Wednesday, February 08, 2006


On Tuesday Reverend Joseph Lowery, a former civil rights colleague of Martin Luther King Jr. said the following:

"She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions’ way afar. We know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there,but Coretta knew, and we know, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor!".

While on the surface this quote may appear to embody typical left-wing strategy of connecting everything to Iraq, it is particularly offensive in this case for two reasons.
First, President Bush was sitting ten feet away from the speaker. While this kind of political rhetoric may be deemed appropriate at a rally for, it is highly inappropriate when the duly-elected leader of the free world is right behind you. And just so everyone knew who it was he was talking about, Lowery nodded at the president when he said that “….weapons of misdirection right down here” bit. Whatever your views, Reverend, how about showing some respect for our nation’s highest office?
What made Lowery’s comments even more sickening was that he made them at a funeral. The minister was giving a eulogy for Coretta Scott King, and he used the opportunity to express his own political views.
I don’t care how strongly you believe in something, it is always inappropriate to use a solemn occasion, especially a funeral, as a soapbox for to advance your political agenda. The death of an American hero is no excuse to take cheap shots. Lowery is a minister, so it is especially surprising that he would not know proper funeral etiquette. Unless I’m mistaken, funerals are a big part of a minister’s job description, are they not?

The Reverend did not appear to be the only one who lacked knowledge of how to behave appropriately at a funeral. After Lowery chastised Bush, much of the audience gave the guy a two-minute standing ovation.
As if the participants of the funeral had not already shamed themselves enough, former president Jimmy Carter used his speech to cut into the president as well, abandoning the protocol that says that former presidents are not supposed to criticize current presidents, which Carter has repeatedly ignored. Carter used this opportunity to harp on the president for using warrant less wiretaps, and yet if memory serves, Carter didn’t have a lot to say when President Clinton was found to have committed perjury. Perhaps Carter just couldn’t find an appropriate place, like a high-profile funeral, to express his outrage over Clinton’s behavior.
Lowery’s comments were obviously intended to convey Coretta Scott King’s feelings on certain issues. While we can be pretty sure that Lowery’s views reflected how King felt about the Iraq war and the President, it was still a classless move for the minister to attack someone else in the building, who had come to honor the memory of Mrs. King.
What if George W. Bush had used the occasion of Ronald Reagan’s funeral to attack the Democrats for being weak on national security, or for opposing Reagan’s policies which led to the end of the Cold War?
This unfortunate exhibit of partisanship is simply the latest example of a growing trend among those who are anti-war and anti-Bush. “Bush-bashing” has become so prevalent these days, that it is difficult for a liberal to get in front of a microphone for any reason, without saying something negative about the President of the United States. A captive audience is like catnip to them. Actors, professors, Kanye West, Harry Belafonte. You can bet, that if a left leaning Democrat has the attention of a group of people, they’re going to take some shots at Bush. Don’t believe me? Take a course here at Northridge sometime.
Those who follow politics closely know very well that this is not the first time that a memorial service has gone sour because of the inability of an individual to keep their ideological views to themselves. After Senator Paul Wellstone’s tragic death in 2002, a basketball stadium was filled with people who wanted to pay their respects. Instead of a celebration of Wellstone’s life however, the event quickly turned into a Democratic pep rally, during which Republicans who had come to mourn Wellstone were booed and speakers lead the audience in chants of “We will win” referring to the upcoming Minnesota senatorial election. Many believe that this shameful exhibition led directly to the defeat of Wellstone’s replacement in the election several weeks later.
Both Coretta Scott King and her husband dedicated their lives to bringing people of different races and beliefs together. Rev. Lowery’s divisive comments were at odds with the very things that these two great individuals fought so hard for. Partisan attacks such as these only serve to alienate a large segment of the population, whose support is imperative in carrying on King’s legacy.
Regardless of your personal beliefs regarding Bush, the war or even Mrs. King, a funeral should be a time to reflect upon the positive aspects of an individual’s life. Those with conflicting viewpoints should leave them at the door and should under no circumstances use them to score political points or to get a positive reaction from a emotional crowd. Shame on you, Reverend.

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