Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Politically Charged Funeral - Coretta Scott King

With over ten thousand in attendance and millions more watching on television, the country paid tribute to Coretta Scott King's life today. The current and all former President's of the United States, except Gerald Ford, were in attendance and spoke of how her life effected so many people in this world. While this service was designed to highlight and celebrate the life of Mrs. King, some of the speakers seemed more interested in trying to use this occasion for political gain, rather than to focus on the life of a great woman.

I saw the same type of shameful behavior when Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash several years ago. Rather than remember the life of a good man that fought for things he believed in, some speakers at Senator Wellstone's funeral tried to use that occasion as a political rally to get out the vote for their party on election day. Whether it be a powerful senator or an icon like Coretta Scott King, I think all politicians should leave their political beliefs at the door and focus only on the person that is being eulogized.

The worst offender at the funeral celebration today was former President Jimmy Carter. He took this occasion to draw attention to the problems that have faced the Bush administration in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He made a racial case that people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were not treated fairly because of the color of their skin. While his comments might be 100% true, it was rude and insensitive to use the funeral of a great person like Coretta Scott King to make a political statement.

I believe President Bush's statements at this funeral were very heart warming along with wonderful words of praise and tribute spoken by former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. For a man of the south, President Carter seems to have forgot about manners and how important they are to regular folks that call the southern part of the United States home. When Democrats in Minnesota turned the Paul Wellstone funeral into a political event, I believe it ultimately cost them that election. It was viewed by most people as political opportunism and was in very bad taste considering the man had only been dead a few days when they were already trying to use his name to further their own political agenda.

There was a brief news clip I heard today that said when Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered, the current President nor any former ones attended his funeral. When you compare those days with what happened today at the funeral for his wife, the world has come a long way and still has a long way to go before all people are treated equally. I have always thought that Dr. King was the best public speaker in the history of the United States. When I listen to him on tape delivering speeches that were made over 30 years ago, most of the time tears will come into my eyes because he had the ability to take the written word and make it come alive with his wonderful speaking voice.

I hope in the future that politician will be able to leave their petty comments at home when a renowned person like Coretta Scott King dies. Our country should be better than that and even if we are not, at least leaders and former leaders should show a little more respect when they are asked to speak at a funeral in tribute to a great person.

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