December 11, 2009
Typical Establishment Hypocrisy
But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached — their fundamental faith in human progress — that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith — if we dismiss it as silly or nave; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace — then we lose what’s best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”

Let us reach for the world that ought to be — that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.

Can someone explain to me why the repeated invocation of Martin Luther King in a speech designed to justify policies he would have wholeheartedly condemned is not hypocritical in the extreme?

If you want to grab some of Martin’s mantle, you have to take his policies along with it. You can’t triple the size of the war machine’s effort in a poor remote country that did nothing to us and still claim to have inherited the tradition of a person who never saw a war he liked. Own up, Mr. Nobel Prize Winner.

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at December 11, 2009 07:23 AM
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Disagree! We live in a real world, not some dystopian fantasy where everything is sweetness and light or dark and evil. I've read Barry's speech several times and have a strong feeling this guy has it figured out. He's not an idealogue, he's no messiah, he's not a liberal savant... he's a crafty political animal in the right place at the right time.

I think the pragmatism he talks about is real and strikes an honest balance between what we want and need to do. We liberal progressives need to take a pill and understand this is a long, uphill grade we are dragging our sorry asses up right now, in low gear and slow speed. Momentum, pace, speed... it will come, have some fricking patience!

Posted by: Oblio on December 11, 2009 10:47 AM

Patience is what the Establishment has preached for millennia. We have real restrictions, we can't afford to do what every citizen demands because the rich are hurting. Soon as we get them fixed up, we'll be all over this jobs and peace thing.

It'll come! Of course, by the time it does, our great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren will be dead.

People who are for any war at all ever in any place or time cannot, I submit, honestly call themselves progressives. Liberal interventionists, yes; but war is war and the leaders either ramp it up or stop it. If the former, they're war criminals by the definition established by the US at Nuremberg, pure and simple.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree on December 11, 2009 4:13 PM

Peace man and here is my jobs program:

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Source: USA Today
The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal alary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.
. . .

The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.
When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.
. . .

The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker's pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.

I never earned 100K and I worked as a mechanical engineer, I made my bosses rich but I participated in a real economy..that is fucking gone now forever

Posted by: slothrop on December 11, 2009 4:51 PM

"...have some fricking patience!"

Baloney.

Nope, I'll go with good Doctor King:

"We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice."

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/318311/Martin-Luther-King-Jr/3916/The-Montgomery-bus-boycott

Posted by: George on December 11, 2009 10:45 PM

Thanks, George, that's exactly the quote I was thinking of 8-). But seriously, it illustrates the point that I hoped originally to make: that Obama's speech invokes Gandhi and King in ways and for purposes they would object to. To talk in terms of the ideas of peacemakers as justification for war is dishonestly to treat their ideas as endorsing something they would have disclaimed.

A big part of this whole thing, of course, is whether one has a complete history of Martin's life in mind. He was by no means only a civil rights agitator, he was strongly anti-war and not that happy with the corporate state in general. Realistically, how much had it ever done for him or anyone he cared about? Not to mention ancestors.

Martin was much more radical in life than the images popular history preserves of him. He's been sanitized by people like Obama, who doesn't currently deserve the mantle he's trying to assume in his Nobel speech. I admit that even I had hoped for more from him than this.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree on December 11, 2009 11:07 PM
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