A Facebook friend asked me to produce Stallionic Axiom #3 as promised long ago with after the creation of Stallionic Axioms 1 and 2. I would be happy to do so if I could remember what it was. I’m actually remaining purposely and blissfully ignorant of partisan politics, and I’m quite enjoying it. That makes for fewer blog entries, but it’s also necessary in light of many personal upheavals our family has undergone behind the scenes.
As my Facebook friends already know, my oldest daughter, code name Cleta, suffered a severe spinal chord injury on Valentine’s Day in a skiing accident. She is now walking again with the use of crutches, and she continues to improve. Still, any prayers and/or good vibes you could send our way would be greatly appreciated.
What has prodded me out of my blogging stupor is my intense visceral reaction to the fake MLK Jr. quote that had made its way around the interwebs. For point of reference, here’s the quote in question:
I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
Most of the quote is, in fact, Dr. King’s, but the first sentence, the one that seems eerily prophetic in light of bin Laden’s death at the hands of our armed forces, is the product of Jessica Dovey, an unknown grad student living in Japan. A celebrity saw the quote, loved it, and then reposted it to his 1.6 million Facebook followers, accidentally including Dovey’s introductory observation with the King excerpt.
The quote spread like wildfire. I personally saw it on no less than a dozen status updates, so I took issue with it before I realized it was bogus. Being an unrepentant curmudgeon, I have since called attention to the quote’s bogusness (bogusosity?) whenever possible to demonstrate that Dr. King was not speaking prophetically about the deserved death of the al Qaeda leader, but the quote keeps spreading. In one instance, a friend saw that I had debunked it, but she then said it doesn’t matter who wrote it, because it’s such a great sentiment. Then she proceeded to repost it as her own status update – still attributing the whole thing to Dr. King! I don’t know why this bugs me so much, but it does. Attributing the quote to a respected source gives it more weight than it deserves, but my intense reaction is fueled by much more than that.
The fact is that the quote sounds lovable but is actually loathsome.
If it were actually applied in real-life situations, the world would be a much fouler place.
Dr. King said everything but the first sentence of the Facebook mantra on multiple occasions, but with one slight variation. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate” is the version that made its way into the bogus quote, but elsewhere he stated instead that “returning violence for violence multiplies violence,” and therefore must be avoided in all circumstances, because it adds “deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
Imagine, then, the following scene:
“Hey, President Lincoln! Yeah, you! Abraham Lincoln! It seems the southern states are seceding from the union! Should we take up arms to make sure America remains united, and the scourge of slavery is removed from our land forever?”
“No way. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
“Oh. That’s deep, Abe. Deep. Thank you for sharing your status. I like. But what should we do instead?”
“War is not the answer. There has to be a better way.”
By golly, how many times have you heard that kind of crap?
“War! Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again!”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Actually, it was Edwin Starr who said that in a song later covered by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. But it’s OK to attribute deep, profound thoughts to Dr. King, because that makes them even deeper.)
War! What is it good for? Quite a bit more than absolutely nothing. For instance, I think a war that ended slavery was a pretty darn good idea, so that’s one point in its favor. Certainly war is not always the answer, but sometimes it’s the only answer, and there is no better way.
You may disagree with other wars, or specific wars, or whether war is the answer to a specific problem, but if you adopt Dr. King’s idea wholesale and reject violence in every circumstance, then you’re complicit in slavery, fascism, and every other vile scourge that could only be removed from the face of the earth at the end of a gun. You’re also a silent accomplice in every rape, theft, and murder that is prevented or punished by the use of violence.
“Officer, please stop this man from hitting me with that brick!”
“No way, lady! Violence multiplies violence. You don’t want a night devoid of stars, do you?”
You can rewrite that scenes above over and over again, maybe with Churchill and FDR decrying the night devoid of stars and letting the Axis powers run wild and enslave the world. In that case, violence didn’t multiply violence; it multiplied dead Nazis, liberated Europe, and saved the Jews from genocide.
That’s why this quote drives me crazy. Unlike Dr. King, I think a world where pacifists stand by and tacitly approve wholesale slaughter has oodles of nights devoid of stars.
Note: If you quote any part of this blog in any other forum, please attribute my remarks to Gandhi, John Lennon, or Languatron. Thank you.