Monday, January 18, 2010

Of moment

A figure popularly protruded no doubt because his rhetorically agreeable frame of reference (Socrates, Christ, Lincoln) easily overshadows the subversive nature of his utterance (as well that of the populace itself); nevertheless, his diligent organizing & reminding never mistook the where & how of his context, of the moment ". Time has him relegated to a day of remembrance, to a function of social complacency, therefore dis-armed or -engaging. One can upon a touching photograph & be comfortably moved, then continue disjoined from an injustice "somewhere" else, remote as 1963 Birmingham. And so, compelled by whatever to be reminded of a contextually distant, momently determined struggle, I quote from Dr. King's polemic without intentional conflation of time or place, & yet admittedly with a classic whitey appeal to authority, because in a genuine way I mean to not overlook nationally sanctioned holidays any less or more than the minute intricacies of every other type of human utterance. Also, because I can cite Amiri Baraka's still affronting contributions to civil protest any other day of the year.

"I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more convenient season.' Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."-Letter From Birmingham Jail

"It's all right to talk about 'long white robes over yonder,' in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It's all right to talk about 'streets flowing with milk and honey,' but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preachers must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do." -"I've Been to the Mountaintop"

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