The Message is 'King' genre: Polispeak

Before Coretta Scott King was able to reach her final resting place, comments made at her funeral upholding the underlying principles of non-violence, that were the hallmark of the King legacy, were being characterized as rude by those who, in contrast, routinely acquiesce to politicking and force when confronted with opposition. In true form, it took only moments for these privileged polibots to attempt to diminish the message and the messengers. Those who sought to pay homage to the King’s, spoke words that captured the essence and the purpose of their lives. Apparently, many Bush supporters felt those remarks were inappropriate and an affront towards the President. To criticize and call for the silencing of such remarks, made at a funeral for a woman who had lived a life of socio-political commentary and engagement, is tantamount to calling for surrender. Excuse me, but it is the invited guests and speakers that determine the decorum of a funeral. This was a funeral of choice, not an accident. The message intended was the message delivered.

Those who spoke this truth could have paid Coretta Scott King no better tribute.

The King’s and other icons of civil rights and social justice had no armies. Their weapons were their words…truth spoken to hypocrisy…truth spoken to indifference…truth spoken to bigotry…pure…simple…spoken truth. Hence, despite the feigned protestations and assertions of bad manners, those who spoke this truth could have paid Coretta Scott King no better tribute. Her death, rather than the natural silencing of a cause, was a call for a recommitment to the cause. It was a call to arms…a war with words as weapons spoken to restate the message of non-violent, yet unwavering objection to a status quo that divides, diminishes, and disenfranchises.

Day in and day out, Americans, who disagree with the policies of President Bush, see him make speeches to partisan crowds that are screened for dissenters and armed with softball questions meant to magnify the intended message of this President. Protestors have been removed from such events. In fact, at the State of the Union address, a message on a shirt led to the removal of Cindy Sheehan and the wife of a Republican congressman. Network apologists routinely excuse such practices stating that this President isn’t comfortable in an informal setting and isn’t an adept conversationalist. Is his Karl Rove strategy more acceptable because it’s deliberate but unspoken? Is a sincere message spoken in full view more insidious than a crafted one designed to diminish accountability and discussion?

Yesterday, there was also criticism of former President Jimmy Carter when he left the dais and walked past President Bush without an acknowledgment. Not one analyst brought forward any plausible explanations. It was simply viewed as a snubbing. It could have been a simple oversight or it could have been a response to the snubbing administered by President Bush when he bumped President Carter from the contingent attending the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Instead Kate O’Beirne is allowed to screech her hyperbolic assertion that President Carter is perhaps a worse former President than he was a sitting President. Apparently, decorum should be dictated by detractors but only when applied to Democrats. Nonetheless, despite this display of bad manners and poor judgment, the King family saw fit to invite President Bush to attend and to speak.

President Carter’s invoking the face of Katrina and domestic surveillance was also roundly criticized as inappropriate. Perhaps I’m biased but the contrast between the lack of response to a dead black woman in a wheelchair left seated outside the New Orleans convention center for days and attending Coretta Scott King’s funeral cannot go unmentioned. Are we to believe this President makes no political calculations? He may have found himself surprised and uncomfortable at the funeral but the stark comparison to the indignity of being left dead for days is all the perspective I need. Please, tell me which President represents the causes of African Americans? Isn’t it time white America stop offering condolences and apologies and begin to offer something tangible?

Pardon the indignation but George Bush cannot cater to wealthy white America for five years and expect Democrats to stand by and accept the outrage when he is criticized for the inherent hypocrisy found in his attending the funeral of one African American icon. I’ll even grant him the sincerity he seemed to exhibit at the funeral but that doesn’t change the fact that his deeds do a disservice to those who the King’s sought to support. Pointing out this disconnect is not only reasonable, it’s necessary. To the critics, the Bush apologists, and Karl Rove I say, “We accepted the politicization of Ronald Regan’s death with dignity and respect. Please withhold your privileged objections and keep your lily white pedicured paws off of our icons. Many of our messengers may have passed away but their message lives on loudly and clearly and we won’t apologize for repeating it. If you don’t want to hear it anymore, do something…or until then, please…spare me, save it, and SHUT UP!"

Daniel DiRito | February 8, 2006 | 1:36 PM
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