Friday, January 22, 2010

The Surrogates

My profile doesn’t mention it, but I am married to a Democrat. My sister-in-law refers to us as “a house divided,” a reference that is a bit ominous, given that the “House Divided” speech by Abraham Lincoln describes how a government cannot endure if it is divided by the issue of slavery.

I use this reference as an introduction to the racial politics that come to the forefront when we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The MLK holiday has become America’s “Anti-Republican Holiday.” Our culture uses this holiday to reinforce the theme that Republicans are racists.

It is unsettling on a couple of different levels. First is the ease with which our culture co-opts the message of Dr. King and recasts it into a political one. Martha Coakley’s attendance at an MLK breakfast in Massachusetts (a day before Scott Brown was elected to the Senate) is an example of this phenomenon. She contends that “If Dr. King were here today, he’d be standing with us.”

The idea that Dr. King would be standing against Republicans is not supported by historical fact, but despite the best efforts of Frances Rice, this is the message that endures in our culture.

Second is the idea of using a federal holiday as a vehicle to disparage a group of people. On Martin Luther King Day, Republicans can take refuge in the words of Abraham Lincoln, but the use of the holiday to disparage their character remains unsettling. Imagine how a “Pearl Harbor Day” would come across as an anti-Japanese or anti-Asian day. What about a “9/11 Remembrance Day”? Could it be turned into an “anti-Muslim Day”? Perhaps you have to be a member of the aggrieved group to fully understand.

Regardless of any group affiliation, Americans need to be aware of how political opportunists work with emotions. We need to understand the workings of the surrogates.

Unfortunately, that isn’t happening. I’m not even sure Martha Coakley understands what she is doing. She behaves in a way that shows her actions are “right and natural.” To her, it is inconceivable that Dr. King could have been a registered Republican and pro-life. She knows his intent. He stands with her!

This blog documents cultural phenomena. In our culture, we have anti-Republican surrogates and they are our cultural leaders.

Jon Krakauer, an acclaimed author, is a surrogate.

Mike Keefe, a gifted cartoonist, is a surrogate.

Nora Ephron, a talented writer and director, is a surrogate.

Mike Littwin, a delightful pundit, is a surrogate.

Each of these people works as an individual, but as anti-Republican surrogates, they deliver a uniform message.

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