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Friday, January 12, 2018

On Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK remains one of my favorite figures from recent American history. I admire and respect him a great deal, while recognizing he was a flawed human.  We are coming up on his birthday commemoration so I have decided to repost a piece I wrote about him in 2014.

January 21, 2014

The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day in the US; the TV and other media were full of stories about King and his times, and what it all means today. He has been compared to Gandhi and Mandela, become an icon for American "progressives," and, of course, a historical symbol of the nonviolent civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. He won the Nobel Peace Prize, almost every major American city has a thoroughfare named for him, and, as noted, we have a national holiday in his honor--making him and Columbus the only ones to have such holidays. Gunned down in 1968, at the age of thirty-nine, he left the civil rights movement to less capable and less visionary successors who undermined his legacy and his goal of a color-blind nation.

Was he a great man? He showed great courage, commitment to his cause, insistence on nonviolence, strong political and leadership skills, patriotism, and became a highly eloquent spokesman for civil rights. "I Have a Dream" is one of the great speeches in the English language. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" more than equals any Thoreau or Gandhi writings, and is not something that today's civil rights leaders, such as they are, could match, nor could the typical graduate of almost any university in the world today. (The letter's pacing, erudition, and, above all, the surgical preciseness with which it takes down opposing arguments bring to mind General Sherman's letter to the Mayor of Atlanta.) King's life made a difference to millions of people. The answer, therefore, to this paragraph's question is yes, he was a great man.

That said, serious problems exist with some of the narrative spun about King, in particular, and the civil rights struggle, in general. Part of the problem, of course, is that King died young, enabling others, as with the two Kennedy brothers, to fill in the rest of the story and use it to further certain political agendas. King died short of his fortieth birthday; had he lived longer, presumably he would have evolved and, possibly, become a very different man than he was when he died--we will never know. What we do know is that the Democratic Party and their "progressive" media and education machines have rewritten the history of the civil rights struggle. This was driven home to me some years ago while visiting a college campus. The students assumed King was a Democrat, and the segregationists confronting the peaceful marchers, and using fire hoses, snarling police dogs, and truncheons, and wearing white hoods were Republicans. They assume a Republican killed King--today's college kids probably believe the Tea Party had him killed. That the exact opposite is true, shocks many. King came from a staunchly Republican family--his father, a prominent leader in his own right--openly endorsed Richard Nixon against JFK in the 1960 presidential election. The Democrats had a one-party lock on the South. The party of slave owners and secessionists, had become the party of Jim Crow, school segregation, anti-miscegenation laws, poll taxes, and on and on.

Many Americans, not to mention foreigners, do not realize not only that the Republican party was formed in opposition to slavery and that Lincoln was a Republican, but that the famous Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, whose rulings dismantled the legal basis for segregation and put serious limitations on the power of police, was a former Republican Governor of California. It was, furthermore, war hero and Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who sent troops to Arkansas to enforce court-ordered desegregation at Little Rock Central High School. Congressional Republicans were the main supporters of civil rights legislation; their votes ensured passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, over the opposition of a significant bloc of Democrats--let us also not forget that Congressional Democrats for years blocked Republican efforts to pass federal anti-lynching legislation. All this, of course, is history, but an important chunk of American history that is being lost, distorted, or otherwise flushed down the memory sewer--along with the fact that anti-leftist J. Edgar Hoover proved the most formidable foe of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), an organization founded and staffed by Democrats, such as long-time Democratic Senator Robert Byrd.

