In response to James C. Harrington (“MLK holiday an opportunity to organize for justice,” The Daily News, Jan. 18): Among the many, elegant and sincere proclamations by Martin Luther King Jr. is this fortuitous quote, “If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.”

Once more, all Americans universally celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 20. The intention to celebrate an exceptional man’s accomplishments need not be denigrated by inferring his accomplishment failed to provide current day satisfactions. Our society has embraced King’s message and is working toward his “dream.”

But contrarians report King has failed because we have done too little or done too much. Our work in progress is seriously disrupted by these contrarians.

Harrington presented a well-constructed but convoluted commentary on the national holiday that our total society adopted to memorialize King. Our country’s intent for that national holiday was to honor King’s accomplishments. King was the essential catalyst in the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. King was the motivator of progress toward the purification of our society.

Harrington proclaims a waning of King’s motivation. Not so. King, Gandhi and Jesus aren’t the “what ifs” of comparison to today’s traumas. That construction of “what if” diminishes great accomplishments. Harrington’s commentary using the current traumatic condition as a “what if” portrays King’s accomplishments as ineffective because they’re not solving the current traumas.

Harrington constructed a false premise intended to elicit activism by saying, “In a strange way, the annual commemoration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stirs up unease in me. I fear it’s steadily enfeebling the power of the contradictions in our society that he forced us to face.” There has been no “enfeebling.”

Harrington’s commentary joins a vast number of un-enfeebled contrarian voices. Considering the vast vitriol, incivility and chaos, Harrington’s claimed “unease” fear is deliberate imagination. Contrarians are necessary for a diverse complex democratic society because they’re the fuel that drives good men on the quest for tranquility.

We have had the day of the celebration. Universally American society stopped — schools, work, and government function — formed processions heralding the life and contributions of a man who embodied civility while demanding equality for all. Only peace and civility, no call for violence or any “cruel” castigations or personal attacks were resident in King’s heart and his call for actions.

In the mantel of a contrarian, it’s most egregious when Harrington ignores civility, castigates and called by name Gov. Greg Abbott as “cruel” for acts that are contradictory with Harrington’s judgment. Castigation with a personal attack isn’t honoring a champion of civility — Martin Luther King Jr.

Harrington’s cataclysmal prophesying the intent and future effects of Abbot’s action is intellectually absurd.

Go to: 108 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes — Inspirational Quotes at BrainyQuote. There you will have the messages of civility in King’s own words. Though specific groups claim King as their own, he is a universal hero.

David Hardee lives in Bayou Vista.

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(19) comments

Charles Douglas

" Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate.........!"

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) used the phrase when saying: Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. "We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love... Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding."

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Great article Mr. Hardee! Very eloquently articulated! This man was one of the most influential men of my lifetime besides my DAD who kept me out of incarceration! Ms. Viola Liuzzo a White mother with kids from Michigan, who sacrificed her life helping African-Americans fight discrimination and Jim Crow laws in the South during Segregation was another soul who cared! She was another individual who touch my life immensely! Dr. MLK spoke of Ms. Liuzzo in several of his speeches. Back then the main victims of the time were African-Americans, but it was not just an African-American struggle! Ms. Viola Liuzzo was not African-American but gave her life leaving 4-5 little kids behind, fighting for equality! Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were not African-Americans, they were White, but they died on a dark lonely road, with James Chaney who was African-American, by KKK members who hated them because of their work for equality. One thing Dr. MLK impressed on me was this... in my words: " WHEN you get to the mountain top,...make sure you are able to compete with anyone on the mountain top!" This message helped to drive me to prepare for every job or career position, I have ever been associated in my employment careers.

Gary Scoggin

“ Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. "We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love” —. That’s not the approach our current Counter-Puncher-in-Chief uses.

Charles Douglas

"We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love." So Gary, if our current President is not an example of this process, which American President was? I'll wait..........

Gary Scoggin

In many respects, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Bush aspired to this, even if not fully successful. Our current President does not even aspire to this. In fact he relishes fights so much he goes out of his way to pick them.

Carlos Ponce

"he relishes fights so much he goes out of his way to pick them." No. He is a counter-puncher, always responding to verbal assaults.

Bailey Jones

Not to be pedantic - but it's a failing of mine - the "Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate" quote goes back at least to the Buddha, in verse 5 of the Dhammapada (a sort of Buddhist version of the OT Book of Proverbs).

"Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law."

Wisdom is as wisdom does.

