Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Funereal politics

At the funeral of Coretta Scott King, attended by President Bush and the First Lady (as well as former Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Carter and their wives), the Rev. Joseph Lowery, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and former President Jimmy Carter used the occasion to take very thinly veiled jabs at Bush.

According to Reuters:

Lowery, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which King helped found in 1957, gave a playful reading of a poem in eulogy of King.

"She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war / She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar," he said.

"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there / But Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here / Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."

The mourners gave a standing ovation. Bush's reaction could not be seen on the television coverage, but after Lowery finished speaking, the president shook his hand and laughed.

.....

With Washington debating the legality of Bush's domestic eavesdropping on Americans suspected of al Qaeda ties, Carter also drew applause with pointed comments on federal efforts to spy on the Kings.

"It was difficult for them personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated, and they became the targets of secret government wiretapping and other surveillance," he said.

And there's more, from Carter:

"We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi who are most devastated by Katrina to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans."

(For more on that topic, see here.)

Eric Muller sarcastically points out that Mrs. King was an intensely political woman, and that it's ridiculous to talk about the wrongness of politicizing her memorial ceremony. Well, that's one way of looking at it. Another is that today, the ideals represented by Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King are ideals that unite, rather than divide, America. In a society where political polarization is increasingly rancorous, her funeral could have been a rare moment that united. It shoudl not have been a time for division, or for scoring political points. Mrs. King herself, I think, would have understood that.



31 comments:

John Palcewski said...

I just watched the entire CSK funeral on C-Span and realized that you can't get a sense of it from a few isolated quotes or sound bites.

It was a marvelous tapestry of art, full of nuance and richness. More important it was evocative of a time when we actually had decent people in the White House and Congress. In the succession of speeches there was poetry, there was soul-stirring song, there was historical context. There was spirituality, and humaneness, and love and hope.

Contrast all that with what these pathetic Republicans did immediately afterward. They seized upon tiny fractions of the event, the ones where allusions were made to Republican failures and criminal acts and lies. It shocked them. But what was more shocking was that these Republicans came away thinking the whole thing was about them.

It wasn't.

But the Republicans were not content to just leave those few TRUTHFUL fractions stand. No, fascist Karl Rove was compelled to immediately send his whores and pimps and slime merchants to try to tear it all down.

That's all they know how to do, they know nothing else. They got into power in Washington on slime and lies and misrepresentations and smear tactics, and they used their illegitimate power to sully everything good about America, most especially by lying us into an unnecessary war. And looking the other way when all those Black folks huddled in New Orleans and begged for help.

And like a poisonous leitmotiv or a lingering putrid smell, there was George Bush, sitting behind the speakers. As usual he was ill at ease and totally out of touch. But eventually he actually brought himself to believe he belonged there, sitting among honorable people.

He was so miscast. So out of place.

greg wirth said...

I didn't watch the whole ceremony, namely the Carter comments. However, I did see Clinton once again prove he is a master at lifting up an event and its meaning. Lowry could have thrown out the WMD part and it still would have been effective but I suppose part of being POTUS is taking responsibility for your decisions and not being isolated, for that Bush deserves credit.

gengwall said...

Apparently some Democrats learned nothing from the Wellstone memorial.

thecobrasnose said...

One of the great and noble accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement was to ensure that all qualified persons in the US could vote. One of the great and noble accomplishments of the Bush Administration is to have brought the right to vote to two nations: Afghanistan and Iraq. The President--not unexpectedly--didn’t draw the parallel, but it’s a reasonable perspective and one that does honor to the Scott/King legacy.

DKNY said...

First off, the Wellstone memorial talk is hooey---the controversial event wasn't the funeral, which was quite dignified, but an event called "Fight Back: Honoring Wellstone's Legacy", an entirely appropriate tribute to an outspoke liberal.

