Sunday, May 01, 2005

historical education #772

Then something weird happened: Nixon, in his acceptance speech, started talking like Martin Luther King. Mailer was the first to notice it, but this was not just one of his famously eccentric imaginings. Nixon, who also adopted the SDS's two-fingered peace salute, never put limits on what he could co-opt. Martin Luther King in the four months since his death had journeyed from rebel agitator to the heart of the American establishment. His organization was picketing outside the convention hall. Six miles away, Miami was having its first race riot. The governor of Florida was talking about responding with necessary force, and black men were being shot. Richard Nixon was delivering a speech.
"I see a day," he repeated nine different times in the unmistakably familiar cadence of "I have a dream," Then, further on in the speech, seemingly enraptured with his own or whomever's rhetoric, he declared, "To the top of the mountain so that we may see the glory of a new day for America..." (Mark Kurlansky, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World, 267)

The horrible subtitle should be warning enough for anyone even vaguely tempted to buy this book, but that particular passage does seem useful enough.

No comments: