Monday, January 17, 2005

As we Americans celebrate today the 20th Martin Luther King Jr. holiday nationally and prepare (for those having iron stomachs) to listen to the President himself praise King at the Kennedy Center, we must remember King for the man he was rather than simply the icon he has become.

To be more specific, we should not simply remember the �cuddly� King of the 1964 �I Have a Dream� speech. This is the pleasant King whom we have beatified into our official registery of national saints, the King who said things that � at least now, forty years later � we all want to hear and believe. This is the King who, in the recent words of Agence France Presse, is still "a figurehead in the American fight against racial discrimination", who dreamed of being judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. And well we should remember this King.

But there is more.

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