And similarly, neither King ever made a secret of their politics---the Republicans who now lionize him as a uniter and champion of color-blindness conveniently forget the Poor People's Campaign, King's opposition to the war in Vietnam, and of course Saint Buckley's constant stream of contempt and vituperation for King and the civil rights movement.

And as for Carter's comments---if there's anyone who knows exactly why it's so dangerous to let the executive spy on anyone it wants to, it's the King family. In fact, it's the example of the FBI's spying and harrassment of King (including encouragements to suicide) that motivates much of the concern with the President's warrantless and above-the-law spying today. Perhaps that's why they don't want it talked about---much easier to pretend that the executive branch knows best when we don't have to be reminded that it usually doesn't.

Revenant said...

More important it was evocative of a time when we actually had decent people in the White House and Congress.

When was that, the late 18th century?

The Navigator said...

Cathy,
One might also argue that, if Ms. King felt that certain policies were making things worse ansd exacerbating rather than healing divisions in this country, that she would have said that those policies should be opposed vociferously, and at every opportunity, rather than just when it seemed polite to do so. I really, really, really don't think it's a fair reading of the Kings' legacy that theior highest value was in making everyone feel comfortable so that we could all get along.

I didn't see the funeral, and I don't know exactly what was said or what the context was, but speaking for myself: if my own funeral turns out to be the last time when my life's work, whatever it may turn out to be, can be advanced, in some minute way, by making someone in attendance feel embarrassed, I hope my friends and family go to town on them. Justice will always be a higher value than civility, as nice as civility is.

Synova said...

I've heard several people point out that Martin Luther King was spied on and wiretapped... and point out that it was done by Joe Kennedy.

Oh, and keep on talking Mr. Palcewski. Karl Rove is counting on you to keep it up.

Revenant said...

Regardless of whether or not King herself would have approved of turning her memorial service into a political opportunity, it is still the kind of thing that strikes most people as tacky.

My (Catholic) grandmother really didn't approve of my dad being Episcopalian, or of his brothers being gay. But it still would have been inappropriate for anyone to use her funeral as an opportunity to criticize gays and Protestants. Memorial services are supposed to be more positive than that; they should focus on the good the person did, not on the wickedness of the person's opponents.

Pooh said...

Unbelievable. Until Mrs. King's family complains about what was said at her service, what right do any of us have to do so?

You are free to disagree with what is said, or to say that you hope your own funeral is different. But to criticise on the basis of moralizing about what should or should not be said at her funeral is ludicrous.

thecobrasnose said...

Please. It was a public event--it was televised for crying out loud! That means the public has the right to remark upon what occurred.

Pooh said...

Remark yes, but this wringing of hands about the "sanctity of a funeral", I don't think so.

W.B. Reeves said...

A couple of points from here in Atlanta.

It is not the King Family, nor Jimmy Carter, nor Joseph Lowery who turned the Homegoing Ceremony into a "political event." That happened when President Bush decided to invite himself to the service.

Pretending that Bush's appearance at the event was an exercise apolitical altruism is about as naive as it gets. He chose to attend the funeral of a woman who, like her husband, was an apostle of nonviolence and an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised. He did so knowing that she opposed both the War in Iraq and his politics generally. Is it any surprise that those who knew her best might feel bound to speak for her, now that she can no longer speak for herself?

The only thing that would have been unseemly or dishonorable to the memory of Coretta Scott King would have been allowing a politician, whose entire career is a repudiation Dr. King's legacy,to exploit her death unchallenged.

Cathy Young said...

If the King family felt that Bush's presence was unwelcome at the funeral, they could have always asked him not to attend, or not to speak.

Johnny said...

Ms. Young, I had to think about this for a day or two. First though I need to point to two bloggers, one from the right, and one from the left, who make excellent points. The first? Prof Bainbridge himself. One of the few conservatives to still quote Kirk and Burke.

Here:
My take? First off, it's hardly surprising that the funeral of a political figure turns political. Second, it's hardly surprising that a Republican President is criticized by far-left speakers at the funeral of a figure closely associated with the Democratic Party. Third, Bush should have known it was coming, since avoiding situations like this presumably is why he's ducked appearing at NAACP conventions.

