Monday, January 21, 2008

In Praise of Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King Day is one of the least celebrated holidays in existence. That is too bad, since the man’s life is well worth celebrating. It is a pity that liberals have made him into a blank slate with which to project anything they want, as King was a remarkable man and deserves better.

Most people remember King primarily for his “I Have a Dream” speech. It is, of course, a wonderful speech, but has (perhaps unavoidably) obscured other remarkable accomplishments. King was much more than an outstanding orator.

King spearheaded the widespread use of nonviolent resistance in America, which had previously been employed rarely. Starting with the Rosa Parks bus boycott, (which King was very much involved in, and ended in a Supreme Court decision outlawing segregating public transportation), King eventually became head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The SCLC played a extremely significant role in the peaceful (on the black side, at any rate) protests across the South. (King was later forced out of the leadership of the SCLC by dirt dug out by FBI wiretaps authorized by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. So much for the Democrats being unequivocally committed to the cause of civil rights).

King was also responsible for the 1963 March on Washington (where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech), the Selma to Montgomery march, and spread the equal racial rights message to the North. The civil rights blacks enjoy today would probably not exist as they do without the influence of Martin Luther King.

In addition, King was an impressive writer, something that seems little remembered to today. He wrote an essay called “What is Man?”, in which he examined man’s place in the universe. (Summary here). His Letter from Birmingham Jail is a very good examination of whether or not it is moral to disobey unjust laws. In the course of this piece, King quotes Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine to prove that his course of action is justified. It is still worthwhile reading today.

In addition, King is the youngest man ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. (Although that somehow doesn’t mean as much today as it might have then). King lived a remarkable life, and is should be more than a Democrat invocation for all their racial policies.

Liberals use the memory of Martin Luther King as justification for nearly all their racial policies. King, of course, can’t speak for himself, but Democrats are willing to speak for him. Most of their positions, such as affirmative action, were never endorsed by King. (In fairness, however, he did support slavery reparations).

Every dynamic young black Democrat is compared to Martin Luther King. (Barack Obama, of course, is the latest). Presumably, King would have been overjoyed to see a black Supreme Court Justice and a black Secretary of State, but somehow Clarence Thomas and Condoleezza Rice are never mentioned as living fulfillments of King’s famous dream. And given the Democrat parties gratuitous use of his name as an endorsement of their policies, it seems hardly worth pointing out that Martin Luther King was actually a Republican. It is sad that King’s inspirational life has been turned into a Democrat talking point.

It is even sadder that forty years on, we still have not realized King’s dream. Blacks can now get a job anywhere. Nobody calls them “boy” anymore, and the “N” word can get you fired. Legalized discrimination is nonexistent. But blacks as a group are far worse off than they were forty years ago.

This is due, in large part, to the machinations of the Democrat party. Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democrat. What have they gotten? The popularization of the term African-American, a few scattered affirmative action programs, and host of over budget, underachieving federal programs.

The Democrats have a very profitable strategy to get the black vote. They promise more federal funding, accuse Republicans of insufficient concern for black issues, and blame the problems in the black community on racism. It is a clever plan, and it works.

A quarter of blacks live in poverty. A great many are in prison. Many members of the black community are in dire straits—and they will get no help from the Democrats. They will simply put the blame on the latent racism assumed to exist in white America, and enjoy the benefits of the black vote.

The problem isn’t racism. There are a great many factors, but the primary reason blacks struggle with poverty is drugs. They will get no help from Washington. It is much easier and more convenient to campaign against almost nonexistent racism.

But Washington prefers not to tackle the drug problem, which is an extremely complex and difficult job to tackle. Why should they? The effects of drugs are limited to inner cities, where few vote anyway. Maybe blacks are being slaughtered in disproportionate numbers there (and it will get worse as Hispanic gangs such as MS-13 move in), but why bother with an expensive government response when it won’t gain any votes? The strategy Democrats have now is working fine.

The “soft bigotry of low expectations” (which is an astonishingly well-crafted phrase coming from a man who once asked “is children learning?”) also plays a role. Democrats (and to be blunt, some Republicans) don’t expect blacks to perform well. This is evidence in the elevation of Al Sharpton to the de facto National Black Spokesman. Nobody would give an white person of Sharpton’s caliber that opportunity.

I believe that Martin Luther King’s dream will eventually come to pass. But until Washington stops viewing blacks as permanent, helpless victims, it will be a, long, uphill climb.


At January 21, 2008 at 9:22 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Then you have influential blacks like Oprah stumping for a Democrat.

At January 22, 2008 at 11:48 AM , Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

it seems hardly worth pointing out that Martin Luther King was actually a Republican...good point !!

At January 22, 2008 at 1:58 PM , Blogger steveh46 said...

"(King was later forced out of the leadership of the SCLC by dirt dug out by FBI wiretaps authorized by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. So much for the Democrats being unequivocally committed to the cause of civil rights)."

Do you ever check your facts before you write? You should.

Dr. Ralph Albernathy became the president of the SCLC after Dr. King was murdered. Dr. King was never "forced out of the leadership of the SCLC."

"it seems hardly worth pointing out that Martin Luther King was actually a Republican."

It's not worth pointing it out because it's not true.

"In 1960, King was arrested for trespassing during a sit-in and held in Georgia's Reidsville prison. Fearing for his son's life, Martin Luther King Sr. appealed to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to secure his release.

“When King was freed, his father vowed to deliver 10 million votes to the Democrat, even though Kennedy was only a reluctant supporter of civil rights. That began four decades of black people voting for liberals.

“The younger King voted for Kennedy, and for Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson four years later. In that election, King publicly denounced the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater."

Controversial Ad Links MLK, GOP
By Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 19, 2006; Page A04

Also Dr. King’s warm words about democratic socialism would seem to indicate he wasn’t much of a Republican. “There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

"Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democrat. What have they gotten?"

You mean other than an immense drop in Blacks below the poverty line (55.1% in 1959, 22.7% in 2001), a huge increase in educational attainment (only 21.7% with a high school degree in 1960, 72.3% in 2000; only 3.5% with a bachelors degree in 1960 compared to 14.3% in 2000), and improved health (average life expectancy at birth of 63.6 years in 1960 compared to 72.2 in 2001, a far greater improvement than in white life expectancy during the same time period)?

On the other hand, you want to talk about unsuccessful drug policy, go right ahead. Drug policy in the US is exceedingly stupid and counter-productive.

At January 22, 2008 at 3:30 PM , Blogger Daniel Ruwe said...

Steve, responding to your criticisms:

1. King wasn't forced out of the presidency of the SCLC, but according to Wikipedia, he was forced out of his preeminent leadership position. I possibly could have made that more clear, but my point stands. Kennedy and Johnson wiretapped King, and it hurt him.

2. King was a Republican. That is a fact.

3. I'm not sure that most blacks think that black people as a whole are doing particularly well. The end of segregation obviously helped, but the years since haven't been good. If you consider rampant drug use, high teen preganancy rates, and high poverty compared to general public sucesses, that's fine, but I think things should be a lot better, and I think a good deal of the blame should go to the Democrats.

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