered a climate of hate. We recall the way he reacted: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, JANUARY 17, 2011
Instruction from a secular saint: Last week, we mentioned a blindingly obvious fact: In a time of tribal hatred, members of Our Own Infallible Tribe will eventually engage in grave conduct, just like The Other Tribe does.
On Saturday, an unfortunate event helped show what we meant. Nicole Santa Cruz reported the event in the Los Angeles Times:
Is it true? Did Palin, Beck and Angle really get their first target" when Jared Loughner shot Gabrielle Giffords? Fuller, a Giffords supporter, was still repeating this charge on Thursday. Two days later, he was arrested for seeming to make a public threat.
When the news hit the Washington Post, some conservatives began to make snarky commentsand some progressives began to reply. The tribalism was quite general. In just the first dozen comments, people offered these reactions to the conservative snark:
I live in Tucson, another early commenter said. People who don't live here don't understand the very tense political climate The guy was just shot, and witnessed carnage. Maybe it's all been too much for him. Actually, it's all been too much for a lot of usand with no end in sight.
Concerning Fuller, those last comments are perfectly decent and fairbut they also constitute a warning. To borrow the language of those other comments: Liberal disgust with those crazy tea baggers could inspire the next angry person to shoot, not to issue mere threats. Its foolish to think that only The Other (crazy) Tribe will ever engage in real violence.
How has the country responded to Jared Loughners mass shooting? Over the weekend, we were stunned by some of the foolishness in the mainstream pressand by some of the ugliness on the liberal web. (For the most part, well leave it to others to track the pseudo-conservative nonsense and uglinessthough we also reviewed Bill OReillys deeply unfortunate conduct from last Mondays OReilly Factor.) Well look at some of these efforts this week; for today, well only mention the massive dumbness of this massive spread on page one of the Washington Post Outlook section. What does it mean when one of the countrys major newspapers offers such a foolishand disingenuouspiece as this, its featured rumination about last weeks events?
Do mainstream news orgsdo leading liberalsknow how to respond to the current climate? Over the weekend, we though we saw a lot of nonsense and a lot of bad judgment. But on this day, we will suggest you remember the person who showed the world how to respond to a climate of hateand showed the world how to win.
This is Dr. Kings annual day. This may explain why the New York Times features an op-ed column today about the political murder of Patrice Lumumba! (An Assassinations Long Shadow, the headline says. But then, when we read the New York Times, were often semi-flummoxed.)
(Please note: Theres nothing wrong with this pieceand it carries an obvious hook.)
This is Dr. Kings annual day. In the past week, weve been thinking about the best book we read last yearDr. Kings Stride Toward Freedom (1958), his account of the Montgomery bus boycott. In Montgomery, Dr. King encountered a genuine climate of hate; in the end, this climate would take his life. But again, we encourage you to consider the way Dr. King reacted when his own house was bombed, for the first time, by unknown people, in Montgomery, in January 1956.
In this account, Dr. King described the way he decided, later that night, that he must reject corroding anger. Incredibly, Dr. King had just turned 27 when these events occurred:
I tried to put myself in the place of the police commissioners, Dr. King wrote, in the most remarkable written passage we can think ofexcept perhaps for Lincolns Second Inaugural Address, whose moral reasoning Dr. King tracks in this remarkable passage. Even their churches and ministers had led these city leaders astray, Dr. King said. They had been so instructed from their earliest daysfrom the cradle.
Dr. King always refused to hate, even in the face of this first bombing. Except for the deeply fallen, its quite hard to hate a person like that. This helps explain why Dr. King was the last centurys greatest achiever.
In our tribe, we claim to admire Dr. King, but we dont often seem to behave or reason as he did. We were struck by many reactions this weekendin the mainstream press, on our own liberal web. Last summer, though, we got very lucky when we reread this staggering book.