~and~

In sum, Bush got dissed to his face in public. BFD. He's a big boy and ought to be able to take it.

and Here:
In the first place, Bush likely didn't go to the funeral "simply ... to pay his respects." Bush undoubtedly had a political motive for attending. Second, so he got harangued? It's small cheese compared to the political purposes to which some funerals have been put...

The second is Radical Russ, who points out examples of members of the right using funerals to make political points (McCain at Goldwaters funeral, and Cheney at Thurmonds).

Lastly is the question of what Mrs. King would have wanted...clearly we don't know that, but if we look to history we may get a glimmer. She was feircly anti-war, but we have another piece of evidence: What she did when her husband was killed. The good Dr. King had been in Memphis to march with a union. So, after he was shot, but before he was buried...was she mourning in composure? Was she being dignified? Perhaps. She took her husbands place in the march. Certainly an indicator about what she thought was important.

The dust up over this, and the "cartoons" make me thinking of little more than Nat Hentoff's "Free Speech for Me--But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other".

The way I figure it, any liberals who are afraid to "offend" Fundamentalist Islam, and any conservatives who were offended by Lowery are actually supporting the same thesis.

Hypocracy is the only way to rule.

Synova said...

It's amazing.

Some people are so invested with Bush hatred that they can't see that it is absolutely appropriate for Coretta Scott King to have a state funeral that is attended by the head of state.

And yes, her family could have told Bush he wasn't welcome or asked him not to speak.

And who is *anyone* to say what people aren't allowed to have an opinion about? This is mind boggling. Or maybe it isn't. Maybe it's typical. The more I think about it... men aren't allowed to have opinions about "women's" issues. Whites aren't allowed to have an opinion about "black" issues. Staights can't talk about gays. It's all about limiting the right to speak, and mostly to silence dissent.

Using the funeral to make political digs and accusations was *tacky*. Saying I don't have the right to say so, loudly, repeatedly, isn't going to make it so.

Though, as someone mentioned (I think it was the Anchoress) Democrats can campaign in churches and Republicans can't. It's just the way it is. One set of rules for one and another set of rules for the others. The tacky dems probably just didn't know better and we should excuse them.

Synova said...

Oh, and no one is offended for Bush's sake. No one thinks he got his feelings hurt. If he had a "political" reason for attending (other than that it was appropriate for him to do so because of the office he holds and Mrs. King's importance) it was an opportunity to display class in direct contrast to what he, yes, may have well expected to happen.

He came out smelling like roses... to anyone who isn't swimming in a seething pool of hate-bush.

DKNY said...

Synova---"Democrats can campaign in churches and Republicans can't". Um... Uh... Okay, it's gotta be said: Are you high!!?!?!? There are plenty of cases on record where pastors, ministers, and priests have urged their congregation to vote Republican, or invited prominent Repubicans to speak. Personally, I'd be happy to say that if anyone mentions the word "vote", "election", or the name of a politician from the pulpit, they get their tax-exempt status yanked, but that's not too likely to happen...

William R. Barker said...

Yeah, John P... Karl Rove is a "fascist." (*SMIRK*) Way to elevate the debate.

You might want to ponder that old Beetle song, "Revolution."

"...but if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow..."

(*SMILE*)

Nah... strike that. You keep on raving, bud. You're the kind of guy the RNC should be funneling money to in order to help you get your message out! (*GRIN*)

As for W.B. Reeves... I was wondering how long it would for someone to criticize the President for attending the funeral. On behalf of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy I sincerely urge you... post on, W.B., post on!

Pooh... Navigator... tsk, tsk. I'm very disappointed in you both! Both of you sounded... reasonable. I mean, come on... if Democrats start sounding reasonable and moderate all of a sudden, you folks might stand a chance in a national election. Members of the VRWC are counting on people like you to make our case for us!

