January 15, 2007

MLK Jr.

A genuine American hero, a man on a religious mission — can you listen to his speeches and not hear the clank and rattle of the old King James Version? — but one whose religion is so often igonored or downplayed in liberal or leftist circles, especially those in UnAmerica. But religion's at the heart of almost everything he did, and informed his thoughts and actions in ways difficult for UnAmerican secularists like me to empathise with or even understand. He was a product of — not a reaction to — a very American religious tradition, a tradition almost extinct in the rest of the West, a tradition that goes hand-in-hand with (without necessarily being part of) the sort of Fundamentalisms that the rest of us tend to think of as utterly alien to political activity on behalf of freedom. Not a typical product, and not (maybe) what comes to mind when you think "American religion", but still unthinkable without that pervasive religious tradition.

I still find Malcolm X more interesting and compelling, if only because he changed his mind.

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