Monday, January 17, 2011

The Dr. King Interview You (Probably) Haven't Seen

although i've written about martin luther king, jr. and the holiday that celebrates his life's work before on this blog, i think it would be interesting this time around to hear from the man himself. this is an interview from the mike douglas show -- such an important staple of my childhood! -- from 1967, with singer tony martin in the guest seat.

this little chat fascinates me, for several reasons.

first of all, everyone is so respectful of each other. think about it: the civil rights movement is the absolute hot topic of the decade. there have been riots, violence and various factions in the black community that have arisen to speak out against the status quo. dr. king is a controversial figure, to say the least. and yet, there's no open hostility towards him from mike douglas or mr. martin. no anger, no animosity. all of them are polite towards each other. they actually listen to everything he has to say.

this would never fly on fox news.

secondly, it's clear that dr. king knows how to think critically and deeply and objectively, and that he knows how to talk and listen. these qualities should be the hallmark of a truly educated person -- not a degree or a title or a salary. once upon a time, a liberal arts education very nearly guaranteed you at least that much. for so many in too many schools of higher learning, it's really all about a kind of blind, regurgitative process that has little or nothing to do with critical thought. you rinse whatever it is through your brain and hopefully enough information sticks to get you through midterms and finals. the end.

sarah palin fascinates the world, not because she's brilliant but because she's so far off the mark. any thinking person is genuinely astonished at how daft she is, in part because she doesn't seem to be aware of her own ineptitude. catch phrases and clever quips matter so much more than critical thinking in our egocentric, media drenched soundbite oriented culture. we've got to blast the competition. we've got to tell them off. that scenario is unimaginable here. listening to him talk is like a breath of fresh air.

and that's the other thing. what he's saying is so relevant to what's happening in this country now. ultimately, so much of what he said was true, it's almost a little creepy -- listening to him talk about vietnam, it's almost interchangeable with the wars in iraq and afghanistan.

i'm probably way too idealistic to seriously entertain this question, but this interview makes me wonder: were we as a country on the verge of dismantling -- or at least acknowledging -- white privilige and white entitlement at this time in our history?

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