How about a new holiday?

You might think that the holiday season is ending, but, in fact, we’ve got another holiday coming up in a couple of weeks — Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

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  • helenl

    I think you absolutely don’t get it, DQ! The King Holiday is a day to give to others, not to party. It’s “a day on, not a day off.” It’s not about diversity but about equality and the continuing struggle for peace and justice. No president or veteran yet has given the US what King did in this respect.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Helen,

    You are exactly correct; I don’t get it. To suggest that no President (presumably including Lincoln!) gave us what King gave us in the way of equality is to vastly overestimate King’s impact, at least in my humble opinion. If you wouldn’t mind, perhaps you can expand on your comment. What did King do that warrants such an extraordinary statement on your part? Granted, King was a heroic man and came to symbolize the fight for equality and justice (I’m not so sure about peace).

    Someone once cynically described leadership as figuring out which way the parade is going and getting to the front of it. For all of King’s contributions, the civil rights movement would have happened with or without him. Much as I disliked Thurgood Marshall’s politics, I’d say he was at least as responsible for the movement as King was, perhaps more. Same with W.E.B. Du Bois. They laid the groundwork, along with, in other contexts, Jackie Robinson and Earl Warren. King was just 35 and barely started on his life’s work when Warren persuaded a sharply divided court to unite behind Brown vs. Bd. of Education. That single contribution was as important as anything King ever did. Why not a day to celebrate any of these people? King could be the poster boy for the phrase “I reached so high because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” King was a giant himself, but I’d hardly put him above all Presidents and veterans or even above those who walked before him and laid the groundwork for his contribution, sizable as it was.

    On the other hand, you may have something in arguing for a day soberly focused on the fight for equality, peace and justice. Certainly, there is still much to be done in this regard in American and FAR more to be done in the rest of the world. Relevant to what this blog usually talks about, perhaps such a “holiday” would focus attention, for example, on the dramatic rejection of these concepts by Islam. I believe such a day would be worthwhile, so long as it emphasized both how far we have to go as a nation AND how far we have come, especially relative to the rest of the world.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment and I sincerely hope you will expand on it and help me understand your point of view.

  • jg

    DQ, your thoughts are more than worthwhile. We should make it an Americanism Day. None of us, I suspect, pays enough tribute to the mixed ethnicity of our respective backgrounds.
    Our American nature is certainly unique, whether or not today’s media elites acknowledge the historic fact.

    Bookworm has written much on the idea of equality. I believe it’s basically a Marxist stalking horse (which I’m sure helenl won’t grant). Marxism is one of the 20c.’s most racist ideas. It’s also an excuse for governmental social engineering, which has wreaked untold harm in particular for the black race. Too many black people remain today in the liberal ghetto, victims to social disarray and crime.

  • Ruth H

    I think it is an excellent idea. I am from a truly Heinz 57 backgound. I have never found any Italians in my background but most of the other Europeans nations, Spain and Mexico are in my ancestral charts, yet still I honor Colombus. That could prossibly be the day we could designate as Immigrants day, then we could call MLK’s day as the Minority Day, our all inclusive day is, of course, July 4th. A minority day would still give those with grievances a good day to complain, I think many people would not want to give up that privilege.

  • helenl

    DQ, I will try to explain briefly. (But I wrote my master’s thesis on King and plan, after publishing a book of poetry, to use the research to write a book. The thesis is, of course, copywrited, so I’m not about to post from it on Bookworm’s blog.)

    Jg suggests an “Americanism Day.” I say we have one: The Fourth of July. Independence Day is traditionally a picnic and firecrackers holiday. But what is it about, if not being an American, whether you subscribe to the melting pot or fruit basket metaphor? So add your costumes and ethnic foods and you

  • helenl

    “. . . blacks have endured since slavery times.” Stupid spellchecker!

  • Jim

    The unspoken purpose of MLK Day, generic Presidents Day, Memorial Day, and others is to have an excuse for a three day weekend. Nice as it is to have these, it puts all of them in a secondary status to the holidays that are still really, truly about something, e.g., the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, These holidays are not moved around for our convenince, but always occur at a fixed time that expresses something about them.