(*GRIN*)

BILL

Lori Heine said...

So the statist-extremist loonies fighting for the privilege of ruling over us all tried to turn Mrs. King's funeral into a circus. What a surprise!

When are we ever going to learn that it isn't simply one or the other of the two who are our enemies, but the both of them?

They remind me of rival barbarian tribes, warring over which one gets control of our village. We peasants can't figure out which tribe to root for. Does it really make any difference? The tribe who wins will simply burn our village down and slaughter us all.

Revenant said...

The only thing that would have been unseemly or dishonorable to the memory of Coretta Scott King would have been allowing a politician, whose entire career is a repudiation Dr. King's legacy,to exploit her death unchallenged.

That's just silly. Bill Clinton attended the funerals of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon -- was that also an attempt to exploit their deaths? Of course not. Presidents attend the funerals of major public figures; it is unseemly not to.

And as Cathy noted, if the King family didn't want him there, they could have told him to stay away. Of course, if they were going to start excluding people who waged wars and did little to help the poor, they'd have to exclude Clinton and Bush Sr. too.

Fruitbat44 said...

Lively little thread this . . .

I personally think that making political points at such an occasion is tacky. Regardless of who is the making the point about whom.

I also think it was good to see the President of the USA and three former Presidents, from across the political spectrum, all coming together to pay their respects.

Synova said...

dnky,

Yes, you're quite right. The chances of the churches where Kerry gave campaign speeches losing their tax exempt status is zero.

DKNY said...

Synova---I would happily see all the churches where Kerry spoke lose their taax-exempt status, so long as every church that urged its parishoners to vote life, or mentioned Bush's name, lost theirs. But then, I'd happily see every church lose their tax-exempt status and have to make a living like everybody else.

Revenant said...

I would happily see all the churches where Kerry spoke lose their taax-exempt status, so long as every church that urged its parishoners to vote life, or mentioned Bush's name, lost theirs

Except that urging parishioners to "vote life" is entire legal under existing tax law. Churches are just forbidden from endorsing specific parties or candidates. They are allowed to preach about issues without risking their tax-exempt status.

Anonymous said...

There's also a considerable difference in a pastor speaking out on an issue and a political candidate making a campaign speech.

Then again, few seemed to have a problem with Clinton raising money from Tibetan monks who had taken a vow of poverty.

As for the Republicans repudiating King's legacy --- the Republicans freed the slaves, gave them the vote, and forcefully integrated the schools. What, PRECISELY, have the Dems done?
-=Mike

Revenant said...

What, PRECISELY, have the Dems done?

Successfully taken the credit? :)

W.B. Reeves said...

If the King family felt that Bush's presence was unwelcome at the funeral, they could have always asked him not to attend, or not to speak.

Yes, and we would now be listening to the same partisan catterwauling about the rudeness, disrespect and
lack of class exhibited by the King family.

Cathy, I have a good deal of respect for you. Whatever differences of opinion I might have with you, I think you are a person of integrity. So it pains me to disagree with you as profoundly as I do.

How is the fact that the King family graciously accomodated the President's rather tardy notice that he wished to attend now an indication of bad faith on their part?

The Family made a place for him at the table. That did not obligate them to stifle the truth that there is a fundamental disconnect between the policies of the President and their Mother's life work. It certainly didn't require them to vet the remarks of every person who spoke for any comments offensive to the President.

The family chose to treat the President as it treated everyone else who spoke. They chose to not edit anyone's remarks. They chose to not reorganize their Mother's entire Going Home service in order to
accomodate the President's agenda. They chose to not conceal the very real chasm separating the vision of
Coretta Scott King and her late husband from the visions of the President. Exactly where were they wrong in any of this?

Since this whole debate seems to revolve around questions of courtesy, how can you suggest that it would have been more appropriate for the King family to have banned the President outright or to have gagged him?

revenant,

That's just silly. Bill Clinton attended the funerals of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon -- was that also an attempt to exploit their deaths? Of course not. Presidents attend the funerals of major public figures; it is unseemly not to.

