Saturday, August 24, 2013

Martin Luther King || Tears of Time

©2013 Turtle Heart

I was a teenager when Dr. King was murdered. I wept. I cried like a baby. I was a young man in Columbus Ohio. At the time, my mother, a dedicated Southern Baptist, carried me to White Hall Baptist Church every Sunday. That Sunday I stayed up almost all night preparing a speech that the pastor allowed me to give that Sunday. And I did that. My first public speech was a memorial to Martin Luther King to a southern Baptist church filled with white people. It was almost certainly a turning point in my life.

Today, some 50 years later, here we are again. It is not a day of celebration, though it is, it is yet another pivotal moment where the old white men who dominate the GOP politics of 35 US states and who stand in unprecedented obstruction and clueless impotence in the US Government have doubled down on their contempt and fear of people of color.

This morning I watched a 1966 rebroadcast of Dr. King speaking on Meet the Press. In my mind I made the contrast between that Meet the Press and the laughingly inept Meet the Press that is appearing today. The contrast between that moment and this, seen in that show, is astonishing. In 1966 that show was interested in the truth, in the movements of freedom. Today, hosted by a clown whose name is not worth spelling out, it is a propaganda machine spinning the opposition to our first African American United States President

Obama is not a Martin Luther King. He is almost certainly a good and intelligent and honest human being, but he is not a Martin Luther King. King was fearless. He spoke truth to power relentlessly and eloquently. Obama is polite, cautious and reserved. As Doctor King moved through his life, he did not blink, and he never took a backwards step. He was not timid. He was a real leader. King inspired me to make the choice to stand with my American Indian ancestors. My mother was a fair-skinned, slightly red-haired Celtic woman; my father a dark-skinned Ojibwe American Indian hiding out and pretending to be a “white man”. During those times I began to understand that I needed to make a choice about where I wanted to stand. As an adult man I chose to stand with the American Indians. Martin Luther King inspired me to have the courage to do that.

Obama has American Indian ancestors. In 2007 he was even adopted by the great Crow Nation and given the name “Black Eagle”. In American Indian cultures, adoption of a “relative” is a profoundly sacred ceremony, a part of, and contained with the roots of our ancient sacred religious and ceremonial practices, centuries old. So many American Indians were optimistic that at last someone at the Federal level might embrace the many devastating and terrible problems that face American Indians all over this country.

It never happened. It is not going to happen. Everything from education to health care to outright persecution and violence against American Indians is getting worse. The same is true for civil rights for African Americans and Latino Americans, all that progress brought forward on the might shoulders and illuminated soul of Martin Luther King is being diluted, diverted, re-defined and actually turned around, even by the once noble Supreme Court.

The new inspiration is seen in the likes of one time Senator Ted Cruz, who, like Obama is also a one term US Senator, is going to try and be the next US President to jump out from the shadows of inexperience and ego to further lead us towards the New Mediocrity.

I recently heard the flatulent Ted Cruz compared in intellect to the late and truly great conservative William F. Buckley. I commented at the time that comparing Cruz to Buckley as like comparing a deep and ancient river to a puddle of baby pee on the sidewalk.

I voted for Obama in both his elections. If we had voted in John McCain the world would be at war…McCain is clearly the most dangerous and imbalanced candidate to seek the Office in generations. So I voted for Obama when I really wanted to be voting for Hillary Clinton. Then there was the Empty Suit, ugly bag of mostly water with the name of Romney. So it was off to vote for Obama a second time. I am a registered democrat, but I have voted for Republicans from time to time. I voted for Nixon, from the jungle of Vietnam. I did that because he was the one US President who actually did things real and powerful and beautiful for American Indians, he alone among all the others…though these facts are not well known and in spite of all of his other problems and failings. He cracked open the door to China, a mixed but important blessing.

So what has happened to the Great Dream of Martin Luther King? Where has it gone? Obama is an intelligent and principled President…but intelligence is not Leadership- The Republicans have, seemingly, all the real political power, but Power is not Leadership. And look around the eight directions of our world…it is the same bleak picture. Lots of Intelligent People, lots of Powerful People…but not much leadership.

I find I am still waiting for Hilary Clinton.

And today when I looked at Martin Luther King, I wept again.

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