    To have greater meaning, MLK Day should always be on his birthday, Presidents Day should return to February 22 and be again called George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day should always be on May 31, etc,

  • helenl

    In 1994 Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the King Holiday as a national day of volunteer service. Instead of a day off from work or school, Congress asked Americans of all backgrounds and ages to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action. The King Day of Service brings together people who might not ordinarily meet, breaks down barriers that have divided us in the past, leads to better understanding and ongoing relationships, and is an opportunity to recruit new volunteers for your ongoing work.

    Participation in the King Day of Service has grown steadily over the past decade, with hundreds of thousands of Americans each year engaging in projects such as tutoring and mentoring children, painting schools and senior centers, delivering meals, building homes, and reflecting on Dr. King’s life and teachings. Many of the projects started on King Day continue to engage volunteers beyond the holiday and impact the community year-round.

    Although the scope of the event grows every year, many people still are not aware of the service component of the holiday. By encouraging the participation of as many organizations as possible, we hope to make next year’s King Day of Service the biggest and best ever.”

    see more at

  • kevin

    “It is a day for the individual to examine his/her heart and determine what kind of action he/she can take to make the US a country of equals.”


    This sounds too much like PC speak and I’m hearing, “it is a day for whites to feel guilty about what happened to previous generations of blacks.” This may not be your point but as we’ve discussed before, there is a growing segment of blacks believe that they need to step up and break the dependency on failed liberal programs. I believe that it’s time that social programs are analyzed in terms of the incentives they create, rather than the hopes that inspired them. Caring is good; pursuing ridiculous or failed policies because of that care is not. I think we agree on the first point but I

  • jg

    “That honors all 43 – or whatever it is by now – WHITE MALE presidents of the US.” (helenl)

    Helen, that’s where liberals always swerve wrong. Always. Our presidents weren’t some marxist stereotypes labelled ‘white male’–they were freely elected Americans in an American system. Your system. And your history, right and wrong.

    “Lincoln freed the slaves (in the states that had seceded) to save the union, not because he thought it was the right thing to do.” (helenl)

    I’d have to study up on this. Lincoln’s conscience is a natural treasure, however. I would doubt that he believed in slavery. Many of the Founders, generations earlier, did not. Many good Americans of his day turned their heads, to their dishonor, as we do today about many of our own sins, such as the murder of unborn children. I think you are engaging in denigrating our common past, a la liberalism.

    “He did not care if the salves (slaves) were free or not, but he did care about the United States. But done is done, and the slaves were free.” (helenl)

    Well, that’s another big liberal black hole, helen. For Lincoln cared about ALL Americans. And to care for them, he had to care for their country. He served them all as President.
    We all likewise should care for each other and for our country–that’s what makes us Americans. We honor Lincoln, and all other Americans, for that duty and sacrifice. As should you.

    Honor your country, your history, and its people.

  • helenl

    Kevin and jg, it seems you define “liberal” as anything you don’t agree with.

    That all US presidents have been been white and male is not liberal interpreataion; it is fact.

  • Marguerite

    Helen – General Lee surrendered because the South was out-fought. Couldn’t Lincoln have held the Union together and have done so without freeing the slaves? He didn’t have to sign the emancipation proclimation, did he? So how can you say that he didn’t care about freeing the slaves? I think in a progression of thought he believed that it was morally right to do so. I don’t have any problem with WHITE MEN who pledged – and often sacrificed – their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to bequeath to us a self-governing nation where a BLACK MAN can years later be honored for his ideals.

  • helenl

    Marguirie, Concerning “I don

  • jg

  • helenl

    jg. Stop writing to me in imperative sentences. I don’t have to do what you say. You may suggest but not order me to listen to you! I don’t have to “understand” things the way you THINK they are.

  • Marguerite

    #15 – I notice that you define jg’s request-to-consider as a hostile order. That interpretation never entered my mind as I read the entry.

