Friday, January 10, 2003

Today I was volunteering at my son's first grade class. Somebody had "donated" some computers and the teacher needed somebody to set them up; I say "donated" with scare quotes because they were Hong Kong knockoff 486SX computers from the mid-1980s, complete with 5 ¼" disk drives. One was a Pentium 133 MHz and I poured all my energy into it, trying to remember if I had some old programs stashed away somewhere that would run on it. It was sad.

As I labored, the teacher (a wonderful woman, by the way) was talking about Martin Luther King, Jr. She was quizzing the kids about what things Dr. King wanted everyone to do to make this a better world:

"He wanted everyone to love and not hate." (OK, fair enough)
"He wanted people to judge other people by who they are, and not by the way they look on the outside." (Unless, say, you're applying to the University of Michigan, or maybe you're an Egyptian traveling first class with no luggage.)
"He wanted people to use their words to solve problems and not fight." (And if they continue to threaten you and/or fail to comply, you should…talk more. And write resolutions. And make emotional pleas. Then write some strongly-worded missives. Start economic sanctions which will starve everybody except the person you've got the problem with. Draft more resolutions.)

My next thought was a vague dread that January 20th – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – will be a 24-hour media event for people like Jimmy Carter, Barbra Streisand, and Jesse Jackson. For them, there's no threat so grave to warrant military action, and the day will be a self-righteous festival of Bush-bashing, folk songs, and moral equivalence. One week later Hans Blix will deliver his report to the U.N. Security Council about the search for weapons of mass destruction, and American realpolitik will come back into focus.

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