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daddy king

The author and Martin Luther King, Sr., taken in a church in Mt. Vernon, New York during the 1976 campaign for Jimmy Carter.

The Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech the day after I turned 10 years old. At that point in my life I was a pious altar boy serving the priests and parishioners at St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church in Northeast Philadelphia. Two points here: first, that speech would later in life serve as a guiding beacon to my devotion to liberal politics; second, growing up a Catholic in the 1960’s and attending Catholic schools through high school lent a certain philosophical foundation to the teachings of Christianity that would govern my personal and professional decisions for the rest of my life.

This past week I bore witness to two events that clearly illuminate the perversion of our souls and being in the current time and age. On the one hand I witnessed the pathetic and sickening specter of lilly white Catholic school children from Kentucky engaged in an act of intimidation and humiliation of Native Americans practicing their spiritual and cultural rituals in a way that mocks the very essence of Jesus Christ himself. The ignorance, arrogance, and abject cruelty which these students exhibited made me embarrassed not as a Catholic but as a human being. The fact that they did so while wearing Make America Great Again baseball caps, and not a word of revulsion emanated from the White House or the President, our irreverent tweeter-in-Chief, once again allegiance to ignorance trumped sound judgement, empathy, and humility.

I do not pretend in the least to be a righteous practitioner of my religion but what is deeply embedded in me is the very basic Christian concept of acceptance of others as members of the human family.

I do not pretend in the least to be a righteous practitioner of my religion but what is deeply embedded in me is the very basic Christian concept of acceptance of others as members of the human family. Is this not what Christ taught? Is this not a firm tenet of most religious and spiritual beliefs? Do unto others as you would have done to you? Judge not, that you be not judged? The actions of these so-called Christians should alarm us all.

On the other hand I witnessed an equally perverse exercise of gigantic misappropriation as our very self-righteous Vice-President, Mr. Pence, defended his wife’s decision to teach at a private institution of learning dedicated to unadulterated discrimination while he himself mocked Dr. King by pretending to draw something resembling a connection between his “Dream” speech and a justification for building a wall around his warped isolationist and pro-White supremicist views.

Even a cursory examination of Dr. King’s call for love, inclusion, freedom, liberty, justice and basic human rights for all creeds and colors, as contained within his epic proclamation that day in August 1963 would reveal that construction of barriers, whether physical, social, intellectual or otherwise is a direct affront and contradiction to the belief in a family of man. King devoted his life to unshackling us from the bonds of oppression, bigotry, discrimination while the Trump/Pence administration assiduously spends time wrapping us in the very chains we supposedly abhor.

While our President is a con man, a criminal, and so basically devoid of any notion of humanity as to be anathema to anyone who even pretends to practice faith in a higher being or spirituality to a greater power of good, our Vice-President is a charlatan, a snake oil salesman whose devotion to power is as powerful as Trump’s devotion to money. That both of these political creatures garner a huge proportion of religious ideologues is a crime against humanity and seriously brings into question the extent to which political ideology has trumped religious values and the teachings of Christ among the vast primarily Evangelical community of support they enjoy.

King was inspirational, a minister, a man of deep faith and social justice and his teachings, his writings, his work is antithetical to everything Trump and Co. stand for. To insinuate that building the wall is a validation of King’s cries for democracy is irreconcilably absurd. Trump is the Mother of self-aggrandizement, a shrew who delights in belittling others, he represents the motherlode of everything we should be teaching our children not to be.

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As the days wax and wane, as we as a society fall further and further behind in our obligations to our children and to humanity as a whole, I cannot help but be drawn to the songs and lyrics of poets such as Roger Waters, who nearly four decades ago wrote a musical anthem with more political and humanitarian wisdom than our contemporary so-called leaders can possibly fathom. A sample of songs that still haunt today can be found in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.

Witness these masterful verses in the song entitled “Mother”:

Mother should I build the wall?
Mother should I run for President?
Mother should I trust the government?
Mother will they put me in the firing line?
Is it just a waste of time?

Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry.
Mama’s gonna make all your nightmares come true.
Mama’s gonna put all her fears into you.
Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm.
Of course mama’s gonna help build the wall.

Mother, did it need to be so high?

Trump is a mother, but not mine, and the evil of his ignorance, the cruelty of his arrogance, the retardation of his intellectual capacity, the vindictiveness of his actions, and the limits of his creativity and imagination threaten all children, not only the bastards he now fathers as a result of the position he has been afforded.

Trump and his minions bear responsibility for the stupidity that governs our public policies with respect to immigrants, allies, adversaries, minority voters, tax and spending policies, the environment, social services, foreign affairs and domestic programs, and the very nature of democracy, freedom, liberty, justice, and equal opportunity. In essence, we are witnessing the evisceration of the bedrock principles that rendered progressive advances, however belated and incremental, that have made us the leading light among democratic societies.

So today, as we celebrate Dr. King, let us not besmirch his legacy by invoking his name in the fight to destroy our democracy. Rather continue to Resist and Persist! All in all, don’t just be another brick in the Wall.

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Lance Simmens