Let's see if I remember this correctly. I watched the speech live on TV as it happened, but it was a very long time ago -- 1963, to be precise. It was a great speech. I teared up more than once during it, and still do. But there was one line in particular that keeps coming to me over and over again this morning". something about that dream:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where theywill not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Yep, that's it.Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream"speech. But why that one line? Why's that bugging me so damn much today? It must have something to do with the key word in that line. No, not color,"character."Dr. King believed that character was more important than skin color.
Now, I know for a fact thatRep. Charlie Rangelheard that speech. Hell, he's quoted from it. I am equally certain thatRep. Maxine Watersheard that speech. She might have even been there that day at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. But, 47 years later both Rangel and Waters seem to have decided that it really is all about skin color. Character? No so much. In fact, not at all.
But wait, there's more. It seems that the entire Congressional Black Caucus has also determined that Dr.King had it wrong -- that when character comes in conflict with color, color rules.
Today, anarticlein Politico cites an unnamed member of the Congressional Black Caucus who claimed that African-American legislators face a higher degree ofinvestigationthan do their white counterparts.
Remember formerRep. James Traficant, who is as white as the driven snow, and so crooked he had to screw his socks on in the morning? Mr. "Beam Me Up Scotty," didn't have the color shield to hide behind. Congress threw his crooked ass out and the Congressional Black Caucus held the door open for him. Traficant, lackedbothcharacter and color. Frankly, the pure, unmitigated chutzpah on the part of Rangel and Waters and the CBC makes me sick to my stomach.
If Dr. King were around today he'd surely march right over to Capitol Hill to personally deliver good dope-slap to both Waters and Rangel for trying to hide their clear and present character flaws behind their skin color.
The charges against both, while yet to be formally adjudicated, fail the most basic of smell tests:
13 Charges Against Rep. Charles Rangel
3 Charges Against Rep.Maxine Waters
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that two entrenched members of congress, color aside, would do or say anything to stay in power. But hiding such utterly reprehensible behavior behind their skin color has wider implications. Both Rangel and Waters are role models for the black community. They were able to swim upstream against thevirulent racismof the 1950s, 1960s, 1970's -- and the very real racism that persists to this day. But now both sit atop the mountain Dr.King dreamt of, and what do they do? They show lack of character; they lie, they cheat, and then compound their abhorrent behavior by claiming racism is behind it all. It's a bad example that resonates beyond Capitol Hill:
Family: Racial Bias Caused Conn. Gunman to Snap -- Kill 9
Family claims beer driver who killed 8 people and himself snapped after enduring racial bias
August 4, 2010-- Relatives say Thornton, 34, finally cracked after suffering racial harassment in a company where he said he was singled out for being black in a predominantly white work force."Everybody's got a breaking point," said Joanne Hannah, the mother of Thornton's longtime girlfriend.
Yeah,everyonehas their breaking point, but noteveryonepulls a gun and shoots 8 co-workers to death. No white "everyone" does that. No Asian "everyone" does that. No black "everyone" does that. Just like not everyone cheats on their taxes, lies on financial disclosure statements or rigs legislation to benefit their husband, The only"everyones"who do those kind of things are the ones that lack the character Dr. King spoke of in 1963 -- theonly thingthat should matter.
Clearly Dr. King's character test no longer matters to Charlie or Maxine, or way too many members of the Congressional Black Caucus which -- while on digging my own liberal grave here -- should be disbanded as the relic it is. That, BTW, is exactly the way I'd feel were there something called the Congressional White Caucus. What tribal nonsense.
I am not naive. I understand that racism still exists. I am also a pessimist by nature so I also believe racism will always exist -- you know, like death, taxes, and Shark Week. But I am equally certain that I well able to tell the difference between a crooked and an honest white person, a crooked or an honest black person, a crooked or honest politician or any stripe. And here's a news flash for Maxine and Charlie:Most of us out here can.
When I look at Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel I don't see two black members of congress. I see just two more James Traficants. Two more "money on ice in his freezer, former Rep.William Jefferson. And like Traficant and Jefferson, Waters and Rangel deserve exactly the same treatment, and the sooner the better.
Because both have failed Dr. King's test of character.