  • kevin

    “Kevin, I am sorry you are hearing voices. I believe I already said the King Holiday is about volunteerism not government programs.”

    Actually, I was reading between the lines and it

  • helenl

    Kevin, I brought up the fact that all presidents have been white men because DQ had suggesteted that the King holiday be expanded to include other ethnicities not because I have a problem honoring white men. But so many people agrue against honoring King, although he is clearly the choice African Americans have made to represent them. Pre-1963 King is quite palatable to most white people also.

    The sentence “the King Day of Service has grown steadily over the past decade, with hundreds of thousands of Americans each year engaging in projects such as tutoring and mentoring children, painting schools and senior centers, delivering meals, building homes, and reflecting on Dr. King

  • jg

    “We must come together as Americans.

    We have.

  • kevin


    Since you exclude race, we agree–I have no problem with volunteerism as it’s already a part of my life and I don’t need some special day as an incentive to do so. However, since race has been excluded, I would have no problem with DQ’s suggestion that MLK day should be expanded to include all ethnicities. This would indeed put the holiday on an equal level with a day honoring ALL veterns and ALL Presidents.

    “Separate is not equal, according to Brown v. Topeka. We must come together as Americans.”

    Did you happen to catch that Oprah is in South Africa opening her girl’s school? Just one of those interesting things that makes me go hummmm.

  • Trimegistus

    Call me cynical, but I think the idea of a SINGLE day to celebrate ethnic heritage would be pointless. It wouldn’t belong to anyone. Right now if you’re part Irish (and who isn’t?) you can get all maudlin on St. Patrick’s Day. If you’re an Italian and haven’t totally assimilated, you celebrate St. Joseph’s Day (which comes right before St. Pat’s). The fanatical Welsh minority can get militant on St. David’s Day. Mexamericans (and Corona-addled white yuppies) can celebrate Cinco De Mayo or the feast of the Virgin of Guadelupe. Black Americans have their own traditional festival: Juneteenth, celebrating the end of slavery.

    MLK day is an ethnic holiday which has somehow been pasted into the Federal calendar — as if buying green milkshakes for St. Patrick’s Day was enforced by the FDA.

    Moreover, MLK day is in January, while February has been designated Black History Month (I know of no other group which has a mandated month in the school curriculum). The result is a 6-week Festival Of White Guilt.

    Oh, and a note to HelenL: When you’re dumping on the Dead White Males, spare a moment’s thought for the ones who died fighting for the freedom of black men. You can impart whatever Machiavellian motives you wish to Lincoln, but tens of thousands of nameless men volunteered to leave their homes and jobs, spent months living in harsh conditions, and died in unspeakable agony because they believed that all men should be free.

  • kevin


    “MLK day is an ethnic holiday which has somehow been pasted into the Federal calendar

  • helenl

    People who don’t “get it” don’t want to “get it.” They think the 60s did the trick. They are wrong.

    People who “get it” don’t talk about “white guilt” for a very good reason: We don’t have any such guilt because we are trying to rid the world of “racism, povwerty and war” just as the prophet King told us we must. The number of people who “get it” are slowly growing.

    People who don’t “get it” call us names: naive, liberal, socialist. They accuse us of wanting to spend “other people’s money,” but seldom do the stand for anything other than the same old same old prejudice we who “get it” call racism.

  • Marguerite

    So you in the inner-circle who ‘get it’ get an all-free card to use terms like racism to describe people who disagree with you because you have special knowledge about how to make the world a better place. You get to use the conversation-stopper, ‘racism’ to those in the ‘don’t get it’ group. I get it. Gnosticism is alive and well and it doesn’t have to refer to religion, Helen

  • Kurt

    Well said, helenl. And since there are apparently no pre-requisites (other than self-assertion) to belong to the crowd who “get’s it”, I, too, will declare myself among them. I mean, among us. Yeah, that’s it.

