Thursday, January 15, 2004

Protesters Push Past Barricades at Martin Luther King's Tomb to Protest Bush Visit 

"When I heard Bush was coming here I couldn't believe it. I was outraged and disgusted, and I just think it's a photo op. It's so transparent," said Kathy Nicholas, a flight attendant from Atlanta.

Bush's visit to observe King's birthday upset some civil rights activists who said the president's policies on Iraq, affirmative action and funding for social services conflict with King's legacy. They also complained that the scheduling conflicted with their own plans to honor King.

It is a shame we have come to this. Whatever might be said of the conflict between King's legacy and Bush's policies, Bush has conferred more genuine power and influence on the blacks in his administration -- specifically Rice and Colin Powell -- than any president in history. Rice is the most influential National Security Advisor since Henry Kissinger (and therefore the second most influential National Security Advisor ever), and Powell has repeatedly bent the adminstration away from its most unilateralist impulses. There is, in fact, no evidence or even a hint of a suggestion that Bush judges anybody by anything other than the content of their character, whatever the objections to his substantive policies. So why is a visit to King's tomb such an outrage? Wouldn't staying away be worse? Is it not progress of the sort that King fought for that a president as conservative as George Bush either wants to honor Dr. King (if you believe him sincere) or needs to honor Dr. King (if you believe him cynical)? Isn't it all good?


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