A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Irony Perfected

During the course of his amazing and inspirational life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for many things. Freedom, justice, peace, hope, love and truth are only a few of the things he stood for and, in many ways, embodied. If I had to pick just one word to sum up MLK and what he sought to teach others, I think that I would have to go with equality. I doubt too many people would really strongly disagree with that. After all, King's "I have a dream" speech contained both of the following lines: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal,'" and "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

It's that second line that brings me to the point of this post. I cannot be certain, but I do strongly believe-- based on King's speeches and writing-- that he would be appalled by the controversy brewing over who is to carve his likeness for a monument in Washington, D.C.

Seems someone went out and picked a Chinaman to be the lead sculpture. Heck, Lei Yixin is not only NOT black, he ain't even an American. And that just ain't right, ya hear? I mean, we all know that when King said he wanted his chillun judged by the content of their character not the color of their skin he really meant that he wanted them judged by the content of their character but given jobs based on the color of their skin. King is an American, dang nab it, and there ain't no way we should be letting no chianees feller do the sculpting of a true American hero who placed his race and his country above all else.

Right? Well, Gilbert Young-- a totally clueless fellow who would totally miss the tongue-in-cheek satire of the preceding paragraph-- believes precisely that. He thinks it's a "slap in the face" to have any but an African-American be lead sculptor. And, failing that, at least a good old American. For a dip into the deep end of the crazy pool, go to Young's website kingisours.com and check out his diatribe on the front page.

Just the name of the website "kingisours" pretty well sums up the irony, don't you think? Dr. King's whole life was spent trying to get others to recognize the character and abilities of people IRREGARDLESS of the color of their skin or the country of their origin. Yet Gilbert Young believes that Kins is only the black man's hero, and that only an African American should be allowed to make a tribute to King's ideals of equality. That King should be portrayed as "WE saw him". 'We' being other African Americans involved in the Civil Rights movement of the '60s.

Now, if the reason Lei was selected was strictly to get cash from the Chinese government or for some other political reason, then I think there is a legitimate gripe to his being selected. But the fact that he's Chinese and not Black should be completely irrelevant to the discussion-- that was the whole point of King's teachings.

Content of people's character, not their skin color.

Seems pretty straight forward. How are people like Gilbert not seeing the irony?

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