martin, oj, and john

I’m not sure of the motivation behind it, but I found it odd that the first chapter of OJ Simpson’s not-yet-released book on how he killed Ron Goldman and his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, would be leaked today, on Martin Luther King Day. (It’s almost as though someone out there has a vested interest in fanning the flames.)

A better way to commemorate the day (yes, even better than gathering the family around to watch Michael Richards’ clips and read from the book of OJ), I think, would be to listen to Martin Luther King speak out against our nation’s involvement in Vietnam at New York’s historic Riverside Church in 1967. The speech, delivered a year before his assassination, marked a very public shift in Dr. King’s thinking. Whille I suppose he’d been thiking about such things all along, on this day in 1967, Dr. King comes out very publicly against the war in Vietnam, calling it a “tragedy that threatened to drag our nation down to dust,” and shares a vision of a United States no longer divided by class. He talks of economic justice, across racial lines, and about the global struggle for peace. It is a powerful speech, and it still reverberates.

A quote from Dr. King’s speech:

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered…

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood….

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.” “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day….

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight…

Clearly, John Edwards was looking to channel some of that power yesterday when he addressed those gathered at the same church, talking about morality, poverty and peace… I’m still not sure how I feel about Edwards as a candidate, but I wholeheartedly agree with him when he says, “It is time for Americans to be patriotic about something other than war.” We would, as he suggests, and as I think Dr. King would agree, probably be well served to be patriotic about our nation’s rich (but temporarily misplaced) tradition of morality for a while… Who knows? We might like the results.

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  1. t.d. glass
    Posted January 16, 2007 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    If I were a better person, I’d comment on the MLK stuff, but I’m not, so here’s the most interesting part of the OJ “confession”:

    On June 12, 1994, Simpson attends his daughter Sydney’s dance recital. He writes that he is in a foul mood after the performance, stewing over the behavior of his ex-wife. He is due to fly to Chicago late that night. But first he races to Nicole’s Bundy Drive condominium in Brentwood. He parks in the dark alley behind her condo and dons the knit wool cap and gloves he keeps handy to ward off the chill on the golf course. He also has a knife in the Bronco, protection against L.A. “crazies.” He intends to scare her. He enters through a broken back gate—he’s told her a “million times” to get the buzzer and latch fixed—and encounters Goldman, who is returning the glasses of Nicole’s mother, Juditha. She had left them at Mezzaluna, where the Brown family dined after Sydney’s recital and where Goldman is a waiter. Simpson accuses Goldman of planning a sexual encounter with Nicole, which Goldman denies. Nicole tells Simpson to leave him alone. Goldman’s fate is sealed when Kato, Nicole’s Akita, emerges and gives him a friendly tail wag. “You’ve been here before,” Simpson screams at Goldman.
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    At Simpson’s criminal trial, to explain how one man could have killed two people, the Los Angeles County coroner theorized that Simpson knocked out Nicole, then quickly slit her throat before turning to Goldman. If the book’s account is true, the coroner’s hypothesis was correct—almost. Simpson writes that his ex-wife came at him like a “banshee.” She loses her balance and falls hard, her head cracking against the ground. Goldman assumes a karate stance, further angering Simpson. He dares the younger man to fight. Then, in the book, Simpson pulls back. He writes, “Then something went horribly wrong, and I know what happened, but I can’t tell you exactly how.”

    Race will continue to be a problem in the US until we all become the same color. Then we’ll have to think of another reason to hate, mistrust and fear one another.

  2. ol' e cross
    Posted January 16, 2007 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Nietzsche would’ve loved Simpson.
    Jesus would’ve loved King.

    (Mohammed may have loved them both.)

    It’s always nice to read something that reminds me why I keep the faith.

  3. It's Skinner Again
    Posted January 17, 2007 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Not to worry. Humans are very adaptable, and will always find reasons to hate one another. I recently had another ukulele player sneer at me because I play a different brand of ukulele than he does. “New York” magazine has an article this week on a chef who hates vegetarians. I meet Brooklynites who are contemptuous of Manhattanites.

    And how are relations out there between Ypsi and Ann Arbor?

  4. mark
    Posted January 18, 2007 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    I can’t speak for everyone (at least I’ve been asked not to), but I quite like Ann Arbor. In my free time, I take a notebook downtown there and just watch the people, taking notes as to how I might be able to improve myself. (If I could ever get my shit together, I’d rent a bus and take some of my fellow Ypsilantians there to learn from them.)

  5. Posted October 22, 2008 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Interesting to know.

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