As thousands descended on Washington, D.C., for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's soul-stirring "I Have a Dream" speech, the sometimes inflamed, surprisingly uninformed rhetoric underscored the wide -- and seemingly growing -- racial schism in this nation.
Listening to some of the speakers, a reasonable person might surmise we have strayed so far from good sense and civility that we may never find our way back.
Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only African-American serving in the U.S. Senate, was snubbed. Heavyweights such as Jamie Foxx and Al Sharpton were invited and sounded, well, foolish.
Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, compared the Supreme Court's conservative majority to the Ku Klux Klan.
"Today, there are no white sheets, but there are judges in black robes in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates in many states to pass more voter ID laws ... with the goal of ensuring we never see a black man elected to the president, or woman, of the United States of America," she said.
Good grief. Not to be outdone, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley told the assembled the lives of "people of color" are valued less than those of whites in America. A Democrat and possible presidential hopeful in 2016 -- heaven forbid -- he says abolishing the death penalty, helping immigrants and jacking up the minimum wage will fix all that. Right.
When do you suppose "people of color" will finally catch on: The Left has bamboozled them for years.
Even thinking about bombing Syria before being absolutely certain that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his people in Damascus is repugnant. Activists in Syria say he did and as many as 1,300 were killed, but that number -- and the story -- is sketchy.
The problem is that -- as in Egypt -- there are no good guys in the Syrian fighting. Many rebels are al-Qaida allies -- and the Syrian government is no better.
As bothersome as our embarrassing lust to lob cruise missiles is the very real prospect of triggering a regional conflagration. What then? And despite President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's assurance that Syria is responsible, it would be nice to be absolutely positive.
There is plenty of time to blow up tents in the desert or kill anybody we need to kill after all the facts are in. Dead, after all, is forever. A few days would make no difference.
Recently confirmed Environmental Protection chief Gina McCarthy got to hear both sides of the Pebble story this past week in Southwest Alaska.
A mine will kill all the fish in Bristol Bay and destroy Native culture or provide desperately needed jobs -- depending on who was talking.
McCarthy's agency is toying with imperiously using Section 404(c) of the federal Clean Water Act to block Pebble development before the first permit application can be filed. That regulatory power has been used 13 times since 1980.
In Dillingham, McCarthy offered the anti-Pebble crowd hope.
"I intend to make you proud in the position the president has given me," she said to a standing ovation, the Anchorage Daily News reported. McCarthy, though, says she is open-minded.
So far, the EPA in its rush has botched its watershed assessment of the Bristol Bay region -- it did not even pass muster with its own peer review team. It used a hypothetical mine that would never have been permitted in Alaska, and outdated technology. A revision was ordered. It is expected by the end of the year.
There is no rush to judgment. Honest.
Next year's election gets curiouser and curiouser. Enter Brad Keithley. Or not. Depending.
Keithley is a lawyer, consultant and founder of Alaskans for a Sustainable Budget -- which Gov. Sean Parnell does not have. Asked about rumors he was thinking about running, Keithley said, "I seriously, seriously don't want to."
He said Parnell by December hopefully will come up with a sustainable spending plan, but if not, Keithley vaguely hinted, he might run, perhaps as an independent.
Somebody is paying attention. He was invited to speak Sept. 9 to the Anchorage Republican Women's Club -- but as word of his possible candidacy circulated he was disinvited, he said.
The governor's race -- as of now -- is expected to include Republican Parnell; Sen. Hollis French, a Democrat; and independent Bill Walker.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com.