Sunday, January 15, 2006

A magic MLK illusion!

Courtesy of The Smoking Gun, this picture is supposedly one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s earliest mug shots, dated 1956 and recently found in the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department archives. But this is far more than a mere artifact of history; this is an optical illusion!

Some will look at the mug shot and see one of the greatest human beings of the 20th century, a true example of the need for activism and a paragon of peace. A man who refused to accept deeply ingrained social mores and devoted (and eventually surrendered) his life to righting wrongs in society, even when that goal seemed impossible. For these people, this photo represents a bygone era in which civil disobedience and sheer persistence were the preferred methods of getting things done. When regular people put themselves on the line because the cause was worth it, and weren't afraid to face the humiliation and danger that often ensued from the opposition (who had only barbaric taunts as an intellectual defense). That significance is in the image that I see.

Others will miss that and instead see the person they blame most for ending the "good ol' days" when "everyone knew their place." The man responsible for what some derisively call, "James Earl Ray Day." Those people see an image of the man who was referred to as "Martin Lucifer Coon" in internal GOP documents as late as the 1980s. A man whose holiday they ridicule even as they spend that day on their front porches, drinking mint juleps and whining about how nothing Those People want is ever enough, all the while thanking God that they don't live anywhere near Martin Luther King Blvd. This view of the illusion can be accredited to the backwards, myopic thinking of social conservatives who would rather have left the Good Reverend in the clink forevermore. Indeed, the very ones responsible for inscribing on the picture, "DEAD 4-4-68." And I hope everyone sees that illusion as well, just as a stark reminder of what kind of attitude remains in the way of true equality.

In 6th grade, I was asked by an African-American classmate (whom I hadn't yet met) how I felt about Dr. King. I said, "I think he's a great man. How could I not like him after what he did?" Somewhat taken aback, she replied, "Okay, good! I like you. You're a good person." I always admired such a bold question, and highly recommend it if you want to gauge the true depth of someone's soul.

MLK was an amazing man; anyone telling you differently is dillusioned.

13 comments:

Neil Shakespeare said...

Just did an MLK post myself. When I was a pup back in the late 50's and first heard of Martin Luther King I thought he was the King of the Lutherans (we, as Swedish Lutherans, were big Martin Luther fans). Still don't know how he got that name, he being a Baptist and all.

Ptelea said...

I am amazed at how many Americans still think MLK was just a troublemaker. It must be ignorance (among other things) because how can you help but be inspired if you take the time to learn about the man?

Flamingo Jones said...

Hey Neil...we're Swedish Lutherans too! Even though I'm only Swedish through my dad's adoption....I really only get the Swedish surname, and somehow the pale skin.

Still a big fan of Martin Luther though. I love a rebel.

Probably why I'm also a big fan of MLK too.

Nick said...

"Those people see an image of the man who was referred to as "Martin Lucifer Coon" in internal GOP documents as late as the 1980s."

That's certainly a fair statement as I have no doubt that there are still racists in the Repub. party, like David Duke.

However, why leave out members of your own party, such as Robert Byrd, who actively recruited around 150 people to form his own chapter in WV? He even used the word "nigger" to describe people in an interview just a year or so ago. I'm sure you can find racists about in both parties, however, hard core partisans just won't admit it.

Ian McGibboney said...

Well, I can't excuse Byrd. But at least he's trying to make up for it. How are your boys doing?

Nick said...

How are "my boys doing?" If you mean by Repubs., not much better or worse than yours. At least I try to be fair at times. You ALWAYS try to be a partisan hack be convinently leaving out times when your party is guilty of the same thing.

Now for "my real boys," Walton & Johnson and Charlie Daniels, they're doing fine. Haven't been able to listen to W&J lately because I'm having problems with the streaming audio when up in Mississippi.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, how can I be a partisan hack when I don't even have a party? I'm curious to see where I mindlessly defended a Democrat. I sure didn't just now.

As for "your real boys," why don't you ask them wehre they stand. As far as I can tell, Charlie Daniels is a dyed-in-the-wool, hard-wired Republican. Walton and Johnson seem pretty partisan too, for the most part.

Nick said...

Um...Charlie Daniels is very critical of the recent administrations policies that favor NAFTA.

As for Walton and Johnson, believe me, I've heard them criticize Bush and conservatives 50 times more than you criticize Democrats, and that's not an exaggeration. Hell, they constantly called both Bush and Kerry assclowns throughout the whole '04 campaign. Actually, I don't think I've ever heard you criticize a Dem. before except maybe Leiberman. Again, convinently leaving out mentioning Robert Byrd in your shot of some GOP communication documents having racist remarks when Byrd himself started his own KKK CHAPTER

jenny said...

i'm sorry ian for being off-topic here. but swedish lutheran? i had no idea this even existed! now, granted that i'm an atheist, but i'm very swedish. and here i am thinking i know everything associated with my nationality. so our divorsed church has branches in the u.s.. what do you know. :)

Ian McGibboney said...

Jen, don't worry about going off-topic. There's barely yet been a comment on MLK. Well, it's better than "Me too," certainly.

Yes, there're plenty of religions to choose from in the big supermarket that is the United States; some of their sample-reps are simply more aggressive than others. "You MUST try this! It's the only good taste in the store!"

Nick, you offer the fact that Charlie differs from the GOP on one issue as proof that he isn't partisan. With that logic, you should consider me very unpartisan, because my views diverge wildly from the sorry state of the current Democratic mainstream.

As for Walton and Johnson, you would know more about them, because I frankly can't stand to listen to them. Their voices are grating and their "comedy" is obnoxious. Their Bush jokes are not nearly as spirited as any one well-crafted Clinton jab.

But enough about them. PLEASE. This a Martin Luther King thread, and for about the third time this week you've steered a thread way off course. Maybe I'm not helping, but this is ridiculous.

Regarding the GOP slam on King's name during the Reagan era: I find high-ranking internal documents that circulate among the party of the president too serious of a matter to eqaute it with, "Well, one mid-level Democrat was in the KKK a long time ago."

Flamingo Jones said...

Yeah, jenny....the Swedes have contributed quite a bit to the Lutheran faith here. At least around here (I won't speak for the rest of the country, where there aren't as many Lutheran churches of any variety) there are typically Lutherans of German lineage or Scandinavian lineage. My family has always attended churches in a Swedish/Norwegian founded synod, but I went to 6th-8th grade in a German founded synod school. They're similar enough in theology to be in fellowship with one another, but the general attitudes do seem to differ. The German seemed kind of harsher and law-oriented to me, whereas the Scandinavian seemed more compassion and gospel oriented. I'm more comfortable with that, personally.


Sorry Ian.

MLK Rules.

PusBoy said...

But Ian, Martin Luther King was a communist!

Actually, I owe my livelihood to Dr. King. And yes, it's still amazing the people I run into who hate him for being uppity and Muhammad Ali for "draft dodging."

Ian McGibboney said...

Here's something weird that just happened to me: I was looking for the tidbit about the GOP's derisive MLK comments while watching "SNL: The best of Tom Hanks." Right when I found the reference, Kevin Nealon said in a sketch that he was a Swedish Lutheran. Wow. That might mean something, but it probably doesn't.