Sunday, December 21, 2008

MLK on Liberal "Tolerance"

I found these quotations from my bookmarked copy of the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King. It is from Letter from A Birmingham Jail, and it was about the problems of “white moderates” for the civil rights movement. If you substitute the references to “negro” and “white moderate” with “gay” and “heterosexual moderates” he articulates what many of us feel about the attitude of many moderate/liberals toward the gay community:

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have ben gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Counciler or the Ku Klus Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which his the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”: who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advised the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection....

I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth of time.... It is the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually time is neutral. It can be used either destructively or constructively. I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of good will.

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always right to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy, and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.”

Wow! Wouldn’t that make a great inaugural invocation!

1 comment:

Melanie said...

"more devoted to 'order' than to justice" - I think that statement could apply to so many things going on right now - financial crisis, drug war, unwillingness to prosecute people for war crimes...It seems like a need for order (in a hierarchy) is the driving vision behind all the ultra conservative principles. Thanks for the post.