Saturday, March 1, 2014

Don't You Love Rhetorical Questions?

Now that White History Year has resumed, here are a few words from the prophetic Alexander Cockburn thirty-one years ago:
"Why not a Martin Luther King Day?" the New York Times asked editorially last Friday, and answered, "Dr. King, a humble man, would have objected to giving that much importance to any individual.  Nor should he be given singular tribute if that demeans other historical black figures like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Dubois and Malcolm X ..."  Give one of them a holiday and they'll all be wanting one.  Muhammad Ali Day, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Day. Where would it end?  Better, the Times suggests, to give King a statue in the Capitol, presumably in white marble to blend in with the rest.
[Originally published in the Village Voice, December 21, 1982; reprinted in Cockburn's Corruptions of Empire (Verso, 1988), p. 301]