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“Young orators’ tongues are formed before their minds are set”

Young orators’ tongues are formed before their minds are set. This happened to Martin Luther King, Jr., who had to inhabit a leadership position that he was not yet fully prepared to assume, as it did to Emma Goldman, an immigrant girl who became Red Emma almost before she mastered English. (In a more benevolent manner, it happened to Barack Obama—one eloquent speech turning him from a relatively green politician into a plausible Presidential candidate.) In each case, the challenge is to keep one’s independence, and one’s head, as others are trying to turn you into their megaphone.

Adam Gopnik, “American Prophet”, The New Yorker (15 October 2018), 78-79.