BTW - verse 6 is relevant to another letter this morning, "There are those who do not realize that one day we all must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels."

Charles Douglas

By the way Mr. Jones ..where is Buddha this morning? If he is not dead, when did he rise from the grave? Did he ever heal anybody? Did he ever make wine out of water, or cause a dead man to live again?

Did he ever make a lame man walk, or a blind man see? Man this Buddha, what did he do? Did he ever lay his life down for the sins of mankind as a once for all sacrifice required by GOD that whosoever would call on his name would be save from Hell and the Lake of Fire? Man you got me curious this morning! I'll wait on your reply.........

Bailey Jones

lol, Charles. Your Christianity need not fear the Buddha. He never claimed to be a divine being. He never spoke of the after life. His teachings are for the here and now, for the alleviation of human suffering in the present world - not to save you from whatever horrors you imagine might come after.

But I take your point - never worship a man. Even one as wise as Siddhartha Gautama.

Now, please go on and on about your magnificent Trump...

Bailey Jones

I think your critique is off the mark in a couple of respects.

First, this idea that America has "universally" drawn MLK into its bosom. MLK Day was only finally accepted "universally" by all the states in 2000. You may remember Republican Senator Jesse Helms filibustering the MLK Day law, calling him a Marxist. Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi still celebrate the day as Robert E Lee's birthday. And given that Lee was never a citizen of those states, the reason for that conflation is clear - a racist poke at an African American hero.

Go to any conservative blog site and search for stories on MLK, then go to the comments section. You'll find something like this that I just pulled off of Breitbart - "The de-classified FBI FILES are voluminous with evidence of KING's COMMUNIST Front organization ties. His extra-marital affairs rival JFK's & approach Wilt Chamberlain's fantastic immoral claims. So much for "CHARACTER". Also, the "Reverend" Dr. KING, in his PUBLISHED university writings, Denied the DIETY of Jesus Christ & Denied the RESURRECTION of the Lord, thereby Mocking basic Orthodox tenets of the TRUE Christian Faith that this Phony Hypocrite claimed to represent. M. L. KING, Jr. was "great" in one respect --- KING was a GREAT FRAUD !!!! KING was a Radical Leftist, a Race Agitator, a Liar & Immoral!!!!"

This is a troll, obviously, but you don't have to scratch the right wing too deeply to hear similar comments. But, it's also true that MLK has been claimed by many mainstream modern conservatives. Which brings me to my second point.

Mr. Harrington's concern that the celebration of MLK Day is "enfeebling" the cause of civil rights is a valid one. It's become just another American holiday. Have a parade, sell some mattresses, have some cute kids give the "I have a dream" speech, and enjoy a three day weekend. No talk about wealth inequality, no talk about incarceration rates, no talk about racism in law enforcement, certainly no talk about improving the lot of the poor. MLK was a firebrand, truly one of those Old Testament prophets. He was murdered for what he believed, what he said, and what he did. But the MLK we celebrate today is as white washed as slavery and the confederacy - someone who a modern day Jesse Helms might comfortably quote in a campaign ad.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character". Modern racists have grabbed onto this like Trump feeling up an American flag. It's fashionable now to blame the racial inequalities in our society not on race, or our systemic racism - but on the character of those who continue to be dispossessed of the American Dream.

Charles Douglas

Mr. Jones! Mr. Jones! What am I to do with you? Lolo. I know you are a good individual, this I know, but tell me,....what am I going to do? First of all Sir, there will NEVER be a United STATES Of America with no racial hatred operating in IT! The reason why is because this is not a perfect society! There is not one unflawed individual walking inside not only America but the world! This is not a utopian society and it never will be until Jesus comes back and set up his reign on the earth to show us how it should have been done. I don't give a RIP about George Wallace, Big Bull Connors, Lester Maddox, or Jesse Helms for that matter. It has been a struggle for African-Americans in this country, ..I know because my family has lived in and have been affected by that struggle! Is everything perfect now, ....no. I can say though this world is not perfect for no man, it is an imperfect world, where an astronomical amount of change and improvements over the years have taken place here for the better! So, why expect conservatives or Liberals or anyone else here to be perfect? This means there is continuing work to be addressed, but why, turn and dwell on how bad it use to be? We know all about how it use to be! What are we, you and I, and others are doing TODAY, ...to help the less fortunate, the poor, the widows, and the orphans? The past is fixed and cannot be changed Sir! Everybody might not have celebrated MLK DAY, but I bet everybody did not celebrate CHRISTMAS DAY either!!!!!!!!! To this I say So WHAT SIR? I would think the majority of America did celabrate on both occasions. Again, if we seek perfection in human beings, it is a fruitless mission, because there are none! "POBODY IS NERFECT!!" One more nugget. The American Dream is not automatic, it must be sought after, with the proper measure of preparation, hard work and diligence, just as the plan GOD has preordained for every individual's life. God gives us the Word, the Power, and a Godly plan or blueprint, with gifts and, talents in order to reach our destination, but we are changed with developing those gifts, talents, and a righteous heart from which the issues of life flows forward, by using the Lamp and the light of the Word, and practically applying them all in our walk and life to get there. Believe it or not, there is great responsibilities on each individual which should be adhered to if that individual will be a success in life juxtaposed to being a failure!