    [moments later]

    Wow. My assertion has improved my view dramatically. I am suddenly lifted above the common man. Not only am I now part of the solution (as opposed to being part of the problem only moments ago), but I am now free to define my contribution to the cause in any way I see fit. As defined by helenl, “People who chose to give back may do so however they wish”. Any anyone who dares pass judgement on my contribution will will be defined my me as racist. And that, by the way, isn’t the “same old prejudice”. It’s new and improved. I guess.

    The only thing I need to work on is the slight curl of my lip whenever someone mentions past presidents, followed by a derisive “You mean past WHITE MALE presidents”, followed by the completely innocent sounding “well, it’s a fact rebuttal to the inevitable right-wing brow-beating I’ll receive. The trick is to keep from making it all look utterly predictable. Very difficult…that.

    And I’ve a framed certificate absolving me of white guilt, signed by Ken Hamblin (a black man). So that hasn’t been an issue with me for some time now.

    As far as the original question is concerned…I see no point in having a special day for Ethnic Heritage. I’m more Scottish than your average African-American is African and know little about Scotland other than what I saw on Braveheart.

    What I can (and do) give thanks for, as frequently as comes to mind, is that I’m an American. That the Poles, English, German, Scots, Russians, Latinos, and, yes, Africans (among just about everyone else) who came to this country (either voluntarily or not) made it such a great damn place. No, it’s not perfect. Yes, we can improve. I can say the same thing about me, my wife, my neighbors, my local school board, the federal government, the black community, the white community, the western hemisphere, etc., ad nausea.

    Yes, it kicks butt to be a white American citizen. And here, in the early 21st century, it is also preferrable for ANYONE (capitalized because I’m asserting its truth) to an American…or at the very least part of western civilization. There is no country and or civilization on Earth (nor has there ever been) that has given so much to so many.

    I understand that only through a certain level of dissatisfaction (at any level) has there ever been any improvement in anything…but it gets tiring listening to the eternally dissatisfied.

    And, despite what others may THINK, the number of people who are tiring of it are slowly growing.

    Now…back to my comfortable existance.

  • helenl

    That’s the probelem, Kurt: “comfortable existence.” We live a “comfortable existence” while other do without. If we dare to leave our comfort zones, we learn things that can be learned no other way.

  • Marguerite

    I think I’m going to throw up, definitely out of my comfort zone.

  • BigAL

    Non-Violent Resistance. After reading about Mahatma Gandhi and his teachings, he changed his mind. King was struck by the concept of satyagraha, which means truth-force or love-force. He realized that “the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.

  • helenl

    BigAL = One who “gets it.”

  • Kurt

    But to what end? People step out of their confort zones all the time. I sure as hell did when I got married…to say nothing of our decision to bring little ones into the world.

    That we learn something from it that is unique to the experience goes without saying.

    I could climb the north face of Mt. Hood in the dead of winter no doubt learn lots of new things about myself. My family might very well subsequently step out of their comfort zone of having daddy come in the door at 5:30 every day. Yeah…they might learn something. Not that they’d want to.

    I am not apologetic of living comfortably. It is pure luck that I was born to a white, happily married couple in the late 20th century in the United States. I tried mightily to overcome that advantage in my teenage years…but survived none-the-less. I ackwnoledge the luck…and am now making the best of it. And trying to pass it along to my kids.

    The human world is inherantly unfair. As is the non-human animal world. It has ALWAYS been thus. It sure as hell isn’t fair to the mouse in the field by my house when the hawk catches it. Consider…much of the animal world consists of being eaten alive. Ech. That humans have the singular capacity (as far as we know) to recognize the unfairness does not necessarily gift us with the ability to solve it.

    The problem with trying to “rid the world of racism, poverty, and war” is that it is an all or nothing proposition. And derisively “tut-tuting” those who follow a different path seems hardly a productive way of bringing along those who you have the most in common with (assuming most here are a product of western civilization). I mean…if you can’t succeed here (say…with Bookworm’s readers) and resort to name calling…what in the world makes you think you’ll be even partially successful elsewhere? You can’t just convert one or two…you have to convert everyone.

