Monday, January 21, 2019

The state of MLK Day 2019

On this MLK Day, perhaps it's time we took a step back and re-examine some issues. First, to all the Republicans and other conservatives that love taking phrases from King's speeches and writings out of context to promote their own political philosophy -- stop it! When Mike Pence gets up and quotes MLK and then goes into a tirade as to why a wall on the southern border is needed, he is being more than intellectually dishonest.

For those of y'all too young to remember, conservatives (regardless of their party affiliation) were strongly opposed to Dr. King's message. They were opposed to the black students who sat down at lunch counters across the South. That was rabble rousing, they would say. They disapproved of marches and protests. They blamed it on those damn radicals. They fought school desegregation and found new ways to perpetuate it in the suburbs thanks to white flight. Mainstream liberals went off the rails when Dr. King came out against the Vietnam War.

To have someone as reprehensible as Mike Pence whitewashing the words of Dr. King makes me sick. To use the words as a justification for a program that would promote further discrimination against Latinos angers me.

But all the white conservatives will pipe up about non-violence - even though the police continue to shoot unarmed black men and women across this country. They will talk about our colorblind society - even though we have a criminal (in)justice system that discriminates against the poor and people of color.

And, at the same time, they will continue to support the NFL's blackballing of Colin Kaepernick for the outrageous "sin" of protesting against police violence against black folk. His protest was peaceful. Yet somehow he can't find a spot as a quarterback even while teams are signing players who can't hold a candle to his achievements or potential.

The entire discussion around Colin Kaepernick distills the issues Martin Luther King, Jr., brought to the nation's forefront. Kaepernick did exactly what conservatives want - he protested peacefully. But that wasn't enough. You see, it's not the type of protest that conservatives care about -- it's who's protesting. Colin Kaepernick's biggest "sin" was being black and taking a stand.

Thanks to the climate of hatred whipped up by political leaders in the 50's and 60's, Dr. King was struck down by an assassin's bullet at the age of 39. He was silenced because he spoke out.

And sadly, because we live in a country that worships capitalism and consumerism like religions, his memory has been largely commodified and used as a reason for yet another sale.


Mark said...

You are wrong regarding those who opposed blacks sitting at lunch counters. Those were Southern Democrats known as Dixiecrats.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

The southern democrats who opposed the Civil Rights movement were conservatives -- the very ones that defected to the GOP in the 70's and early 80's. While the democratic party has a shameful history when it comes to its support of slavery and Jim Crow, it is the modern republican party that has supplanted it as the party of white supremacy. Today's republican party is doing its damnedest to restrict the right to vote, to protect the re-segregation of public schools thanks to white flight and to water down the Voting Rights Act.

The republican party ran on a platform of blatant racism and white supremacy in 2016. Today we have the descendants of the dixiecrats - the modern day republican party - fighting to protect monuments to those who fought to preserve slavery.