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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Anonymous said...

Actually it seems that MLK jr though funerals offered a perfect time to address important issues. here's the text of his speech from a funeral for 3 of the 4 children killed when an arsonist tourched a church.

"This afternoon we gather in the quiet of this sanctuary to pay our last tribute of respect to these beautiful children of God....

They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death.

They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows.
They have something to say to every politician [Audience:] (Yeah) who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism.
They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats (Yeah) and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. (Speak)

They have something to say to every Negro (Yeah) who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice.

They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution.

They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream [...]"

And there you have it. Martin Luther King using the funeral of small children to criticize the existing members of Congress and the federal government overall.

Anonymous said...

King did evoke politics into his funeral speeches, but obviously the funeral itself came as a result of the very racism and bigotry that King had dedicated his life to fighting.
Lowery and Carter's attacks were completely unrelated to the struggle for civl rights and social justice which the kings faught for.
Bush could have made a speech attacking the Democrats for wiretapping King in the 60's (which they did) and then made a comparrison to his wiretaps, which are being used to protect Americans, from people who wish to deprive us of our freedoms. Would that have been an acceptable way of including a political agenda into a eulogy? Where do we draw the line?

Anonymous said...

Oh, please, relax your faux indignation.

What, you think protest should be handled with 'manners' and 'etiquette'?

Those things don't even play into the equation, alright? He didn't smear feces on the President, he indicted him verbally by speaking his mind freely ... regardless of whether anyone agrees with his point of view or not, he has the right to express it. That's why America is America.

Anonymous said...

Amazing concept that anything short of feces on the face is what now passes as acceptable behaviour.

Hatred for Bush is not a good enough reason to become a classless orator.

At an occasion such as this, manners and etiquette are expected in civilized society. Being civilized is why America is America. Protests are not only acceptable, they are valued. But, this was not the time or the place and most people should recognize the difference.

Anonymous said...

Speaking about differences IS civilized ... moron.

See, even calling you moron is civilized ... because I'm not tracking you down and finding some way to destroy you ... which would be completely uncivilized.

Being civilized doesn't mean nodding your head and smiling, it means discussing differences in opinion ... and speaking out against current policies does not constitute 'Hatred for Bush.'

Do you have any original thoughts, I heard this exact same nonsense on CNN from a pundit-produced soundbyte.

Every place and every time is the place and time to express differences ... it was a ceremony to honor someone who helped fight for the right to be noticed; sounds like the perfect place and time to speak one's mind.

You're a myopic regurgitator of media rhetoric, I hope it's warm inside your flock.

See? That was civilized, too.

Anonymous said...

Keep staying focused on things like 'etiquette' and being 'civilized' ...

Just another way you're being kept ignorant by diverting your focus into things that are meaningless constructs, thus keeping you from actually thinking about the issues at hand and what is being said.

Attacking manners on a political level ... HA! Way to expose yourself as having a priority-deficit disorder. You gotta think a little bit ...

This is too easy ... I agree with most of the posters here, by the way ... I find it interesting that there's only one voice of affirmation on here.

Falling Panda said...

First off, I'm glad that more people have been commenting on this post. However,I believe the defense of the action's of Lowery and Carter are coming from a ideological perspective rather than one that is truly espoused by it's defenders. I have a hard time believing that many on the left would not be outraged if Pat Robertson or Anne Coulter attacked Bill Clinton at a high profile funeral.
The political tone in this country has degraded immensly over the last few years and it is almost uniformily the fault of the left. Don't believe me? Go compare the posts on some of todays popular left wing blogs with potings on their right-wing counterparts. Lowery's comments are a perfect example of this liberal disease that seems to have taken hold of the base ever since Bush won Florida in 2000. Say whatever you want, whenever you want. Republicans simply have not behaved in this manner, and winning elections is one of their rewards for acting in a civilized way in terms of political discourse.(For more on this see my previous two posts on Alito and Dean.)
Another thing I have noticed from those associated with this kind of rhetoric and the left in general is this concept that whenever a conservative or supporter of the president says something it's automatically deemed as a "regurgitation" of something they heard on the news or of a right-wing talking point. This is little more than an unsubstantiated cop-out designed to avoid the poster from having to respond directly to the criticism of the policy that he or she supports.
There are very few thoughts that an individual has regarding politics of current events that is not shared by someone else out there. Especially with the massive number of talking heads and political pundits on our 5 major cable news networks the countless blogs and web-sites that we have acess too these days, so unless one quotes a media personality vebatim and you can prove it. It is intellectually dishonest to accuse anyone of blindly spouting information simply because they heard it on the news. It is a cheap easy argument and one that I personally refuse to use in any political debate regardless of my opponants views.
Someone also mentioned that I have not responded to a post on the Alito piece. I apologize for this and will do so soon. Thank you for reminding me. I have been very dissapointed in my inability to get more hits on this site, but I understand that if I don't respond to postings, then I have no one other than myself to blame.

Anonymous said...

I guess the New Collegiate Dictionary is different from mine.

The one I use suggests that civilized is:
1)To raise from barbarism to an enlightened stage of development; bring out of a primitive or savage state.
2)To educate in matters of culture and refinement; make more polished or sophisticated.
- or -
1)Having a highly developed society and culture.
2)Showing evidence of moral and intellectual advancement; humane, ethical, and reasonable: "terrorist acts that shocked the civilized world".
3) Marked by refinement in taste and manners; cultured; polished.

But, if those definitions are no longer acceptable, I should just say thanks for "not tracking me down and having me destroyed" and for only calling me a "moron".