The other night, Pete, my husband of 5 to 25 with time off for good behavior, set up the turntable in the attic, where we on an almost nightly basis use ancient exercise equipment while watching Rocky & Bullwinkle. Thursday, Pete discovered the cats had rewired the speakers through some sophisticated use of tools and a fine howdyado; Pete had re-rewired the speakers with gimlet eye and spiteful so-there. In other words, you would not have believed the metaphor pileup when I climbed the stairs and sat down on the rowing machine while the turntable and the speakers blasted Pete’s favorite Pete Seeger record and Talking Union. The music was very loud until I cranked up the rowing and hollered the words to Which Side Are You On? The latter song is good for pacing and breath control, but while you are really exerting yourself, be careful singing We Shall Overcome, for one thing because you are going to think of some very serious shit and schlamiels in suits and inexplicably out of clown shoes. Get a load of the hot steaming stupid:
Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel, posed that question at today’s Pentagon commemoration of King’s legacy.
In the final year of his life, King became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, Johnson told a packed auditorium. However, he added, today’s wars are not out of line with the iconic Nobel Peace Prize winner’s teachings.
This is what it sounds like when a true believer picks a name out of the Famous Dead People Hat and turns that famous person into someone he or she simply never was, but who approves of the true believer. This is like Tony Blair had hinted Gandhi went in for a little imperialist adventure now and then. This is like the American Cattlemen adopting Francis of Assisi. This is like the bishops saying Jesus wouldn’t mind a little child molesting. Dudes, if there was a Jesus and he was who you say he was, you are in the deepest of deep shit FOREVER, NO BACKSIES. And Mr. Johnson? What part of non-violence and economic justice condones war?
In King’s last speech in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968 – the night before he died – King evoked the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, Johnson noted.
According to the parable, a traveler was beaten and robbed and left for dead. Two other travelers passed the man as he lay alongside the road – one was a priest. Both ignored the man and continued on their way. Finally, a Samaritan traveling the road showed compassion and took the stranger to an inn and saw to his care.
In his speech, King drew a parallel between those who passed by the man on the road and those in Memphis who at the time hesitated to help striking sanitation workers because they feared for their own jobs.
Johnson said King criticized those who are compassionate by proxy, noting the civil rights leader told the audience in Memphis that night, “The question is not, ‘If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?’ The question is, ‘If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?'”
I hate to break it to you, Mr. Johnson, but helping striking sanitation workers reach an agreement for decent pay, benefits and working conditions is not the same as dropping bombs on defenseless civilians in a country that can’t be bombed back into a Stone Age that has yet to happen, and you simply cannot extrapolate from a speech about justice that the speechwriter would support an unjust and illegal war. Or you can, but please put on the clown shoes so we know you’re not trying to pass yourself off as a big thinker. You’re certainly not much of a comedy writer.
Volunteers in today’s military, he said, “have made the conscious decision to travel a dangerous road and personally stop and administer aid to those who want peace, freedom and a better place in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in defense of the American people.
“Every day, our servicemen and women practice the dangerousness – the dangerous unselfishness Dr. King preached on April 3, 1968,” Johnson told the audience.
…because if that’s not funny, perhaps it’s because hundreds of thousands of people have been administered to death, much like in that war Dr. King objected to in life.