...is more like this guy, actor James Garner, who passed away Sunday at the age of 86. He was a man who was not afraid -- attending the now iconic 1963 March on Washington for civil rights, where this picture of him holding hands with actress Diahann Carroll was taken, even after the FBI called up Hollywood stars and begged them not to attend ("for their safety"...right). And who was not afraid to say what he thought. Check out this interview when he published his memoirs in 2011:
"Too many actors have run for office," he writes. "There's one difference between me and them: I know I'm not qualified. In my opinion, Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't qualified to be governor of California. Ronald Reagan wasn't qualified to be governor, let alone president. I was a vice president of the Screen Actors Guild when he was its president. My duties consisted of attending meetings and voting. The only thing I remember is that Ronnie never had an original thought and that we had to tell him what to say. That's no way to run a union, let along a state or a country."
Garner writes that he was asked to run for Congress in 1962 as a Republican, and "it didn't stop them when I told them I was a Democrat. …They just thought I could win." In 1990, Democratic leaders approached him about running for governor of California, but the discussion got to the issue of abortion and Garner says he answered, "I don't have an opinion, because that's up to the woman. It has nothing to do with me." The conversation pretty much stopped there.
Garner is what he calls a "bleeding-heart liberal," having participated in the 1963 civil rights March on Washington and later advocating for a number of progressive causes. He voted for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, he writes, but never cast a ballot for a Republican again. He voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1956, and calls him "the most intelligent presidential candidate we've ever had. I think Obama runs a close second."
Yes, the world needs some replacements for James Garner, and it also needs, in the words of the song, some love, sweet, love. One reason I posted this photo tonight is that it struck me as the antidote to the last week -- to the brute force and continuing stupidity in eastern Ukraine, to the non-stop killing in Gaza, to the haters blockading buses of refugee kids fleeing from violence, to the senseless police brutality that took place this week on a Staten Island street corner. It's hard to deal sometimes. For just a minute or two, I'd rather think of these two holding hands in the maelstrom, 51 years ago this summer.
Martin Luther King, who Garner and Carroll heard, famously, that afternoon in 1963, also said that "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." There's a lot that matters right now, so I guess I picked a hell of a time to take a few days of vacation . I'll be back next Sunday, so for better or worse I'll only be silent for a few days. In the meantime, feel free, as always, to use the space below to volunteer your thoughts and swap opinions.