Since it is Bill Clinton we're talking about, I'd think the answer was obvious. Of course Clinton was making personal and political hay, regardless of whatever actual sentiment he may have held.

I think your use of "unseemly" well chosen. It indicates that the President's absence would be noted and would create a bad impression. The last time I checked, image was a very big factor in politics. Particularly so for a politician whose popularity is at a low ebb and whose party is facing a difficult midterm election.

Synova,

I've heard several people point out that Martin Luther King was spied on and wiretapped... and point out that it was done by Joe Kennedy.

I believe you mean John Kennedy. Joe would refer to his Father, or, his older brother who died in WWII.
What significance this has to the issue of the Government spying on the citizenry escapes me.

Some people are so invested with Bush hatred that they can't see that it is absolutely appropriate for
Coretta Scott King to have a state funeral that is attended by the head of state.


Bush hatred? Excuse me, I didn't attend the service so I can't be certain but I haven't seen it reported anywhere that Carter or Lowery ever mentioned Bush by name. They addressed the issues of war, poverty, injustice and government surveilance, subjects on which both Mrs. King and Doctor King held well
documented opinions. That the President has the record he does on these issue is a misfortune of his own making.

It wasn't a "State funeral" either. No proclaimation of such was issued and the service was not paid for on
the taxpayer's dime. It was the public funeral of a famous and widely regarded woman, carried out by her children in accordance with what they believe to have been her wishes. I'm sure those wishes did not extend to shilling for the current occupant of the White House.

William R. Barker,

As for W.B. Reeves... I was wondering how long it would for someone to criticize the President for attending the funeral. On behalf of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy I sincerely urge you... post on, W.B.,
post on!


If by criticizing you mean refusing to ignore the role played by political calculation in the actions of the nation's chief politician, I'll just have to bear that burden.

Perhaps you and your fellow members of the "VRWC" believe in politics by immaculate conception, I don't.

nike said...

Rubber. Rubber is widly used in the outsole of the athletic shoes.
cheap puma shoes
discount puma shoes
It has the advantages of durable, skipproof, flexible, elastic, extensive, stable and proper hardness.
nike shox torch
nike tn dollar
cheap nike shox
PU is a kind of macromolecule polyurethane materials which is offten used in the midsole
cheap nike shox shoes
nike shox r4
puma mens shoes
Sometimes, it is also used in the outsole of casual shoes.
PU is durable, strong hardness, upstanding flexbility and more important, it is environmentally
cheap nike max
discount nike shox
cheap puma ferrari shoes
The disadvantage is also outstanding. Strong hydroscopic property, break apart and EVA.
nike mens shoes
ed hardy womens hoodies
ed hardy mens tees
You will never find swimsuit more excellent than in Ed Hardy!
ed hardy ugg boots
ed hardy love kills slowly boots
ed hardy love kills slowly
We provide you with the sexiest swimwear at present. Wanting to be bright on beach in this
ed hardy polo shirts
ed hardy love kills slowly shoes
ed hardy wear
Abandoning traditional concepts on sexy swimwear, Ed Hardy adds tattoo upon, which is meaning
ed hardy love kills slowly shirts
ed hardy trousers
ed hardy jackets
It seems that ed hardy mens shoes was difficult to be able to let you exist out in swimwear, the
ed hardy t shirts sale
ed hardy womens t shirts
ed hardy boots
In the trunks term, the Panerai candy-flush has mainly took the Louis Vuitton Speedy purpose
ed hardy womens clothes
ed hardy womens shirts
ed hardy clothes

aiya said...

Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010
Microsoft word
Office 2007
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office 2007
Office 2007 key
Office 2007 download
Office 2007 Professional
Outlook 2010
Microsoft outlook
Microsoft outlook 2010
Windows 7

Peter said...

nice share thanks a lot :)

download free pc games
affiliate review