Saturday, April 5, 2008
Whatya Wanna Do Tanite Marty?
Sometimes, to avoid the sugary idiocy of the local news I switch over to the BBC International news, which is to be seen on one of the half-dozen public TV systems available on my cable TV lineup. Even though its to the left of Pravda at least the BBC tends to cut out the fluff and actually report events that are happening in places other than the US and to stay away from the puff pieces that have almost completely taken over American TV news.
But not always. The BBC decided to do its broadcast from the memorial service that was taking place in the courtyard of the motel where Dr. King was murdered. The broadcast was the usual giant dollop of hagiographic tripe that we've come to expect from our tamed and neutered liberal media. A certain amount of that is fair, or would be if we didnt have to hear about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson being slaveowners every time their names are mentioned, if every time we hear about the goodness of America we didnt have to revisit the treatment of the Indians; any reference to anything or anyone that was formerly held up as an ideal now comes with modifiers attached just so we dont forget what a poisoned legacy our greedy, imperialist society has accumulated over the centuries.
So why not King? How many people under the age of fifty actually remember Dr. King? My kids studied King-worship in school; they went to majority-minority schools (a term we have to thank the Civil Rights Industry spawned by Dr. King's legacy for) and the warm, fuzzy propaganda was somewhat offset by the behavior of the poor oppressed minorities who have used their newfound freedom and equality to overcome their former meekness in ways not covered by the cum-bi-ya platitudes of the the Liberal Weepers. But Dr. King himself is a mere icon, a poster hung on the wall. The soul-stirring eloquence of his words was missing. How come? It seems the greedy King family, less interested in the legacy of Dr. King then in their legacy have attached exorbitant fees to the public play of any of his speeches, causing an almost total blackout of King's voice from the airwaves and any documentaries that are likely to be shown in schools. Did you notice, in all the hand-wringing praise of King that was so ubiquitous last night how his actual voice was almost completely absent? The film clips were sparse and far between. We got hours of Jesse Jackson and Roger Wilkins but brief seconds of King himself.
Of course it was never mentioned how far King had fallen in the Civil Rights movement by the time he was assassinated. The 'movement' had developed a taste for the much more savory views of H Rap Brown and Huey Newton by that time. Why show a bunch of suit and tie wearing Negroes when you could show shotgun-toting dashiki-clad Blacks threatening to exact revenge on their former oppressors? Thats great TV! The activists had completely dropped the non-violent rhetoric, and the love of violence had spilled into the hearts of the spoiled baby-boomers, trapped in the new systems of state universities by their 2S draft deferments (and cowardly fear of service in Viet Nam) and at the mercy of formerly powerless seedy academic parasites now filled with the lust for the power the old order had so wisely denied them. "Bombard the headquarters!" said Chairman Mao and these middle class spoiled brats joined hands with their Black counterparts to throw the books written by Dead White Men into the bonfire and to mouth the platitudes of revolution and violence. King was old news. Until he was shot.
The emerging Civil Rights Industry needed an ultimate victim, an icon whose appearance ended all argument; the mere sight of Dr. King's profile ensured that the viewer understood what an undeniably racist society we were living in; Martin died for our racist sins. Payment for our racist sins was in the form of the burgeoning War On Poverty programs that sprouted like mushrooms in those troubled times. Tom Wolfe, in 'Mau-mauing The Flak Catchers' remarked that the aim of the poor in all these new poverty programs spawned by the Johnson and Nixon Administrations was not to be on the program but to work for the program.
Now, forty years later, in the courtyard of the Lorraine Motel were assembled the beneficiaries of the billions of dollars so thoughtlessly ladled down the national toilet in the name of fighting poverty. The ever-nauseating Hillary showed up at the festivities, and in the middle of a speech striking in its phony sentiment and larded with the usual platitudes she promised to appoint a 'poverty czar'. That sounds like a good job, I wonder what it pays? The crowd, who had enjoyed themselves earlier by booing McLame, who showed up to apologize for voting against the King National Holiday (OK I'll admit it, I enjoyed seeing the s--t-eating grin on the old duffer's face as the crowd got in gear), didnt attack the wife of the First Black President for her many racist attacks on her black opponent (who was very prominently missing from this orgy of bad taste) much to my chagrin. I guess in the interests of brevity she didnt quote Andrew Young's remark that Bill Clinton was blacker than Barak Obama because he had slept with more black women. Of course Jesse Jackson showed up to perpetuate his lie about the Bloody Shirt (sort of a secular Shroud Of Turin). The BBC had Roger Wilkins, someone I've always liked and admired, to inject a few words of quiet good taste into this misguided 'celebration' but then canceled out any attempt at seriousness by doing a long standup while in the background a female Gospel singer with a really piercing loud voice shrieked loudly and longly almost drowning out the commentator's yelled cliches. It was like some ear-splitting ultra-modernist atonal musical guilt-sniveling.
I should have watched the traffic report, the new llama at the LA Zoo and the Doppler 7000 Weather Radar (which, of course will show no clouds closer than Seattle until next October) and listened to the ever-witty badinage between the carefully coiffed anchorpersons; a group completely balanced by age, race and national origin in keeping with the guidelines which have sprung from the legacy of Dr. King.