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Saying Good-bye to Coretta Scott King

Yesterday’s funeral for Coretta Scott King sure has stirred up a hornet’s nest among right-wing pundits and blogs. How gauche, how distasteful, how horrible that mourners would use the occasion of Mrs. King’s funeral to speak truth to power, we hear from folks who would tell those who marched with Dr. and Mrs. King that they don’t know how to behave in public.

Well, that’s just a whole load of malarky.

And the condescending tone used by critics of Rev. Lowery, a man who helped to found the SCLC with Dr. King and others, who fought on the front lines of the civil rights movement beside Dr. and Mrs. King and so many others, and who has dedicated his life to the principles of equality and liberty and peace — to say that he had no right to speak as he did ignores the whole history of the civil rights movement.

"She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar," Lowery said. "We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew, and we knew, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor."

And it just goes to show how used to hand-picked audiences and shutting out any and all criticism this Administration and its supporters have become. Cowards, hiding behind their wall of secret service agents and GOP gate-keepers.

Sure, some of the rhetoric was a bit pointed. That President Bush had to sit there and take it had to be rough on occasion — and he gets a point or two for showing up (instead of ducking the occasion like he’s done with the NAACP the last five years) — but Coretta Scott King did not duck the hard truths in her lifetime, she faced them head on. So why should the President’s supporters think he is any less responsible for facing truth as the leader of our nation?

If you missed the funeral yesterday, Crooks and Liars has a wonderful montage of clips that was put together by Countdown with Keith Olbermann. The love, the respect and the honor for Mrs. King shines through in so many of the faces and the words.

The King legacy is not one of sitting on the sidelines, trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings and keeping silent in the face of injustice. That Republican pundits are trying to shush voices at Mrs. King’s funeral is appalling, and condescending, and incredibly ignorant about the whole of Mrs. King’s life and her life’s work.

I think former President Clinton said it best yesterday:

"Her children, we know they have to bear the burden of their mother and father’s legacy," Clinton told the crowd. "We clap for that, but they have to go home and live it." He challenged the mourners. "You want to treat our friend Coretta like a role model? Then model her behavior."

The best way to honor Mrs. King is to live by her example. Speak truth to power. Be kind to those who need a helping hand, and stand up for what you believe to be the right thing, even when that act of standing is difficult in the face of overwhelming odds.

One voice — one single, solitary voice — speaking truth into the darkness can become a beacon for the entire world. Dr. and Mrs. King were such lights. Such courage and insight is difficult to find, and although we may never see their like again, we should be that change we wish to see. And in doing so, we honor all those who have walked the long march before us in the name of liberty and freedom.

(Photo credit to Ozier Muhammad via The New York Times.)

UPDATE: The Left Coaster has more. As does Taylor Marsh. And the Boston Globe adds some of Mrs. King’s own words and sentiments.

UPDATE #2: From Wilson46201 in the comments:

Jeff Greenfield on CNN this morning explained clearly how it worked. He pointed out that Drudge had the whining up on his website before the service was even finished. Hannity and Limbaugh then picked it up. Kate OBeirne then whined on MSNBC with Tweety. That’s how the story was developed.
Mehlman and Rove are laughing all the way to the polls: "angry, disrespectful Democrats trash dignified funeral!"

Behold, the Mighty Wurlitzer, in all its gorey.

UPDATE #3: ThinkProgress has a transcript and some video of Rev. Lowery explaining the concept of speaking truth to power to Bow Tie Boy.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com