Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Charlie Pierce makes an importannt point about Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech:
As the president mounts the podium at the Lincoln Memorial today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's speech, we are reminded (ceaselessly) about one thing that Dr. King said in his address:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
There it is. That's the great loophole. It is an otherwise unremarkable sentiment given the context of the entire address, but, for the people who almost certainly would have lined up on the other side of the movement in 1963, it subsequently has been used as an opening through which all manner of historically backsliding mischief has come a'wandering in, from "reverse discrimination" to Allan Bakke, to what is going on today with the franchise in too many places, to the reaction to the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Modern conservatives have used that line to conscript Dr. King into their ideology, now that he's dead and unable to speak for himself. It's the only line in the speech that they remember.
It really is the only King line right-wingers remember, though they portray themselves as King's true heirs, while braying that his actual heirs and admirers are the betrayers of his vision.

Curiously, Jonah Goldberg didn't get the memo about King being a secret right-winger. Over at the L.A. Times, he acknowledges that King said other thing and believed other things. What's more, he's willing to admit that he and his fellow conservatives don't like the other things King believed:
Amid the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March for Jobs and Freedom, there was a recurring complaint: What about economic justice?

It is a source of enormous frustration among many on the left that Martin Luther King Jr.'s deservedly iconic status doesn't lend more support and credence to his economic ideas.

... Even after the march, A. Philip Randolph, its director and opening speaker received more coverage than King. Randolph spoke of civil rights, but he also emphasized more typical left-wing economic fare: "It falls to us to demand new forms of social planning, to create full employment and to put automation at the service of human needs, not at the service of profits."

... Many on the left have felt frustrated that this agenda, subscribed to wholeheartedly by King, doesn't share the same moral and political stature as King's dream of a colorblind society.

The frustration is understandable, but it stems from a fundamental confusion. As many have long noted, the genius of King's appeal to an ideal of colorblindness was deeply patriotic, rooted in the foundational principles of the republic....

But in America at least, appeals to social planning and guaranteed economic rights are not universal. They are, deservedly, controversial and contestable....

Today, conservatives, who were too often on the wrong side of civil rights in 1963, are champions of race neutrality, while King's self-appointed heirs are more inclined to champion the ideas that never spoke to the hearts of all Americans.
Give Goldberg credit for candor. Give him credit for being an honest enough conservative not to wrap himself in King's mantle -- on the fiftieth anniversary of the March -- and not to pretend that King was really just the first teabagger.

Goldberg thinks America shares his distaste for King's economic message -- and, alas, he may have a point (there certainly isn't much anger in this country about the increasing gap between haves and have-nots, even among the have-nots). But that's not something America should be proud of.

On the whole, Martin Luther King was on one side and conservatives -- then and (especially) now -- were on the other. At least Jonah Goldberg doesn't pretend otherwise.


Ten Bears said...

This is one hundred percent unadularated horese shit. Obama, like every other chicken-hearted cock-sucker since Carter, is about to launch his own chicken-shit little war and yo've let the white dogs rope you into a digression on the finer points of a fifty year old speech!?

Drink some more Kool-Aid, kids.

No fear.

Victor said...

The only credit I'll give to that lucky SOB, is if he wants to bet me his total annual salary that the NY Jets will win this years Super Bowl.

And then, I'll want that bet not only notarized, but the money put in an escrow account.

And I trust Jonah the Whale, about as far as I can throw him.

Philo Vaihinger said...

JG is far from the position of NR and its founder at the time.

WFB opposed every shred of the agenda in MLK's speech, and the man and his career as well.

Even into the new century he stood by his then view that white supremacy was just and defensible both in the American South and in South Africa.

For him it was thumbs up for legally mandatory segregation, private discrimination, disenfranchisement, and the like.

Anonymous said...

In his day MLK might have been able to 'shag for America at the Olympics', and he wasn't above cheating for his university doctorate, but at least he could deliver an eloquent speech with feeling. One would have supposed that Obama would at least try and reach MLK's standard but, no, all we saw was his head going left and right and left again as he switched autocues which reduced his 'speech' to a series of sub-clauses from long, long sentences about whose endings one lost interest after the fifth pause. The man is an 'A1 crasher'!

Steve M. said...

You're not fit to shine Martin Luther King's shoes, Duff.

Never Ben Better said...

Oh noes! Some black people having the nerve to seek profit from their intellectual property! How dare they!

Don't they know that only corporations have a right to such protections?

Dark Avenger said...

Duff doesn't believe in the sanctity of private property, if it involves black people in any way.

Steve M. said...

He also doesn't believe that the accomplishments of the civil rights movement in the '50s and '60s, against brutal opposition, are any big deal, because people like him certainly didn't get bugger-all from any of it.

But at least he's being honest about the fact that it would have been perfectly acceptable to him if blacks were second-class citizens in this country, de jure as well as de facto, forever.

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Dark Avenger said...

although it was a bit mean asking for money for your old Dad's words to be carved on *his* memorial, don'cha think?

I dunno, I think MLK Jr. would be glad that his words were providing some income for his family, as he left them little else in the way of material wealth. It was also more than having the words carved into the memorial, BTW.

Miniscule compared to other struggles for 'human rights', including a good many against my own dear country!

You sound like you're against your country granting any human rights. That's why you're a subject and not a citizen, subjects should have only those rights granted to them by the monarch.

"Any man's death diminishes me" but words matter!

Let's not forget Cromwells' "Kill the nits before they become lice".
You should be proud of that one, unless you're around any Irish people, of course.

I think you're out of your mind if you want to make this a comparison of brutality between two nations, but that seems to be exactly what should be expected from your twisted mentality.

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Steve M. said...

You know, I thought for a while that you were keeping it (barely) civil, and not trying to monopolize every comment thread like most right-wing trolls, and not just firing off outrageous verbal stink bombs just for the juvenile thrill of watching the reaction.

But you're just like every other persistent troll I've ever had here. And like the rest of them, you're banned now.