"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Today America also honors the memory of one of the most inspiring women of the 20th century, Rosa Parks. (Applause.) Fifty years ago, in Montgomery, Alabama, this humble seamstress stood up to injustice by refusing a bus driver's order that she give up her seat for a white man. Her show of defiance was an act of personal courage that moved millions, including a young preacher named Martin Luther King. Rosa Parks' example helped touch off the civil rights movement and transformed America for the better. She will always have a special place in American history, and our nation thinks of Rosa Parks and her loved ones today.
A touching sentiment, to be sure, and sounding all the right notes ("humble seamstress, "injustice," "give up her seat for a white man," "Martin Luther King," "transformed America," blah, blah, blah), but it sounds a little pale to me. In fact, as I wracked my memory trying to recall exactly what it sounds like, it suddenly hit me - it sounds like a junior high essay, cribbed from the encyclopedia. Strictly "C+" work.
So I thought maybe the President's fixers would tart it up for him a bit, filling in some blanks after the fact. Turns out, not so much:
Q Scott, two quick questions. Remembering Miss Rosa Parks. Then in 1955 it was like Mahatma Ghandi in South Africa, same thing happened to him. And during her time, there was very little or not many immigrants in the U.S., but today we have millions of immigrants from all over the globe. What message do you think President will have today as far as civil rights moments --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President just spoke about her passing a short time ago in his remarks to the spouses of our military officers from all the branches of our military. And the President talked about what a remarkable women she was, and how courageous she was. She is someone who changed America for the better. She is an inspiration to generations, and we mourn her passing.
Well - then I thought maybe Pickles would be the point-person on this one, since she's the bookish one in the family and all. She's someone, surely, who could add the telling personal detail, the mere drop of sincerity that would demonstrate that, at the very least, someone in the White House took this event seriously enough to craft a competent talking point. So, then - what did the First Lump have to say about the passing of Rosa Parks? Just this:
Q And lastly, you're talking about these at-risk youth reaching their potential and their promise. And there's someone who just passed away, Rosa Parks, at the age of 92, the mother of the Civil Rights movement, who sat down against injustice on a bus for everyone to be able to reach their potential. Your thoughts, and the President's thoughts about the life of Rosa Parks.
MRS. BUSH: Well, Rosa Parks is such an inspiration to me and to millions of people in our country and around the world. And what she did was a simple act, an act of dignity. That's really what she is, she's a dignified woman who realized she didn't have to go to the back of the bus. And what she did made all the difference for all the people who came after her. And it was just a beautiful, simple act. And all of us can take lessons from that, we really can. We can think about our own individual acts, the smallest ones and how they can make a difference. If we treat people with dignity, if we treat ourselves with respect and dignity, we can make a big difference for our country and world just like Rosa Parks did.
Well, thank goodness Laura at least has a different encyclopedia.
You can see that on September 4th, to mourn the death of the Chief Justice, Mr. Bush ordered United States flags to half mast.
Where is the Presidential Proclamation on October 25th?
Rosa Parks received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the nation's highest civilian award, in 1999. There is supposed to be a protocol when American heros are laid to rest.