My blog entry about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., posted yesterday, has thus far earned me accusations of “sophistry,” “racism,” dishonesty, sympathy for segregation and slavery, ideological alliance with the Ku Klux Klan, and having led a “little,” “arrogant,” and essentially worthless life.
Such responses have fascinated me, since the point that I was making was simply that flawed people can, despite their failures and failings, be great — and that Dr. King, whom I admire in very many ways, was genuinely great. I thought it an appropriate tribute on a day meant to commemorate his legacy. Some have disagreed, which is fair, but the intemperate and often personally insulting quality of their disagreement has been striking.
Here’s the kind of thing that I had in mind: I’ve always been impressed by this quotation from Lorenzo Snow, who, as a young man, lived in the Smith household and observed Joseph Smith at close hand:
“I saw the imperfections in [Joseph]. . . . I thanked God that He would put upon a man who had those imperfections the power and authority He placed upon him . . . for I knew that I myself had weaknesses, and I thought there was a chance for me. . . . I thanked God that I saw these imperfections.” (President Lorenzo Snow, private journal entry, quoted in Neal A. Maxwell, “Out of Obscurity,” Ensign [November 1984], 10.)
My post ended, yesterday, with a refusal to pronounce final judgment and an expression of hope for mercy from a merciful Heavenly Father. That wasn’t just window-dressing. And I explicitly included myself in that hope for mercy,
Incidentally, the coincidence probably means nothing, really, but it’s noteworthy to me that Joseph Smith and Martin Luther King lived to almost precisely the same age, and that both were cut down by gunfire from cowardly bigots.