    See those men crying by Saddam’s grave? I’m stereotyping…but I’m probably a lot easier to convert to your way of seeing things than they are…as are most here. I understand the desire to ‘start small’, but those are the kinds of men you have to bring to the table. I’m strong…but compared to some I’m a pushover.

  • helenl

    What you are missing, Kurt, is that to be truly inclusive means to include even the ones who don’t believe in being inclusive – the one who don’t “get it” and don’t want to. The purpose of non-violent confrontation is to make everyone one. (No more “we” versus “they.”) This is possible by breaking down categories, not by labeling people or calling them names. To say all white people are racists or recovering racists means that we live in a system that is flawed by racist thought. It is NOT a label that I am assigning those who don’t “get it” but a condition into which we were born without choice. The idea that we can ignore race is valid. But we aren’t there when balcks earn .75 for every dollar white men make. They don’t give race doscounts at the store. Thus, we ALL need enough (not I DID NOT SAY the same amount of) money. Equality doesn’t mean equality of opportunity; it means we ALL WILL HAVE the basics of life no matter how much talent or ambiton or luck we have. Everybody needs food, shelter and clothing. You and I have all of these in our comfort zones, but we are not better people if we cannot learn to share the earth’s resources: We are selfish, uncaring (racist) babies.

  • judyrose

    “Equality doesn’t mean equality of opportunity; it means we ALL WILL HAVE the basics of life no matter how much talent or ambition or luck we have.” (Helenl)

    Helen, where do you think these “basics of life” come from? In case you never thought about it, they come from other people’s creativity, productivity, risk, investment, and labor. What you are saying can easily be summed up as follows:
    “I need stuff, so please, Mr. Government Guy, go steal it from him and give it to me.”

    If you have thought about it, and you understand, then you are advocating thuggery, albeit government-sanctioned thuggery.

    NEED is not a valid claim on anyone else’s labor or property.

  • helenl

    Yes, Judy “they come from other people

  • judyrose

    Helen, It’s not sharing when it’s taken by force. I’m all for voluntary sharing, but that’s not what you’re talking about.

  • Kurt

    You are still not setting any concrete criteria, helenl. “Food, shelter, and clothing” seems basic…but compared to what? Is everyone in my part the country (North Florida) supposed to reduce their food/shelter/clothing needs to, say, the Seminole Indians, who inhabited the area confortably for hundreds of years? I have enough clothes to wear something different every day for three weeks (except maybe pants). Clearly more than I need. My house has A/C. People survived quite well without it. If those accoutrements make me a selfish, uncaring baby in your eyes, then fine. Now what?

    You have defined a problem that makes so many people guilty (including those earning 75 cents on the dollar) that it is really pointless to…even…discuss it. Because even at 75 cents on the dollar, black workers are far better off than their equivalent in the Sudan. If, at 75 cents, they can still afford cable TV, a cell phone, and an occasional trip to Disney then they are certainly enjoying a wealth far superior than is generally available most other places.

    And there is currently agitation to add health care to your list of necessities. As perhaps judyrose alludes to…once it begines there is practically no end to what becomes justified in the quest to satisfy ‘needs’.

  • jg

    “To say all white people are racists or recovering racists means that we live in a system that is flawed by racist thought.”

    Simply a lie. And hypocritical.

    There really is no such truth as “white,” except for American Marxists.
    Just too many races from too many places, all intermarried, for that term to be definitive in America. Are Portuguese white? Albanians? Latvians? Italians? It does work for Marxism.

    Marxism (your real name Communism) has exploited racial/ethnic hatred for decades. There are few places in the world which have not suffered. Poor Africa, to Northern Ireland, to the Red Brigade, to the Shining Path guerrillas, to the GAng of Four.
    A death trail for Marxism which stretches several times around the globe.

    Few places were as despicably racist as that of Marxism’s heaven, the Soviet Union. Armies and hordes of secret police kept all the different ethnicities from bloody warfare. I have always felt the racist nightmare called Nazism to be a secret twin of Communism.

    So it follows that you would preach racism in a country which has overcome such from its beginning. America alone has tried (sometimes failed) to see each person for his own worth. Which is the polar opposite of life in the secular hells of Marxism.

