Monday, January 21, 2002

You shouldn't really read the I Have A Dream speech if you have the chance to hear it. The rhythm of the delivery, the music of the voice, the soul of the words are what evoke Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream in listeners almost 40 years after the March on Washington. This year, realizing that civil rights leaders sometimes turn more minor issues into dramatic crusades, clinging stubbornly to the narrative of victimization, I'm thinking less about how far Dr. King's dream has come in the eyes of social scientists; instead I'm pondering whatever happened to rhetoric this rich. This is spiritual and passionate, unlike the empty sales pitches that dominate our discourse today. It's also interesting to note that for as much as segregation may have stemmed from a warped notion of Christian order, "I Have A Dream" is a very biblical oration, steeped in allusions and metaphors from the pages of the Bible. Today, the secular left mostly avoids this kind of explicit biblical vocabulary. Always worth a read, especially on King Day:

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