“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
This was re-posted by a great many people after the celebrations of Osama bin Laden’s death, but the first sentence was added by a Facebook user – written initially as her own thoughts followed by the accurate MLK Jr quote that starts with “Returning hate” – but changed after people tumbled and twittered, and Faced? (sure). Washington Post
I had wondered what loss of thousands MLK Jr was talking about but thought he meant some Cold War conflict that my Generation Y historical knowledge glossed over or the Jim Crow monstrosities.
Some had flagged the message, because King’s speeches normally focused on metaphors and avoided the first person. I think King usually stuck to metaphor because he knew his cause was just but he was just a guy. That kind of thing. The one image of MLK Jr that has always stuck with me is not his I Have a Dream Speech before the Lincoln Memorial, but a video of him on the Selma-Montgomery March.
This isn’t the image, but there’s a video of King marching with the others, and a gunshot rings out. At that moment, you can watch King jump, look positively frightened, and for just for an instant, check himself for bullet wounds.
Watching that, it demonstrated (to me at least) that King knew he wasn’t out on some ordained adventure and destined to be the guy to bring racial equality to America, or any of that revisionist malarky we attribute to dead noble human beings. He was a man who was trying to make a difference, and found it very probable that he would be shot dead like many “uppity” black men before him. He had a goal, but knew there were limitations.
King didn’t point fingers. He didn’t go to Selma and say “White people won’t let us cross this bridge and they’re nasty no good terrible for it.” Though I’m sure he recognized some were or else why would he be there? He was more effective for not rhetorically criticizing everything white people were doing wrong.
So now, on the fourth day of “oh look at these fellow Americans celebrating, they shouldn’t be doing that, how disgusting, SEALs shot unarmed terrorists this makes the whole thing horrible, etc” liberals, or at least some prominent liberal bloggers, are still trying to humiliate or shame other people into acting a certain way on this issue, and having expectations of military personnel that I couldn’t accomplish in a Tom Clancy video game on easy. (Though the US military has acted avoidably disgusting many other times). Interestingly, in King’s speech How Long, Not Long he had this to say about such a tactic:
“Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”
Clumsily moving this quote over into what I want it to, I think a problem liberals frequently have , and I am guilty of this, is we seek to humiliate people who don’t share our priorities. We have enough people to win over, and frankly, our methods aren’t working well. Bin Laden’s dead, it’s a good thing he is, life isn’t always neat but we try the best we can most of the time, react how you will, the end.