MiLK Day

I remember the first time I flipped my new calendar over and saw "MLK" Day listed there as one of the holidays. I glanced at it for a moment and thought to myself, "Milk Day? We have a holiday for celebrating milk? Is that like Boxing Day in Canada? What the fuck?"

I took my calendar to a coworker and showed it to them. Apparently Monday morning mental haze is contagious. I remember my coworker looking at it as bewildered as I was and saying, "I don't know what that is. I've never heard of Milk Day."

You'd think, what with every fucking street in every major city named "Rev Martin Luther King Jr Parkway" and "Rev Martin Luther King Jr Avenue" and "Rev Martin Luther King Jr Drive" and on and on and on, that we would have known instantly what that was.

And, of course, living in Memphis, the city where Mr. King was shot and killed, you might expect this event to stand out in our minds, much like the birthday of Elvis, which I had no idea had just passed until someone on MySpace wished me a happy birthday 2 weeks ago.

It's a long story. Don't ask.

Also, having grown up hearing Bono and U2 singing an entire song praising Martin Luther King, and mistakenly thinking he was singing about Jesus Christ, you might expect that I'd see "MLK" on a calendar and instantly know, "this is for that guy that Bono sings about."

But no, I had no clue.

I also had no clue what the date itself represented. At first I thought it was a holiday celebrating Martin Luther King's death. After all, we celebrate the death of Christ, but then that had a special significance, as his death and resurrection were an essential part of a new covenant with God himself. Whereas, the death of Martin Luther King was simply the end of a garbage strike and the beginning of the rise of Jesse Jackson. Not quite the same.

I was wrong, though, both about Milk Day and the holiday representing the death of Martin Luther King. I think my confusion might be understood if you realize that Martin Luther King was actually born on January 15th and not the day MLK is celebrated, so it made no sense, as is typical of most government actions.

I remember one particular MLK holiday, while I was working for The Big Alabama Bank and thus had the day off, I wandered over to the house of "Yo G" to talk to his father, "Big G". OK, so no one ever actually called him "Big G". But for the sake of consistency, and because I can't remember what I usually call him here on my blog, I'm calling him that from here on. Anyway, I went over to see Big G because he had my tie rod separator and I wanted to know if he was done using it. I found him sitting in the back of his garage with a friend of his, listening to the radio and drinking beer. He and his friend were a little drunk while the radio DJ was going on and on about Marthin Luther King Jr.

Big G is 60-something years old. He has lived in Redneckville, just outside of Memphis, his entire life. He lived here when Martin Luther King was marching around protesting. He lived here when Martin Luther King was shot here. He was even in Memphis on that day. He told me so.

I had almost expected him to tell me, as he was drunk enough to have the "Popeye" drunken wink thing going on, that he knew who actually shot him. Or that he himself had shot him. People often lie when they're drunk, in addition to telling things that they should not tell, and it can be hard to tell the lies from the embarrassing truths when you don't know the person well.

Anyway, he said "I remember when King was shot. You remember that?" And he turned to his friend, who nodded.

"Yeah, I remember. It was nothing like they make it out to be now," his friend responded.

"Yeah, it wasn't glorious or anything." Big G said. "He was here for a garbage strike."

"BWA HA HA", they both laughed together.

"A fucking GARBAGE STRIKE!" Big G went on. "And some idiot shot him. I guess it was that Ray guy. I don't know. But it was no Kennedy assassination. There was nothing glamorous or glorious about it. It was just a fucking garbage strike. And at the time, the FBI had been investigating him, because he had ties to communist terrorists in this country and was getting money from them. But of course, no one talks about that anymore. It's not politically correct."

He laughed some more while his friend swallowed another beer.

"They had pictures of him with some of his girlfriends, too," he went on. "He was a reverend, and he was sleeping around on his wife with lots and lots of women. When white preachers do that, it's a scandal. When black preachers do it, we have a fuckin' holiday to celebrate them."

"And when Bill Clinton does it," his friend chimed in "we call him our First Black President."

"BWA HA HA HAAAAAAA! That's TRUE!" Big G snorted. "Black people call him the first black president because he got caught fucking around on his wife! And they're PROUD of that!"

After awhile more of this, they began to wander off onto different topics as the DJ on the radio stopped talking about Martin Luther King and started playing music. I took my tie rod separator and went home.

I don't know how you would have reacted to what Big G and his friend had said. I do know how the Priestesses of Political Correctness would have ordered me to react. The fact is, I had no reaction at all. I honestly didn't care. These were two drunk white males whose only political influence or voice comes from the fact that they are members of a labor union and the AARP, neither of which represents their views, fights for their civil rights, or ever asks them what they think or want. Instead, both organizations just take their money and ignore them. This is the same thing that both major political parties do to me, and I don't even have to pay dues to them. I get screwed like that for free.

I suppose I am expected to have some deep philosophical thoughts about this day. After all, I'm blogging about it. The fact is, I don't. I have been trying to post something worthwhile on my blog for over a week now, with little success. Just this past weekend, I posted 4 or 5 different things, only to take them all down again almost immediately.

All I know about Martin Luther King Jr is what the PC Police taught us in school, and that isn't worth very much. And I guess I know what people who are old enough to have actually seen what was going on have to say about it. But even though most of these people are more than a little politically incorrect, their insights often aren't overly helpful either. I mean, they have a very different perspective, and that is of some value, I'll grant that much. But many of them apparently hated the man and as a result their views aren't very objective, no more so than the views of the PC Police who preach a myth of gods and goddesses whose motivations were only pure and noble and who never sinned.

History is hard enough to learn from when the truth is buried beneath foggy memories. But it's even harder when it's obscured behind hate and a political agenda that requires lying and manipulating the facts to hide the truth. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I suspect that the truth is, as is often the case with any political movement that has any success, Martin Luther King was a flawed man who saw an opportunity to do something which he believed needed to be done. Obviously a number of wealthy and influential people, whatever their reasons, decided to support him in his efforts, thus making it possible for him to carry on for many years in his endeavor. Whether right or wrong, he succeeded.

It also appears that just before he was shot some of the uglier details of his personal life, much like Bill Clinton's, were about to become public. Had this occurred, he may have been disgraced. He may have fallen from favor. His movement may have faded. Or it may have gone on without him. Or he may have simply stood defiant and said "my personal life is none of your business," again like Bill Clinton, and gone on virtually unaffected. No one knows. It doesn't matter though. Because he was shot and killed and as a result he is viewed as a martyr. His views and his goals were undeniably given a boost by his death and the resulting outrage. And his birthday is now celebrated by order of President Ronald Reagan, as an official holiday.

And still, every year when I flip my calendar over to January and see "MLK holiday" I think briefly to myself, "milk day?"

Got MLK?
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