    Most Americans have, do, and will abhor Marxism. Or today’s liberalism. Your best chance is to try Hugo Chavez and his racial paradise, helen. He’ll like your ideas.

  • helenl

    What concrete criteria? We are talking about seeing the world through other eyes on the Martin Luther King Holiday. We are talking about volunteerism. I’m not talking about stealing your clothes. Suddenly govenmental social programs are your major malfunction, when I was talking about working at homeless shelter for 2 hours to get a feel for what it’s like to be in one. Learn what its’ like then decide what to do. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that King Day is sorely needed. And I didn’t mention the government, except for the fact (oh, my God, a fact!!!) that the King Holiday is a federal one. I’m not trying to tell you folks how to live. I barely know how myself.

  • jj

    I am always amused by that phrase “give back.” I have no idea what it means. Give what back? To whom? Did somebody give me something when I wasn’t looking, there? Not that I recall. I have some stuff, but I pretty much worked for all of it, and did that quaint thing referred to as “earning” it.

    Always loved Jim Bouton’s answer in an interview in 1970:

    Interviewer: “Well, baseball gave you a lot…”
    Bouton: “Baseball never GAVE me – or anyone else – a damn thing. I EARNED it.”

    Haven’t yet seen any substance behind that statistic of 75% of the pay… don’t believe it, either. If true, I’d suggest DQ’s reasons have more input into the “why” than do those advanced by those who “get it.”

    Everybody “gets it” Helen, it’s not that tricky. But it’s entirely possible to “get it” and come up with different conclusions than you.

    Uncertain about MLK. Think he was probably a good guy. Good enough to equate him with most of the presidents we honor, if for no other reason than that they were President? No.

    I lived in New York in 1965, during the Gilligan incident. Which was as follows. A white NY cop – named Gilligan (years before the show, poor bastard) – had come upon the commission of a crime, interrupted same, and had shot a black man in the process. The issue immediately went before a grand jury, which called a number of witnesses, (there were witnesses), and the grand jury decided the shooting was justified. This was a New York County grand jury, not a jury of wool-hats, crackers, and ex-Klansmen from Alabama. They found: No true bill.

    Gilligan was also a 19 times decorated cop. Not a hot-headed kid, not a trigger-happy bozo, not much bad to say about him.

    But – NY City went into a period of obvious tension over the matter, and the city struggled to keep the lid on – the mayor walked the streets at night, everybody was working hard to keep it calm because things were becoming a little tinderboxy. (New word, Judy.)

    MLK flies into New York. Now, MLK was an educated man who ordinarily spoke in paragraphs, not sentences. Not sound bites. He generally said what he meant, and he said it with precision and eloquence.

    So the plane pulls up to the stairs, and he is met by a swarm of reporters and cameras, and he announces dramatically: “murder has been done.” This is post the grand jury, and at a time when all the city needed was a spark.

    MLK was 1,200 miles away at the time of the shooting – and he wouldn’t have known. But he said it. He had five hours on an airplane to think about what he was going to say – and that’s what he said. He knew – everybody knew – that the city was a tinderbox, and all it needed was a spark – and that’s what he said.

    If that is what is meant by “non-violence,” what then is meant by “rabble-rousing?”

    New York City survived unburnt – absolutely no thanks to King. Had the riots happened, the heaviest toll would have landed, as it always did, squarely atop the community for which he saw himself as speaking. And it would have been, in this case, squarely at his instigation.

    Shortly thereafter he received the Nobel Peace Prize. He announced that the money would be spent for positive purposes, and I had no doubt of that. But I thought, based on his remarks in re the Gilligan incident, the award had been somewhat premature.

  • Kurt

    Well, we were talking about MLK…but we were also talking about the Gestapo, Lincoln, Lee, Parks, and food/clothing/shelter (to name a few) No thread past 5 comments stays on topic.

