Thursday, January 06, 2011

let freedom ring

Another "theme" I want to weave into my blog this year is something I might call great moments in history. It's completely subjective. I'm sure there are teams of historians debating what are the actual "greatest" moments in history. In thumbing my nose at them out of pure jealousy because at university I studied religion (instead of what my heart was telling me to study - history), I'm going to highlight some very cool events of the past that for some reason resonate with me.

There are many. Some I would like to have witnessed; some I did witness (I'll get to reincarnation and cosmology in the future).

I feel compelled to start in Washington, August 28, 1963 (I was a month old...). Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of 200,000 people and delivered what has been adjudged the most powerful and influential speech of the 20th Century. It has been dubbed the "i have a dream" speech but I heard a whisper that King himself said that if it should be dubbed anything it should be the "let freedom ring" speech ("i have a dream" features nine times and focuses on the man; "let freedom ring" features ten times - plus two close variations - and focuses on the issue).

Here's a link to the speech. (many Youtube versions have been deleted due to copyright, so let's see how long this one lasts)

It's 17 minutes 28 seconds long, but if you give it 17 minutes of your life, and really listen, I promise it will be worth it. I thought that at nearly eleven million views on Youtube (a whole heap of which are mine - and I have the speech on my phone and iPod) it would be doing well in terms of most views. However, that honourable distinction goes to...justin beiber. OMG. If any evidence were required to prove the inanity of so much of human interest, that's it. But I digress.

MLK's speech was a feat of "mastery and magic" that "persuasively articulated the american dream within the context of the civil rights struggle" (University of Wisconsin-Madison). For the average joe, and especially the average joe african-american, it ROCKED!

As far as speeches go there are none better, and I wonder what speeches topped the list in previous centuries - geez, isn't the Internet wonderful? I just googled it and TIME magazine has Socrates at the top of all time rhetoric, with which I may tend to agree. But TIME has King behind JFK. That's clearly wrong if only on the basis that Kennedy's plum-in-the-mouth Mass. accent was horribly annoying. Anyway, another digression.

I don't see Barack Obama on the list. In the liberal, pro-Obama no-matter-what-because-he's-black school his "oratory" has frequently been compared to King's. OMG. Are you kidding me? I think one of the all time DUD speeches was Obama's inaugural speech. I got up early to watch it, and depsite my doubts (given some of Obama's previous speeches) I had hoped his writers would rise to the challenge of addressing over a billion people and give Obama something to say worthy of the audience. What a flop.

I have previously compared Obama's speech pattern to Captain Kirk's of Starship Enterprise fame. He speaks with. Punctuated timing. Designed, no doubt. To. Create emphasis and higlight. His. Main points. But especially in that he. Fails. Miserably. Better stick to. Playing basketball and. Throwing a frisbee. For his. Dog.

Obama's inauguration speech was one of the greatest disappointments of the 20th Century. Second only to his presidency so far.

What would this administration have done with King? Oranges and lemons, really, but I do wonder where America would be now if the CIA (or the FBI) had not killed King (and the Kennedys). Would little black boys and black girls have joined hands with little white boys and white girls? Would the Alabama governor (didn't he get shot in harlem? or maryland somewhere?) now have his lips dripping with the words of political correctness and restitution?

I've met some of the viscious racists "down in Alabama". They're still there, alive and kicking, glorying in the continued subjugation of King's brothers and sisters.

The "let freedom ring" speech changed America, and therefore the world. What would it be like to have been in that crowd?

What crowd in history would you like to have been in?


JackieWrites said...

for me it would have to be JFK shooting in living memory but if we go further back it would have had to have been Joan of Arc - The Maid of Orléans burning but then there is a part of me that knows i was there...

peter said...

Interesting about being there... I'm gonna write about such things at some point