Bailey Jones

It's not perfection that I'm after, Charles. What I want is progress.

For the past 50 years, for example, black unemployment has averaged more than double white unemployment. Finally,

under the strength of the economy, it's down to "only" 175% of white unemployment. That is scant progress for half a century. You may choose to be satisfied with that. I choose not to be.

Another example - African Americans are incarcerated at 5 times the rate of whites. If a black person is arrested for the exact same crime as a white person they are more likely to be found guilty, more likely to go to prison (6 times more likely if it's a drug offense), more likely to have a longer sentence, and less likely to get paroled than a white person. You may choose to be satisfied with that. I choose not to be.

And I could go on and on and on - education, health care, wealth distribution, political representation, etc., etc.

Our society is broken, Charles. I'll grant you that it's not as broken as it once was, but it's still broken, and that's not acceptable. And this isn't due to a few imperfect people. This is due to systemic and pervasive racism in our institutions - education, the justice system, employment, politics, insurance, banking, the health care system - everything from cradle to grave.

The good news is that most Americans these days aren't racist. But our institutions are. They carry the inertia of prejudice and privilege from decades of racial presumption. But institutions are our own creations and they can be changed.

I'm an engineer, Charles. When I see that something is broke, I try to fix it. When I see that something can be improved, I try to improve it. Besides being an engineer, I'm a progressive. I strive for progress - progress in bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice. I have only disdain for the conservative ideal of maintaining the status quo, and I sure as heck do not want to take America backwards.

I have 9 grand children and 4 great grand children - all African Americans. I have a duty to try to make this nation a better place for them. It's really just as simple as that.

Charles Douglas

Mr. Jones, I appreciate many of your points here, but you cannot snap your fingers and everything is okay. I've observed much improvements in this country for anybody who would use the tools at hand to go forth seeking what they wanted to become. You cannot legislate morality. It is a developed trait. It takes people of different backgrounds interfacing with others different than themselves. Where you and I differ is the speed of the change that is happening. You mentioned being progressive, and as you know I am conservative. I believe in freedom, but I don't believe everything ought to be free, and spoon fed to anyone! I suspect this is the area where we differ the most. I appreciate hearing your progressive views, and reading your posts! ( Not when you are excoriating DJT though .lol ).

Bailey Jones

I had to rewrite that three times to keep Trump out of it, but I did it just for you. [beam]

I believe that many of the problems still exist just because so many people (like Mr. Hardee, perhaps) believe that they don't exist. For instance, a police chief will always take the side of his officers - but any conscientious police chief, when confronted with real information that his officers are performing their jobs with a racial bias, will fix it. And that's how change is made - not through snapping fingers, but by an individual seeing a problem within their own sphere of influence and doing something about it. It's that personal responsibility you like to talk about. But you have to be willing to see the problem.

And for the record, I have no issue with conservatism as a philosophy - it has its place - it's just not my philosophy.

Emile Pope

Unfortunately the writer takes all day to say absolutely nothing at all...

Maris Helfrich

Right on, Emile! Look at the "source" is what I believe. James C. Harrington does not need to be defended, but I will! F Y I, I share his background which is worth knowing. He is a Texas civil rights lawyer and founder of the TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT in 1990 having worked with the Texas branch of the American Civil Rights Union from 1973 to 1990. His efforts collaborated with the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez. Under Harrington's leadership the TCRP had a significant impact, winning many civil rights cases ....i.e. disability rights, rural economic justice, racial discrimination, police brutality , right to privacy, etc. He retired in 2015. And according to Wikipedia, Jim Harrington is the director of social justice projects at St. James' Episcopal Church in Austin. He is pursuing a path to the priesthood. His serious piece in the DAILY NEWS should be taken seriously by us, and the last thing he would be worried about, is "hurting peoples' feelings " when there are reputable transgressions against social justice and human rights such as he pointed out taking place in his beloved state of Texas! MLK would be the first one to congratulate this giant of a defender for social and civil rights! I invite all to refresh themselves in the life and career of James C. Harrington.