    You (helen) introduced food/shelter/clothing into the mix. So I responded to that with an analogy (perhaps flawed) trying to find where the line is between “enough” and “equal”, another criteria you specifically introduced. In this vein (admittedly not the original MLK starter) I was trying to find out where you felt that “enough is enough”. I understand that no one is talking about stealing my clothes…but my point is that…I have more than enough. I have over 400 sf of shelter devoted to my automobiles. Horrors! So…what to do? Should I be taxed more if I refuse to share? And THAT is where the feds come into it.

    Because I know, per SOP, that if enough people can’t be convinced to feed/clothe/shelter the needy out of their own generosity, the next step will be to convince the police powers of the state to take it from me.

    And please…you know very well how to live. Anyone who has free time enough to publish a blog, comment, educate themselves to a Masters degree, and can look foreward to publishing a number of books has got the food/shelter/clothing thing down pat. Give yourself more credit than that. We all have more answers than we realize…we just lack the conviction to put them into action.

    I have no quarrel with MLK day, nor with King himself. Being born in the late 60’s, however, limits my first hand knowledge of the era. I thought his Letter from a Burmingham Jail was magnificent (especially his refusal to allow whites to define, any longer, the path blacks should take towards their rightful place in the U.S.)…though my knowledge of his writings isn’t much past what was required in school.

    And…what was the point of oh, my God, a fact!!!? I’ll put it down to this form of communication being a particularly sorry one…as people constantly read into things that which are not intended…and not take it as some sarcastic dig (which was my first reaction).

  • helenl

    Kurt, it was a dig. I got blasted when I said all of our presidents were white men is a fact not a philosophy. Facts are facts whether you like my interpretation of them or not.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Helen,

    If you re-read your comment #5 above, perhaps you will see why you got “blasted.” I had said I thought it odd that we honor one man, King, with the same honor we give to all the Presidents combined. You replied:

    “So the presidents. We have Presidents Day. That honors all 43 – or whatever it is by now – WHITE MALE presidents of the US.”

    It is as if you were saying that the individual accomplishments of the individual human being who became President of the United States didn’t matter. All that mattered was that they were all WHITE MALES and therefore, no matter what they did as individuals, they were only entitled to one day’s worth of honor, the same honor that King gets all by himself. This is the worst kind of quota system — one day for all WHITE MALE Presidents, no matter what they do (because they are all, after all, all white males), and one day for King all by himself because, as you later point out, blacks have chosen him as their symbol and (apparently, I’m guessing here based on your comments) you think each race is entitled to just one day and no more. And you were the one who told me that MLK Day wasn’t about diversity.

    When challenged you responded, in effect, well, gee, it’s a fact. Yes, it is a fact that all of the Presidents were white males. But you were the one who chose to use that fact, in caps no less, to diminish their individual merit and justify giving them only one day, the same as the individual King. The blasters weren’t responding to the fact, they were responding to your use of the fact, and the answer that the fact is true doesn’t answer the criticism or justify the use you made of it.

    I’ve enjoyed and valued your comments, and you have ably defended your position to a mostly hostile audience. I respect that. But I am surprised that you apparently didn’t see how inflammatory such a comment, especially shouted in all caps, would be. Hope this comment helps, and doesn’t just muddle things further (as I’ve been known to do). Take care, and I hope you will keep making it interesting.

  • helenl

    Thanks, DQ. You know, I’ve actaully been known to say (that is, write)the exact opposite of what I really meant, and the world didn’t come to an end. :-)

  • kevin


    “I was talking about working at homeless shelter for 2 hours to get a feel for what it

  • dagon


    late to the party but here’s my brief 2 cents.

    helen is holding it down most admirably. bigal, thanks for the historical relevance on the efficacy of non-violent revolt.

    judyrose – kurt – marguerite – kevin (to a lesser degree)…..americans HAVE NOT come together!

    judyrose, you seem to believe that MLK day is a slap in your face, a glorication of a system of extortion directed your way when in truth the exact opposite is the case.

    king was no saint but what he was is perhaps the most singularly effective AMERICAN leader that this country has ever had. his message was to all of us, not just the black minority and even the most well-meaning attempt to marginalize a national day of recognition of his life and works belies a deep disrespect; not only of dr. king but of what America is supposed to represent.