Before I get back to King, let me address another issue that has been badly distorted and become something of a meme among the quasi-literate left. I refer to the idea that the parties have "switched places." This is something I have heard from some lefties who, knowing the true history of the Democratic and Republican Parties when it comes to race and civil rights, try to argue that that was then, and this is now. Since FDR or so, they argue the Democratic and the Republican Parties "switched" places on the race issue, with Republicans taking the role of protecting white privilege and keeping minorities, especially blacks, down. The truth is quite different. What happened was that the old party of slavers, segregationists, lynch mobs, and secessionists figured out that government programs and intervention were the means to deprive Republicans of a significant voter bloc. The aim was to keep black Americans dependent on the largesse of government and Democrat-run urban political machines. Anyone who doubts that should read the crude comment in which President Johnson revealed the real purpose underlying his massive social program expansion, i.e., to keep black Americans voting Democratic. The Democrats have succeeded admirably at this objective.

Back to King and the civil rights movement. By the time of his death, King was losing control of the movement. It was fragmenting. King's vision of a nonviolent effort was under assault by radical elements. The message of non-violence and concentration on individual liberty was losing attraction. The thirty-nine-year-old King seemed old, thundering out a message from another time. A new generation of black activists, inspired by the increasingly confrontational and violent atmosphere in the country challenged King for the spotlight, and found allies in violence in the largely white anti-Vietnam War movement. The civil rights struggle was becoming part of the noise of the very bad closing years of the 1960s, which saw bloody race riots shake nearly every major American city, and numerous incidents of domestic terrorism. In addition, what had been a largely grass-roots, private sector movement was being sabotaged by growing government involvement. Many black leaders were being syphoned off by government programs to "fight poverty." Activists increasingly focused on getting handouts to their followers rather than, as noted above, on King's more lofty, ancient-sounding focus on liberty, and the goal of having people judged not by their color but by the "content of their character." This new generation of government-oriented and dependent leaders did not fit in with King's conservative, Southern, church-based movement. They wanted racial turmoil, not racial harmony. We need also remember that Attorney General Robert Kennedy had put King under FBI surveillance, including the making of compromising tapes of King having extra-marital liaisons, providing the government excellent blackmail material against him.

All these factors, in my view, had begun to take a toll on King; he aged dramatically in appearance, and had begun talking about issues not directly related to the civil rights struggle, e.g., the Middle East, Vietnam. Had he lived longer, we likely would have seen King becoming radicalized, pushed leftward as he sought to retain control of the movement--but, as noted before, we will never know.

In sum, he was a great man with a great vision. His successors, many of them frauds of the first rank, largely have not been faithful to that vision of liberty and color-blindness, and we all have suffered for it.

18 comments:

  1. It was a noble cause. MLK towered over contemporaries such as JFK, RFK, and LBJ. Mind you, as a jazz fan I'm bound to point out that the music of American blacks flourished more in the pre-MLK era, at least to my taste. But then the arts flourished in Renaissance Italy under a variety of foul tyrannies, lay and clerical.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for re-posting that, Mr. Diplomad; I somehow missed it back in 2014.

    This is one of the most concise and accurate descriptions of the misinformation that so many young people of today believe that I've ever seen.

    The most terrible thing that the Left has done is to subvert our educational systems, with the result that a college graduate thinks the USA is a terribly bad, racist and unequal country, worse than most others; that Che Guevara was a principled fighter for freedom and democracy; that our founding fathers were racists; that the 2nd Amendment is about hunting; and all the other misapprehensions that you describe so well.

    Nowhere has their re-writing of history done more damage than in race relations.

    MLK was indeed a flawed man, but a great one. It's such a pity that his legacy is so twisted, and his wonderful message so distorted: today it's all about the color of someone's skin, and we had damn well better notice it! Character, alas, seems not to matter to today's racists of the Left.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Since FDR or so, they argue the Democratic and the Republican Parties "switched" places on the race issue, with Republicans taking the role of protecting white privilege and keeping minorities, especially blacks, down."

    I'm not Diplomad Sir, taking any exception whatsoever with the thrust of your post - rather I pray with my humble insertion to add to that thrust. Hopefully maybe, adding somewhat to a deeper appreciation of History.

