The day in which we honor the late Martin Luther King often for me brings to mind a brief experience I had way back in the late 60's/early 70's.
Back in that day many of my generation were inspired to protest the Vietnam War and actively support other noble causes, and I was no exception. I was motivated by high ideals --- and the desire to meet girls and encounter generous fellow protesters packing really good dope.
And in this respect I was hardly alone.
One cold winter's day several of us traveled to Washington to participate in a march opposing the Vietnam War. There were large numbers of young counter-cultural types everywhere around us, and at a distance in which opera glasses would have been helpful was a speaker who might as well have been singing opera for all I was able to muster my freezing ears to hear.
"Do you know who that is?" I asked a freaky looking guy on a nearby blanket whom I hoped would answer my question in conjunction with the act of handing me a humongous joint.
"Oh, yes," he said "that's Loretta Young."
For those of post Baby Boomer years, Loretta Young was an elegant and somewhat straight-laced actress primarily of the 30's and 40's who in the 1950's starred in an elegant and somewhat straight-laced television program called, oddly enough, The Loretta Young Show.
"What on earth had happened to Loretta Young?!" I wondered. "Did someone lace her tea sandwich with very potent acid? Had she been auditing courses at MIT taught by Noam Chomsky? Was she going to burn her bra now in front of us all?"
"It's not Loretta Young," said a bearded gent also sitting around the blanket.
"No?" I said. "Well, who is it?"
"It's Coretta Scott King."
No, it wasn't lifelong Republican Loretta Young that we were craning our ears to hear but rather the widow of the greatest Civil Rights leader of all time. Since then, I've called this syndrome Loretta Young Politics.
There were certainly true believers back in the day and many who were sincerely committed to the cause. But others of us were not always so sincere as to get all the facts straight or do all the work required on our way to having the fun.
Loretta Young Politics are of course not unique to the 60's or 70's or to any age group in particular. I'm sure there are folks today talking about racism, climate change, or income inequality who not too long ago would have hopelessly confused Bernie Sanders with Colonel Sanders. And maybe even come to a political rally expecting complementary fried chicken!
We should all strive for an educated electorate sincere in the issues each one of us advocates. If we're honest, however, many of us will fess up to having practiced Loretta Young Politics now and then. It's probably human nature; few are immune.
But any disrespect to Miss Young aside, let's do our best to keep her back in 1950's television and out of today's politics.
Get back, Loretta!
Oh, and what of the real Loretta Young? Perhaps she wasn't so straight-laced after all. It has been subsequently learned that she had a love child with fellow actor Clark Gable. For at least one brief moment, it seems she really did let her freak flag fly!