Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hey, It's National Brotherhood Week

The National Conference of Christians and Jews (which later morphed into the National Conference for Community and Justice, cleverly finessing the problem of changing their initials) once sponsored a week-long National Brotherhood Week, held generally during the third full week of February (cleverly cross-ruffing Lincoln's Birthday into the special week) from the 1940s through the mid-1980s.

The irony of the assassination of Malcolm X on the first day of National Brotherhood Week (cleverly landing also on Lincoln's Birthday) in 1965, inspired the Tom Lehrer song "National Brotherhood Week," and crystallized the state of race relations in the United States.

Lehrer--surviving today, well into his 80s--gave up on singing and performing his wickedly trenchant tunes in early 1970s. There is an urban legend that Lehrer gave up political satire when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger in 1973. He did say that the awarding of the prize to Kissinger made political satire obsolete.

It's hard to believe that this cabaret performance was even a little bit edgy. But the 1960s are light years from today's standard fare. Lehrer had an interesting and notable career in academia (mathematics) and musical comedy.


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Of the biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up ten blocks from Lake Erie in the (once Irish/Italian ghetto, now newly-hip) "Near West Side" of Cleveland. I can still cycle to the Milwaukee lakefront in an hour and a half; but, a round-trip has always been more than I would (noror ever did) attempt. -0- I'm a "...somewhat combative pacifist and fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). -0- I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay that portion of them dedicated to war). -0- And I always, always vote.