Monday, January 16, 2012

Dr. King Would Not Be Pleased


The ironies of human life are almost unbearable sometimes.  Like today, the national observance of the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Living as I do in the city Dr. King made famous, my local Atlanta news station covers the annual MLK services at Ebenezer Baptist Church minute by David Scottminute.  Though I have frankly tired of the redundancy of the speeches delivered by members of his family and local politicians, I dutifully tuned in this morning in time to hear the preacheresque  delivery of a stemwinder by U.S. Representative David Scott, my Inman Park neighbor whom I often see watering his front yard in his pajamas and robe.

Scott whipped the congregation of Atlanta’s movers and shakers into the appropriate frenzy, using the opportunity to encourage all of us to get out and vote in the Presidential election in November.  He did a little Jessie Jackson rhyming.  He threw in the list of Obama accomplishments that are so often omitted and ignored by his opposing aspirants.  And he ended by dramatically reciting the lyrics of the great Billie Holliday’s God Bless the Child:


Them that's got shall get
Them that's not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Just in case the message of us- versus-them didn’t convey, the next speaker, Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal walked to the podium Nathan Dealwhile the crowd continued to whoop and holler, as if possessed by the Holy Spirit they speak and sing so much about.  This will be the first time I have ever had such a thought – much less articulate it – but I felt a tad sorry for the Governor.  From the look on his face, so did he!

Nathan Deal was first elected to the U.S. Congress in November 1992 as a Democrat.  But as soon as Republicans gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1995 for the first time in 40 years, Deal joined the Republican Party then led by Speaker Newt Gingrich.  He remained a member of Congress until he took office as Governor of Georgia in January 2011.

One would probably wonder how a man who has accepted the obligatory invitation to address the King Day congregation has acquitted himself on the topic of Civil Rights.  On the Issues.org lists his voting record:


Click here for 14 full quotes on Civil Rights OR background on Civil Rights.
  • Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Nov 2007)
  • Voted YES on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. (Jul 2006)
  • Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
  • Voted YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)
  • Voted YES on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Sep 2004)
  • Voted YES on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration. (Jun 2003)
  • Voted YES on banning gay adoptions in DC. (Jul 1999)
  • Voted YES on ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions. (May 1998)
  • Supports anti-flag desecration amendment. (Mar 2001)
  • Rated 7% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Issue a commemorative postage stamp of Rosa Parks. (Dec 2005)
  • Rated 0% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Rated 14% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Supports Amendment to prevent same sex marriage. (Aug 2010) 
 It will probably come as no surprise to the reader that Nathan Deal vigorously supports the Georgia law that requires a photo I.D. in order to cast a vote.  In the speech he had just delivered, David Scott had urged those in attendance not to allow that law to get them down, which Scott believes it was designed to do.  Many in the state believe the law was passed specifically to suppress the African American vote.
So there he was, at the podium, a little ashen, waiting in vain for the crowd to quiet itself.  Even as he tried to begin his remarks over the din, some over enthusiastic members of the audience shouted over him.

What did Deal have to say?  I couldn’t tell you.  I did not stick around to hear the lies and platitudes that would make even a peacemaker like Martin Luther King, Jr. want to slap His Honor the Governor upside his head.



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