Day of Service or Day of Activism?

The Obama Transition Team latched upon the traditional National Day of Service that is Martin Luther King’s birthday and the fact that it fell on the day before the inaugural to call people to service. In their view:

This national day of service will fall on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 19, 2009 and, unlike past calls to service, President-elect Obama is calling on all Americans to do more than just offer a single day of service to their cities, towns and neighborhoods.  He is asking all of us to make an ongoing commitment to our communities. Never has it been more important to come together in shared purpose to tackle the common challenges we face.

Certainly a noble gesture, and the use of technology to engage people in service was certainly an interesting effort. However, Riley at Virginia Virtucon reveals that, in at least one instance, the system was used for means that were perhaps a bit more politically charged than originally conceived:

It seems that the Three Virginia Dem Stooges who are running for governor — Creigh “Dirty” DeedsTerry “Global Crossing” McAuliffe, and Brian “Don’t Call Me Jim” Moran — as well as Jody “Financial Fantasyland” Wagner are helping PresidentBarack Obama to redefine what constitutes “volunteer service.” 

From the People’s Weekly World:

In response to Barack Obama’s appeal for volunteer service on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Jan. 19, hundreds of union members and their allies marched on the picket line at the National Airport Hilton Hotel here.

“Check out, not in,” chanted the picketers as they marched in a circle in the chill evening darkness outside the hotel.

Obama’s inaugural web site had listed the picket line as one of the King birthday public service events and many union members in Washington for Obama’s swearing in the next day crossed the Potomac to join the embattled hotel workers.

For proof, here is the original listing on While the Presidential Inaugural Committee is not an official government entity and they are funded by private donations, unionization would seem to be the sort of issue one would not want to touch during a day designed to inspire the whole of America to public service, regardless of red or blue.

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