Is Dr, King a major deity or merely a stellar figure? If this is a matter of some controversy to you, then I suppose you might be one of the members of the community of folks whose hands are trembling over the latest Obama-Clinton cat fight.
This unbearably shallow debate is the kind of racial shadowboxing that Democrats specialize in. Clearly, Clinton has offended some Civil Rights fashionistas by wearing her King Legacy Pin slightly askew. Obama has made it clear that he recognizes the opportunity for what it is, a chance to say he's more right by not having made any such fashion faux pas.
There's really not much else to it but that, although I imagine many commentators will ride the tangents into the depths of space. There's only one way this can get better, which is if the candidates 'go there'. But of course they won't - they can't. There is no real debate on race because there is no real controversy on race. There is no real racial policy in America, there are only people with good manners and common sense and there are people with bigotry in their hearts and minds. The latter group makes life tedious and outre for the majority of us, and occasionally unbearable for a few of us, but nobody should expect any candidate to do more than hire or fire a few attorneys at the EEOC, and then life goes on. You can bet neither of them will even say anything that specific. Instead we are all to imply that somebody is 'playing a race card' which essentially means nothing.
Now I know that as a black man, I am presumed to be extraordinarily sensitive to any racial impropriety. That's because I am heir to generations of victims and am thus some sort of victim myself. So goes the common wisdom. In America, I have the exclusive privilege to generate some extra measure of sympathy because of this. However, I personally choose not to exercise this privilege although I reserve the right to do anything that I deem appropriate to my character and reputation. For those black men who rise in social prominence in America, we are aware of the tradeoff. All Americans are invested in one way or another to whether or not such a privilege is invoked. Some want to see a certain amount of obeisance to the tradition of complaint as the politics of civil disobedience are invoked. Others want to see a certain amount of disregard to that tradition as demonstrative of a more powerful sort of agency. I make the distinction between the politics of civil rights and those of social power. Nobody should ever give up civil rights, but the agency of establishing and maintaining social power requires different tactics than those most familiar to Americans when they think of black politics, ie sit-ins, marches, and stentorian race baiting rhetoric.
Barack Obama cannot be unaware of this. If anyone wants a clue to understand how he is likely to react, then let this be a clue. He will assert his personal character and reputation according to assumed social power. In other words, he will do exactly what he did in Iowa - he will act presidential. He will not, under any circumstances be pulled in the direction which would intimate any extraordinary sensitivity or victim status. He will be a wall, and anyone thinking they can prick him into flinching will find their strategies backfiring. But such pricking, should it continue, will be met by a clench-jawed fury. Think Denzel Washington in 'Man on Fire'.
This is what I know about my generation of black men of substance. It applies to Obama in a particularly unique way because he does inherit another privilege of the common American wisdom. That is, as a black man with power in the Democrat Party, he has no explaining to do. As a Senator for Illinois, it is likely that he got more black votes to get him in office than did Michael Steele in Maryland as Lt. Governor, but not many more. Nevertheless it is presumed that simply because he is a Democrat he is the de facto leader of the black electorate. Given the chance, blacks would anoint him The One. In some ways, he walks in the shoes of Ron Brown, except that Obama is that much further along the curve, a cabinet post could be considered beneath him in America's mind. Any black Republican in an equivalent elected position would would have more explaining to do, although by the very same token of social power, they generally have not.
Aside from all that, an Obama Clinton catfight is entertaining for this Republican, and I'm hoping it becomes more vicious as time goes on. So here's to hoping they stop clawing and pull out more dangerous weapons that cut deeper into fleshy issues. There will be blood, I hope Obama doesn't get too much on his suits.