Monday, January 17, 2011
Our nation has set aside this day to celebrate the life and great works of Martin Luther King Jr. And here at Hope n' Change, we think it's a particularly fitting occasion to consider the place of rhetoric and nonviolent protest in American life.
Many of Dr. King's pronouncements targeted a government and laws which were intended to silence a huge number of people. His speeches were powerful, passionate, and unashamedly filled with words like "morality" and "right"... and he did not hesitate to say that these were issues of life and death importance.
He drew crowds which were, to a large degree, not racially diverse. He rallied thousands on the National Mall in Washington DC. And in the end, he changed our nation for the better - not by violence, but by fomenting a revolution at the ballot box.
The parallels to today's Tea Party Movement are striking, including the use of non-violence as a fundamental principle. But the same tools and methods used by Dr. King are now being threatened from those on the Left (and sadly, the spineless on the Right). Laws are being proposed to restrict political speech, and a willing conspiracy between the press and the politicians exists to suppress the voices of those calling for a return to sanity and integrity in governance.
But would such suppression of language and peaceful protest result in a kinder, gentler America? Not according to Dr. King, who said "A riot is the language of the unheard."
Free speech is not the cause of violence. It is the cure.