“Nothing beside remains [r]ound the decay of that colossal wreck . . .”

Roger Ailes. You CAN fool some of the people all the time!

Roger Ailes. You CAN fool some of the people all the time!

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert… Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings,
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

     (—“Ozymandias,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1817)

If I had the courage of my convictions—who on earth has that?—I’d be writing a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Every person who has any kind of second-class-citizen status in this country (including all women, all LGBT persons, and everyone whose ancestors did not come from Northern Europe) owes King a debt of gratitude for showing it’s possible to change society’s mind.

Lloyd Blankfein. You CAN steal from all the people all the time.

Lloyd Blankfein. You CAN steal from all the people all the time.

Our national tragedy today is that King (or his moral heir) is not here to lead the movement (the uprising?) of the poor (increasingly what we used to call the middle class) against the politicians, Roger Ailes, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs (and Lloyd Blankfein), Alice Walton, and the Koch brothers. Someone to lead people like the deluded Tea Partiers to understand that they are feeding directly into the power of the oligarchy they think is somehow going to save them but which is, by definition, designed to destroy them.

Because I am one of the lucky ones who will be dead before David Koch, Karl Rove, and Alice Walton have completed their strangle-hold on America, I’ll resist the temptation to write about or give the honor due to Martin Luther King, Jr. With my stodgy old opinions, I could hardly honor him, anyway, and what good would it do?

When Shelley wrote his sonnet in 1817, I’m pretty sure he meant Ozymandias to stand for the rich and powerful. Today, we would do better to think of him as a metaphor for the American people who have given away, forfeited in the vain hope of getting richand staying “secure”our power and our freedom. If it were not so trite, one might well ask, “Where is Martin Luther King, Jr., when we need him?”

There’s an old Victorian hymn that, in spite of its quaintness and sentimentality (and its squarely, boringly Anglo-Saxon music), was one of my father’s favorites. I’m not quite sure why because it doesn’t mention Christian theology. My dad simply thought the people were worth saving. I think Martin Luther King, Jr., would have understood. “When Wilt Thou Save the People?” Is anyone asking that question now?

Boy, do I sound like a stuffy, old fashioned, grouchy, holier-than-all-the-rest-of-you old man. Mean-spirited, too. Not at all in the tradition of MLK. I know. Sorry.

Alice Walton. Trying to fool all the people all the time can make you very unhappy.

Alice Walton. Trying to fool all the people all the time can make you very unhappy.

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