Monday, January 21, 2008

(Mis)using Dr. King's words

My sophomore year of college, a (white) fellow I knew came running down my hallway after finishing an exam yelling "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty I am free at last!"

A dear (black) friend came tearing out of her room and pointed a finger at him declaring "Boy, don't you be usin' the good Doctor's words like that!" This caused the fellow to yelp, turn on his heels and run.

While the above could be funny (especially if you saw my girlfriend's grin as she watched the fellow run), the following isn't:

"Several years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King gave a magnificent speech in which he spoke of having a dream. Ladies and gentlemen, I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day, as President of the United States, I will be able to put a 'Going out of Business' sign on the Internal Revenue Service."
- Mike Huckabee, Fair Tax Rally, Columbia, SC, May 15, 2007

There's even a video (the above quote is around 2:20 in the clip).

He's kidding right? He is absolutely, positively kidding, right? To use the Doctor's words, to refer to his historic speech about race, in describing tax policy?

The 1963 speech by Dr. King to which Huckabee referred to (which was several decades ago, not years) cited an old spiritual:

Free at last, free at last
I thank God I'm free at last

Free at last, free at last
I thank God I'm free at last

Way down yonder in the graveyard walk
I thank God I'm free at last

Me and my Jesus going to meet and talk
I thank God I'm free at last

I found a version of the song in this video montage. Perhaps Mr. Huckabee should take a look.

And finally, a excerpt from 1963's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" which was Dr. King's response to a statement by clergy complaining of his tactics during the fight for racial equality.

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "Wait"....but when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"...then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.
Mr. Huckabee, how could you in your campaign for president, equate tax policy to racial justice? Or perhaps you are one of those people Dr. King wrote about. Someone who "never felt the stinging dart of segregation".


Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

And who else is talking about music?

Jenn in Holland
Luisa Perkins
Jen in Michigan
Wholly Burble
Flower Child


Life As I Know It said...

Huckabee scares me in sooo many ways.

Great post!

Mariposa said...

Great post! Happy Music Monday!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Wonderful post, SMID! I'm also talking about music today, but in a much more frivolous way.

Luisa Perkins said...

My music post is also a bit of whimsy. Nice job!

Heather said...

I think people use quotes like that to try to make themselves sound smart. But it usually backfires, as your post illustrates so well.

Flower Child said...

I'll be talking - but not yet but I'm definitely in

excellent musical connection there. good job. and timely too.

Jan said...

I absolutely agree with you. It sure won't get him any more votes... I hope. Great music. (((HUGS)))

Jan said...

Forgot to tell you.... I'm doing Music Monday too.

Wholly Burble said...

Oh, how beautifully you gave tribute to Dr. King on his day of tribute--just splendid. His words held great meaning for so many. I'm sure there are many who have no greatness in them, but try to find a way to "tie in" to someone who truly has greatness. Of course, that would be that person's Script Writers who do their darndest to grab "catch phrases" etc.--VERY poor choices!

I'm playing today too. Actually, I hadn't planned on taking up a Dr. King "equality" theme, but the meaning of the song I chose actually does have to do with "segregation"--people who are "different" and unable to find a way to join in with others--so the singer asks if anyone will join in with His song since they don't seem to let him join in with theirs.

Goofball said...

wow, thank you for posting some more things on Dr King that I didn't know yet. That letter really teaches me some more insight about a battle I know too little about.

I didn't know that Mike Huckabee used those words at all. It gives me the creeps. It totally explains why I am so afraid that the republicans would/could gain presidential power once more.

Anonymous said...

SMID, again you have a brilliant post here. Huckabee scares the hell out of me. I hadn't read about this latest F-up yet, but it's not surprising.

My MM post is up. It is about the American dream.

chelle said...

Until I lived in the US I did not even begin to comprehend the history of Dr King. Not that I could proclaim I do now, but I am much more aware. It is sad that someone would use such a powerful moment in history for their own gain.

Yummy said...

Hi, currently reading your posts...:-) This music Monday sounds interesting. Got this from Mariposa. I want to join... :-)

Tyler said...

Huckabee doesn't scare me at all. Amongst the Repuglicans, his views on economic justice are far more liberal than ANY of his competition, including Ron Paul. That statement (and others of his) simply indicates a poor understanding of the nature of the law-enforcement (executive) branch of our government.

Now, "911" Giuliani and "double-Guantanamo" Romney? THEY scare me. Those two candidates represent a far, far more evil force in our government than Mike Huckabee will ever represent: The use of fear politics to promote the extension of current administration's law enforcement policies.

Jenn in Holland said...

Wow. What an amazing... what is it the Brits say? C*CK UP!
That man is a piece of work and nothing illustrates this point better than him trying to make a (ridiculous) point riding on the words of great leadership and inspiration.
No wonder you're fuming and feeling some serious (very well founded) indignation.
The post was brilliant.
The sentiment is fabulous.
Huckabee is an a**.

Fourier Analyst said...

While I truly believe the IRS tax code needs serious reforming, he won't be getting my vote for a number of reasons, and this just adds one more.

Thanks for including Dr. King's text. So many people of our generation are familiar with a few famous lines but have never read the full texts. The sadder thing is that there are also a couple of younger generations who have not even heard the famous quotes and are not at all familiar with Dr. King and the things his generation faced. It is amazing and so tragic to see how civil liberties that cost so many lives are being ignored. With all I have to go through as an absentee voter, I get really pissed at my family in the states who cannot even be bothered to vote. But then, that is another soap box...

soccer mom in denial said...

What great exchanges! My one concern though, Tyler (aka UUBantu), is that Huckabee is a candidate of choice for super conservatives who still seem to have power over the Republicans.

Brillig said...


(It does leave me begging to ask, though, what exactly do you think of the democratic candidates? I know you have a favorite. Come on... tell me... you know you want to... :-D)

Brilliant and thoughtful post, dear. I'm going to forward it to my husband, as this is right up his alley. Again, the two of you are so insanely similar!!

Alex Elliot said...

Huckabee scares me too. I told you that he's running in the Boston Marathon right?