    Everybody knows Arkansas' Faubus but, that was 1957:

    "During the summer and autumn of 1955, proponents and opponents of school integration across America were watching what Cabell Phillips of the New York Times called “a battle in a test tube.” The scene of the “battle” was Hoxie (Lawrence County), a small community in the northeastern part of Arkansas."

    http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=731

    "Most Arkansans supported secession, but some, especially in the northern part of the state, remained loyal to the United States. [...] In spite of the state having the third smallest white population in the Confederacy, more white Arkansans enlisted in the Union Army than in any other seceded state, except Tennessee."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkansas_Peace_Society

    My maternal Great-Great Grandpa was marched in chains down to Little Rock where he was given a choice - "Enlist or be shot." He later deserted at Shiloh and is buried under the Union flag at the national cemetery in Fort Smith.

    Northern Arkansas (with the exception of Fayetteville's immediate environs - where the University is today wouldn't ya know) held true and was where the 1960s era Winthrop Rockefeller (R) got his stronghold for the governorship.

    - Fellow Diplomad commentors I do apologize for us Arkianese foisting Bill Clinton on y'all but, we couldn't figure out any other way to be rid of him. -

    JK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couldn't figure out any other way to get rid of Boy Clinton? LOL!!!

      Delete
  4. Reckon I should've read further on the Encyclopedia of Arkansas site:

    "As was the case in other Southern states, Arkansas wasted little time in approving measures to disfranchise black citizens at the end of the nineteenth century. Using the “white primary” rule, the Democratic Party managed to effectively eliminate the black vote."

    http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=3079

    That "cinch it" Diplomad Sir?

    JK

    ReplyDelete
  5. Who killed MLK? Yeah I know who went to jail but did he even commit the crime and who was behind it?

    Another question; I understand that MLK attended classes in Cuba by Russian operatives to coerce him to help sabotage the U.S. True or not?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. False. If King had done so, J. Edgar Hoover would have found it out, and would have gone after King even harder than he did. Before the FBI went after the Klan, it went after the Civil Rights Movement.

      Delete
    2. "Who killed MLK? " Presumably the FBI.

      Who killed Kennedy? One amusing theory is that it was a Secret Service man who discharged his firearm accidentally in the panic caused by Oswald's shot.

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    3. Anon 10:33
      That was a serious questionMLK attended classes in Cuba by Russian operatives to coerce him to help sabotage the U.S. True or not?
      Your belief that the FBI would know so therefore it must not be true makes no sense. I have seen the picture of MLK in the class. In 1964 it was available publicly. So my question is valid, Was it a elaborate hoax/lie or did he attend classes in Cuba taught by Russian communists?


      As for the FBI killing him, that's just silly.

      Delete
    4. "As for the FBI killing him, that's just silly." Bless your little cotton socks, my child.

      Delete
  6. Dear Dip:

    Let me second what Eskyman said. This is a very well written, concise, history of MLK's participation in the civil rights movement prior to it being taken over by leftists for their own ends.

    Thank you for writing it, thank you for re-posting it. With your permission I will share it with email friends who do not read you.

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  7. There were quite a few communists around King in his last years. The Epstein books about Oswald are excellent reading and dispel a few conspiracy theories.

    I would like to know more about King's assassination but we will never know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. later years? https://www.archives.gov/files/research/jfk/releases/104-10125-10133.pdf
      this guy was inarguable a little shady.

      Delete
  8. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-6G6CZT7h4k

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=O-ZblMfZpuw

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  9. Well said, Noble Sir! It has long been my contention that the people of the 1960's Left will find the afterlife to be very uncomfortable.

    ReplyDelete
  10. A case of a movement not firmly anchored as conservative that eventually veers off leftward as all these things do. The left took it and kept it and own 90% of black votes today. Blacks have been re enslaved by yet more generations of white Democrats who have always found a way to do it. Often as now with the eager help of black people. The chains and trappings of one form of slavery have given way to identity voting, government handouts, government paper work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And handicap streamers from rear view mirrors.

      Delete