    there’s always someone trying to take advantage judyrose; that’s people. but to dismiss the generational hardships that many blacks still endure based on some extortion either perceived or actualized makes me question your need for a scapegoat or a strawman. i don’t think you’re to blame for anything and i certainly don’t think it’s your responsibility to bail out my extended community but to actively fight against the history and the reality of where we are and where we came from is neither empathetic or just or American.

    this feb., i suggest watching an excellent documentary on america’s civil rights years on ‘american experience’. it’ll be on your local PBS station. it might open your eyes.

    in it, there is a segment with an anonymous white youth who when asked why he would risk his life for voter registration in the heart of damnable mississippi, he doesn’t miss a beat and responds, “My freedom is very much entangled with the freedom of every other man. So, I’m fighting for my own freedom here.”

    on MLK day, that is the sentiment that i plan on honoring. how about you?


  • judyrose

    Dagon, perhaps you read too much into what I said. I just picked up one sentence in Helen’s comment because it jumped out at me. Helen said, “Equality doesn

  • dagon


    as to your assertion that “the basics of life have to be provided by someone. As I said, need is not a valid claim on anyone else

  • Kurt

    I agree that we have not come together. And I agree that we have far to go. And I agree that we should not quit trying to get there.

    And…as an intellectual exercise (as writing about it certainly is)it is without-a-doubt worthwhile to discuss the goal…the ‘end’ of the effort.

    Where most problems come up (as I see it)is that, in practical terms (boots on the ground), it’s a lot like asking someone how hard one should pray to relieve their cancer. Well, pray harder. In other words…there is no foreseeable end to the effort. And, most importantly, everyone could always be doing more. Ending ‘racism’ (as an example)is not like building a bridge…where you get to cut the ribbon and get on to other things.

    I ask Helen, for instance, to give concrete examples of criteria because I’m looking at the issue from a bridge building perspective. I want to know what to do. But in reality it’s not a fair question. The only answer is “more”. Helen answers “volunteer” or whatever…to which I shout back “how, exactly, does that help?”. There’s no answer to that. It helps her ‘understand’, but to a lot of people busy with the daily effort of life (not tangled up, I might cynically add, in online ‘gottcha’ matches…which certainly implies much personal free time), that answer is not good enough.

    The plucks at our conscience from those who have taken on the suffering in the world gets tiring after awhile. I have a wife and two children and we both work our ass off (from a 21st century American perspective…which is actually pretty cushy) to keep our level of existence where it is. Every now and then we pluck back because, damnit, I’m just a cog in the wheel like everyone else and I’ve got my own concerns. Our local school board has a 35 year history (at least) of sucking, our local and city governments are nickle and diming everyone in order to pay for whatever feel-good hand out sounded good during the election. It goes on and on.

    So…I’m sorry I acted with hostility towards what you wrote Helen. I’m struggling to keep afloat without grinding my teeth into stumps and kicking the dogs. I am well aware that I am one lucky son-of-a-bitch, both historically and geographically. I will live longer and more comfortably with better healthcare and whatever else is considered ‘good’…than Kings did 300 years ago. Or a man with 10x my political/social power who happens to live in Somalia. That demonstratas, to me, one hell of a lot of progress. I (we) are the exceptions to human history…not the poverty stricken billions that surround us.

    Sometimes I just get a little too wrapped up in that.

  • jg

    Kurt, I appreciate your comments. Your offer a perspective much needed. (47)

  • dagon

    an exerpt from the excellent multi-part documentary ‘eyes on the prize: america’s civil right’s years’. it’ll probably be aired in it’s entirety this feb., so watch out for it if you’re at all interested. it’s a pretty monumental achievement as it includes footbage which has long since passed from most archives.


  • dagon

    as promised, pbs will be airing an exerpt from “eyes on the prize” to commemorate MLK day this monday, Jan. 15.

    This is required viewing people so set your vcr’s and check your local PBS station: