I wrote the following post a long time ago – and then duly forgot about it. But my school teacher brother called me today and asked, “How do you say ‘I have a dream’ in Hebrew?”. I told him and then realized what he was up to. “Is this for one of those crazy liberal projects at your school?” I asked. His reply was that it is a federal requirement to have a “Martin Luther King assembly” at every school. Of course I don’t like being a part of such foolishness – but at least he was recognizing his own Jewish heritage, even if in a perverse way.
The past, by definition, is no longer with us. I think this is why old photographs interest us so much; they present us with a paradox. The past does not exist; only the present exists – and just barely. When we look at an old photograph (actually any photograph, but an old one presents the paradox more starkly), we are viewing realistic representations of things that do not exist. We struggle with the past. We try to make it real, or to forget it as the case may be. People of the past also do not exist. It is even argued that people of the present do not exist, that the whole concept of “self” is an illusion.
Martin Luther King does not exist. Neither does Adolf Hitler. Here is what I wrote:
Many negative things have been said about Martin Luther King. He is said to have been a shameless womanizer, a plagiarist, a Communist and a bigot. It is even claimed that his “real” name was something else. Whether all these accusations are 100% accurate or not I do not know. I suspect that they are mostly true – but he is dead. For most of us alive today, all that remains of him is the folk-hero part of him. The man is gone and, in his stead, we now have a holiday and a set of values that most people perceive as good.
I do not care what King’s “real” name was. It makes no difference. As for his statement that we should judge others not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”, plagiarized or not it seems like a worthy rule to follow. Of course, we race-realists are condemned all the time for judging blacks by their character while, at the same time, those who call themselves “liberals” and “progressives” give much importance to skin color when it comes to college admissions, promotions or poverty statistics. The “content of your character” will not get you into a prestigious law school if your skin is white and your competitor’s skin is black.
I was reading John de Nugent’s website and watching his videos. He claims that Hitler was not such a bad guy after all. That he was good to the working class, promoted wholesome family life, bolstered the economy and brought pride back to a downtrodden people. He claims, of course, that the mass murder of Jews is all a big lie. While the debate about the Holocaust will likely never end, it is likely that Nugent’s other claims about Hitler are true. It is easy to see how the good works of a hated enemy would be suppressed by those who defeated him. Like King, Hitler is dead. If King can have a holiday based on a fictitious account of his character, why not Hitler? National Hitler Day would, of course, be on a Monday. For weeks leading up to it, and after it, the nation would promote the virtues of wholesome family values, honoring the working class, refraining from excessive drinking, meaningful patriotism and athletics.
I’d forgotten to mention the parts about not smoking and promoting vegetarianism.