Monday, January 17, 2005

pride (in the name of love)

yes, it's a reference to a fucking u2 song, so what? although i generally find them tedious, and boner insufferable, they have some good songs, and that is one of them. besides, it's hella relevant, as today is rev. dr. martin luther king jr. day. uh-huh.

somebody on my dorm floor in college had a poster with this tune's lyrics superimposed over images of king. the words are spare and vague and pretentious (duh. it's u2), but they become strangely moving when combined with the music, with all its ringing, jangling, anthemic declarations of grandeur. boner's yelping notwithstanding. i don't know anything about why an irish rock band wrote a song about the leader of the american civil rights movement. i'm sure there was a reason. maybe something about king's resolve struck them. or maybe it was his singularity -- like elvis, he is king. "one man he resist" -- king was a man, only a man, who stood up for what he believed in. and he would not be silent. and he spoke eloquently and plainly and urgently of the need to be free. to be equal. in a world where black people were still lynched for the most imaginary of offenses, he imagined a much better world for them. and somehow he changed things -- yes, he did -- without using violence. from a position of weakness, he created strength. he famously said "i have a dream" -- a dream of equality.

anyway, only one comic strip in yesterday's los angeles times addressed the subject of MLK. you might say "predictably," it was "the boondocks," one of only a few strips by african americans. but aaron mcgruder's inimitable take on the matter was not exactly predictable. you generally might not expect the comics page to be a hotbed of current-events commentary, but that might mean you aren't reading the comics page, because ... it is. these days, even a fair number of the nonpolitical strips have their headline news to fry. (how's that for a mixed metaphor?) so it was somewhat depressing that, today, the only strip in the times that dealt with MLK day was “frazz,” a cute strip about the titular janitor/songwriter and the kids he's surrounded by at the grade school where he works. (it's by jef mallett, and it's sweetly quirky and fun. frazz often wears band t-shirts, partially hidden under his coveralls, and he has a pet guinea pig named lyle, b/c it has a corkscrew of hair on its head that resembles lyle lovett's 'do. silly.) the good rev. dr.’s big day wasn’t even the subject of the “kids’ reading room” feature this morning.

but, hey, just b/c the local daily fell down on the job of indoctrinating the kiddies about the pantheon of liberal heroes doesn't mean nobody remembers king; far from it. there were rallies and all that good stuff, to keep alive and pass on the memory of what he accomplished ... and what still needs to be done. and his spirit now zips through the wires in this internet age; as dubya's second inauguration date approaches this thursday, the e-mail and web are abuzz with interesting peaceful-yet-pointed protests. sure, there are the usual petitions, like this stern statement from the not in our name gang. there are also more creative protests, like not one damn dime!. my favorite of these, however, is turn your back on bush. it is just such a profoundly simple and total gesture of rejection. i can't wait to see the pictures.

so here's to martin luther king. he didn't invent peaceful protest, but he used it well. and he had a dream, and why not? humans have imagined a lot of stuff that eventually came true. maybe someday his dream will, too.

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