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Harold Ford Is Unclear on the Concept of Non-Violence

MLK Day event at NAN; left to right: Re. Charles Rangel, Harold Ford, Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand, Gov. David Paterson, Rev. Al Sharpton (photo: azipaybarah)

MLK Day event at NAN; left to right: Re. Charles Rangel, Harold Ford, Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand, Gov. David Paterson, Rev. Al Sharpton (photo: azipaybarah)

Harold Ford clearly has read George Orwell’s 1984, but I’m not sure he understood that “Newspeak” is not something to which a reality-based politician should aspire.

The New York Times describes a King Day appearance at Rev. Al Sharpton’s headquarters by Harold Ford and Kirsten Gillibrand. Here’s a snip from their picture of Ford:

Mr. Ford spoke about his childhood in Memphis, describing a grandmother who used the extension cords from living room lamps to discipline him and his brother. “I am always amazed when I meet parents who say they can’t get their kids to go to church, ’cause I didn’t know kids had options like that.”

Later, he returned to the subject: “We as a nation need to be disciplined. If there were ever a day in which an electric cord ought to be used on all of us to remind us of what’s good, what’s bad, what’s right and what’s wrong, it’s on the King holiday.

Yes, by all means, if there ever were a day to advocate violence as a tool of social change, it’s the Martin Luther King holiday.

I must have missed Martin Luther King Jr. swinging the electrical cords at the bus drivers in Montgomery.

I must have missed the electrical cords being waved in the faces of Bull Connor and his police dogs in Birmingham.

I must have missed the part of the “I have a dream” speech where King said “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be whipped with electrical cords until they all sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

I must have missed a lot of that.

As a pastor, I’m usually one who likes it when someone says “you ought to go to church.” On the other hand, it sure makes my job as a preacher a helluva lot harder when the last message kids got before coming to church was, “You’re going to go to church and listen to Pastor talk about love and hope and joy and peace and compassion and bearing one another’s burdens and charity, or I’m going to whip your backside till it glows. And you smile when Pastor says ‘hello’ or I’ll whip your backside when we get home.”

Thanks, Harold. Thanks a lot.


[post corrected: Birmingham is now Montgomery, Selma is now Birmingham. Thanks to our readers.]

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.