Wednesday, January 19, 2011

KING - January 20, 2011

Once again, as Martin Luther King moves from civil beatification to sainthood, it is time to remember who has won a place with him in the memory of the American people. For it is easy to forget that the Civil Rights Movement, while advancing the civilization of our people, was a noisy and somewhat disorderly experience, marked by civil disobedience and some that occasionally lacked some of its civility. It is always the case that there are those who would prefer that protest take place at low decibels, so that the ruling classes can get on with their agenda. Cynics describe this as the desire of those classes to have their war in peace. There were places, including some universities, some cities, some states and some countries, that signed on to the protest, and there were others for which the ripples in the fabric of order were enough that they labeled people like Dr. King as disturbers of the peace, even when that peace, paradoxically, involved the passive signing on to war, despite the nagging of conscience. Two of the latter class were named Wisconsin, both the State and the University. In the academic year 1967-68, Dr. King had come out in support of protests against the war, in both places. This irregularity was taken as nearly treasonable by the establishments in both. In the University, he was nominated for an honorary doctorate by the Department of Sociology with scattered support. As nearly as can be discerned in a committee that declined to offer any rationale, the anger that was manifest in some of the Establishment over his failure to second the false account that put us into the war was taken as nearly treasonable. And thus Wisconsin managed to place itself into the dishonor roll of those who would not join in praising Dr. King’s message of peace until later in that year, when he had already been assassinated, and in many cases not until much later. One poet wrote of those who would hold back their praise for Truth “till her cause shall come to flower and ‘tis prosperous to be just”. So today the State and University praise Dr. King every January as though we had not denied him when he was still alive to do his great work.

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