By Irene F. Starkehaus -
I am struggling with a growing concern that Martin Luther King Jr. will one day be viewed by the Left as an enemy of the Civil Rights Movement instead of one of its forefathers. This wisp of a Philippian twist has been gnawing at me for some time with little concrete substantiation to back it up, but last week's snark treatment of Darius Rucker during Rockefeller Plaza's tree lighting ceremony has strengthened the theory enough in my own mind that I think I may be on to something.
More on Mr. Rucker in a minute.
There's something about the hollowness in modern day progressivism's chosen muses that leads me to believe that race activists will ultimately devour their heroes to keep the beast of enmity strong. The Left's strident movement toward disingenuousness notwithstanding, I can foresee a time in the not too distant future when "I have a dream that one day my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" will be categorized by agents of the race industry to represent words spoken by an insufferable Uncle Tom.
I wonder how long it will be before MLK is seen as someone who was not down with the struggle. Especially for this part of Dr. King's momentous I Have a Dream oration:
"But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."
Dignity and discipline lead to success and success is the best way to silence one's critics. So it has been with Darius Rucker. You remember him. Darius Rucker is the former lead vocalist for Hootie and the Blowfish:
(And somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, I have an odd, nebulous recollection that he was also an "Up With People" singer, but I can find no evidence on Wikipedia or Biography Online to back up the memory, so let's file that under the "I could be total wrong" tab for now.) Rucker continued on after Hootie as a solo R&B singer and is now navigating a successful career in country music. He was recently invited to the Rockefeller tree lighting ceremony to offer his rendition of White Christmas.
Seems innocent enough – you know, pretty straight forward in terms of rungs up the success ladder– except for three trifling matters that add up to one big headache for Darius Rucker's manager.
Problem one – for the last ten or so years, the song White Christmas has been the absolute bane of race activists who increasingly point to it as a symbol of America's inherent racism…you know, because it has the word "white" in it.
Please refer back to my earlier discussion about the Left's strident movement toward disingenuousness. And no, I don't think it would help to point out that the "white" in the song refers to snow which is, in fact, white or that it has nothing to do with Caucasians who are, in fact, pink, peach, café au lait, or olive colored. (Which we would only fail to notice if we were judging them by the stereotyped color of their skin rather than the content of their character. But maybe Caucasians all look the same to the White Christmas haters?)
Problem two - the night of the tree lighting ceremony happened to coincide with a protest over the New York grand jury decision regarding Eric Garner who died during an altercation that occurred when he resisted arrest. It was where all African Americans of any notoriety were expected to be unless they were too invested in the riots of Ferguson, MO to attend or contractually obligated to play a football or basketball game. In that case, writing "I can't breathe" on one's gym shoes was the pop culture equivalent of a note from one's parents.
Problem three – Forgive me for judging him by the color of his skin in this instance, but Darius Rucker is (in case you haven't surmised by now) an African American. Did the lights just dim?
I don't know if Darius Rucker defines himself by the color of his skin. I don't know if he considers himself a liberal or a conservative. I don't know if he believes that he is a lucky victim or a successful, blessed, living embodiment of the American Dream or even all of the above. I only know what I've seen of him over the years.
He sings beautifully. He has a wonderful, soulful baritone voice that many listeners admire. If we are to judge this man, let it be for that. There is absolutely no reason that he should be receiving so much blowback for singing a cover of White Christmas, which – at the risk of being seen as pedantic and repetitive, is a song about snow…not Caucasians.
Here's a bit of music trivia for you. Did you know that Darius Rucker was asked by Old Blue Eyes himself to sing at an event that honored Frank Sinatra's 80th birthday? Yes…yes, he was. He sang The Lady's a Tramp which perhaps feminists can use as empirical evidence against him if he happens to sing a cover of Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon on the same day that Lena Dunham is offering an anti-rape seminar.
Hmmm. And correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Frank Sinatra once sing White Christmas? Well, there you go. The plot thickens.
Rucker came from humble beginnings and worked hard to be the success that he is today. He has done a lot of work on behalf of American war veterans. He is the first country music singer to have his first three singles reach No. 1 since Wynona Judd in 1992. He earned a standing ovation at the Grand Ole Opry and has two Grammy Awards for the work he has produced over the last 20 something years.
His politics are irrelevant. All that matters is that he was given a gift and he has used it well. What he has done with his gift speak for itself. If he faced any racism along the way, it didn't stop him from succeeding. He is that every-child to which Martin Luther King Jr. was referring in his landmark speech on August 28, 1963. Darius Rucker offers a small fulfillment of I Have a Dream by living the life he wants to live and performing the music that he wants to perform where he wants to perform it and when he wants to perform it and giving back to the world on his own terms. For that he is vilified for not obeying the ill-defined rules on genuflection before nihilists that have been placed before him. Seems like we do have a long way to go before men and women will be judge by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
Or maybe that's exactly what he is being judged on. Maybe Rucker's greatest sin in the eyes of the Left is this:
Side note - You know what? That's kind of a catchy tune. I wonder why I'm not hearing it on all these Chicago radio stations that are dedicating themselves to Christmas music until December 25th. Probably too worried about keeping John and Yoko's So This is Christmas or Madonna's Santa Baby on heavy rotation, huh? Wouldn't want to appear too God-focused at Christmas time, now would we.