David Hardee

Thanks to all who comments have made thought-provoking contributions. The constant exception is silly and annoying Emile.

…………………………….. Here are responses to your comments …………………………………….

Maris – Your praising bio of Harrington needs more exposure to his incentives relative to lawyer-client compensation. I consider hypothetical recrimination as deplorable, but when Maris hypothesized Harrington’s purism saying, - “His (Harrington’s) serious piece in the DAILY NEWS should be taken seriously by us, and the last thing he (Harrington) would be worried about, is "hurting peoples' feelings" when there are reputable transgressions against social justice and human rights”- as appropriate it deserves retort. Here is my hypothetical retort - Now it can be revealed that Harrington’s article that I critiqued was the product of the (professionally jaded) mind of a lawyer that for 40 years made money from filing “civil rights” abuse claims. Harrington in 2016 was the most active in the TRCP ((a 501-c) “charitable” organization) that provides (actually solicits) any who will claim abuse. The IRS filings of TRCP reveals that the funding includes Texas Attorney General (the “cruel” Greg Abbott) gave - our tax money - approx $180,000.00 and other LAWYER associations gave approximately $1,700,000.00. In 2016 Harrington was a board member and the only 40 hours a week employed lawyer. This record belongs to a mercenary that wishes to be perceived as the cleanser of a corrupt society. The indoctrination of a lawyer creates an enabler of any issue for a price. Maris reports Harrington is now on the path to become a priest. That will create the unique title of REVEREND LAWYER ACTIVIST. Imagine what would be the financial impact on lawyers and our society is ever without “civil rights“abuses. A lawyer’s action can never be assumed as understood for a moral reason.

Bailey - the UNIVERSAL celebration refers to the fact that during that celebratory day there has not been a single reporting of a demonstration, condemnation, riot or disturbance. That is UNIVERSAL acceptance.

Harrington’s “Enfeeble” was meant to call for more activists and vicious activism. Activism today is rampant. Our society is constantly bombarded with “civil rights” activism. And the vitriol resulting from activism runs the gambit from legislation to killings. King was not a proponent of and actually denounces the extremes of activism. My point is that Harrington's claim of ENFEEBLING is absurd considering there is constant activism today.

Bailey, the conflicts of 20 years ago are irrelevant to support your propositions of flaws in my article. And the struggle between Helms and King has long ago been resolved. King won and Helms capitulated! Also, Robert E Lee's celebrations do not diminish King. Those celebrations (civil war confederates) do not qualify as universal accepted because activists on both sides relish in their desire to be insulted and create havoc.

My article herald King and challenged Harrington for his diminishing what has become a day our society is at peace with celebrating an ICON that promoted progress toward better humanity. Harrington intended to USE it for inciting irritation. We are making progress when that day is without activism.

Your personalizing (family) our tete-a-tete is unfair. I have not called out Harrington for anything other than sullying the celebration of King’s one day of honor and his “cruel” castigation of Gov.Abbott.

Emile – You should not exhaust your ability to compose a comprehensible thought over something that you consider nothing.

To all that made comments - I believe and believe you desire “the dream” utopia. Achieving utopia requires total submission of every human instinct, desire, ambition, ego, etc. etc... I am a flawed human unable and unwilling to total submission when surrounded by those that will not submit totally. That is the dilemma.

None of us is without finding some condition where society is treating us unfairly. Living is a journey through a maze (puzzle). Even those that have total compatibility with the majority must struggle to find a way to navigate the maze. No matter where on earth, what government, what society, there is a maze. And if you have any peculiarity your maze is more challenging. America is doing the best on our planet. Keep the faith that struggling peacefully will get us to our desired – men of goodwill and peace on earth. Amen!

Emile Pope

Even Tolstoy would say wrap it up...

David Hardee

Emile, I work hard to be comprehensible. I always regret the necessity to be lengthy. These sarcastic quips are economic, lazy and useless.

Emile Pope

So do we...

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