19 January 2004

today is martin luther king day.

the mayor of atlanta, shirley franklin, had this to say to the president (from the times article): "Perhaps some prefer to honor the dreamer while ignoring or fighting the dream,'' she said. "For those of us who hold elective office, the public policy we advocate and adopt -- from foreign affairs to domestic budgeting -- tells the real story of our celebration of Dr. King's legacy. ... Can't we protect our borders and promote peace around the world?''

franklin's speech drew a standing ovation, as well it should have. coretta scott king, sounding a somewhat different note, spoke on the need to end, or at least moderate, acrimony in politics. is there a way to make politics less acrimonious without bowing to attempts, like bush's, to "honor the dreamer while ignoring or fighting the dream"? i don't know.

king's message of nonviolence and social justice seems as difficult and as radical today as it did in the '60's. and only some of the challenges are different. american schools are still segregated. i'm still working on race discrimination cases -- lots of them -- at work.

meanwhile, the challenges that are new are also *really* scary: the bush brothers making speeches to "honor" dr. king; war in the name of peace; destruction of our welfare state with a rhetoric of empowerment. it's this new sort of affront to the memory of dr. king that has me clicking back and forth between mlk day coverage and iowa caucus coverage. i'm hoping the dems will field someone who doesn't speak bush's orwellian language. obviously, i'd like it to be dean -- in fact, i think it will be. the important thing will be finding someone who's willing to risk charges of acrimony in order to point out the differences between bush's rhetoric and his policy.