January 20th, 2014

Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day

{NOTE: This is a slightly-edited reprint of a previous post.]

I have some trouble with the hagiography of Martin Luther King. I agree that he was a great man who did a great thing for which he should be duly honored: he was an inspirational figure in the non-violent civil rights movement in this country, as well as a remarkable speaker.

The two, of course, are related. It was his personal quality of leadership, and what George H.W. Bush might rightly call “the vision thing,” that enabled King to bring together so many people to peacefully demonstrate in furtherance of a lofty and necessary goal, that of ending discrimination against blacks in this country.

As for the rest of it—well, I think it can be summed up by saying that King was a flawed human being—that is, a human being. Perhaps MLK himself would be the first to agree; he was a preacher, after all, and he knew a lot about human sin and error. It’s pretty much certain he was a philanderer as well as a plagiarist, and in later life he seemed to veer ever more leftward (some think that’s a feature, not a bug).

Does that diminish his achievements? I don’t think so, if we keep it in perspective. I’ve always been more interested in real human beings who accomplish great things despite their own weaknesses than I am in a pretended (and mostly unachievable) perfection.

[NOTE: One thing that's long amazed me is that King was so young when he was assassinated. At the time I thought him a man in his 50s, but he was actually a mere 39 years old. If he were alive today, he would only have just turned 85 yesterday.

There's a lot of speculation on what King would have thought of current trends had he lived. I'm no expert on everything the man wrote and said, but it's my impression that although he seemed to be in favor of some sort of reparations---which he did not limit to blacks, by the way---he would not have backed affirmative action or gay marriage. However, people do change---as I know only too well.]

14 Responses to “Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    King and Malcom X were assassinated. I would theorize that Nation of Islam and other black power found out these individuals wouldn’t submit and obey, as the Black Caucus has obeyed.

    Malcom X may or may not have said this, but there was a phrase attributed to him where he said that King’s march to DC only succeeded because of Malcom X’s threats of force against the white regime.

    Threats of force do work against DC, as we have seen with Islam, but I’m unsure how much effect it had on the views of politicians. Robert KKK byrd didn’t seem to be intimidated.

  2. London Trader Says:

    While I wouldn’t ordinarily recommend anything at Daily Kos I thought that this was a good piece on the achievement of MLK.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/29/1011562/-Most-of-you-have-no-idea-what-Martin-Luther-King-actually-did

  3. kit Says:

    The national holiday for George Washington, the father of this country, was removed and replaced.
    It was replaced by MLK Day and Presidents’s Day, which means that great presidents like Washington and Lincoln now share a day with the likes of Obama. Not in my world!

  4. Mr. Frank Says:

    MLK is the only person for whom nearly all schools close. That tells children he was very important. Many years ago children used to get Washington’s birthday off and some got Lincoln’s birthday off. There was also a holiday for Christopher Columbus. One can only conclude that MLK was the most important man in the history of the U.S. I’d put Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Lincoln ahead of MLK.

  5. Richard Aubrey Says:

    As to plagiarism; I suggest the line between research and plagiarism can be fuzzy and when you’re doing religion for your subject, brand new ideas aren’t all that welcome. So you’re retailing what others have said anyway.
    Cut-and-paste is different.

  6. Don Carlos Says:

    And there’s an entire month for Black History. What history is recorded? Uhh, mostly slavery since 1600, written mostly by un-blacks.

  7. Parker Says:

    I like to believe MLK was all about the freedom of the individual…. each of us should be judged without consideration of the degree of melanin of our skin. MLK was not a perfect human being. We are all members of that group.

  8. jvermeer Says:

    MLK appealed to Americans to judge on the “content” of character. Yet almost immediately after the 1964 civil rights act was passed, virtually the entire civil rights, liberal and Democratic establishment sought, and got, a cancerous stew of preferences and quotas. It seems naive to believe that that wasn’t always their objective and equally naive that MLK didn’t deliberately lie to get what he wanted. And when one group of citizen’s relationship with the rest of society is, “yes we lie, try and do something about it”, how can any civil culture other than a mean, vicious and bitter one be expected?

  9. Ymarsakar Says:

    It seems naive to believe that that wasn’t always their objective and equally naive that MLK didn’t deliberately lie to get what he wanted.

    He needed to be alive to lie about things. Fortunately for the Left, he wasn’t.

  10. Conrad Says:

    MLK was instrumental in ridding the South of Jim Crow, which was a huge accomplishment. However, once the Civil Rights Act passed and the legal landscape changed for blacks, then the focus of the movement shifted into the economic sphere. Unfortunately, blacks in general, and their leaders in particular, took to supporting all manner of statist policies that have produced an excess of government dependency and, indirectly, a host of social pathologies.

    Had King lived, he most likely would have been a part of the leftist tide. Possibly, he would have come to oppose it, but I doubt very seriously he would have been able to stop it.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    Possibly, he would have come to oppose it, but I doubt very seriously he would have been able to stop it.

    King was already attempting to criticize and stop the socialist economic policies after he saw their effect on blacks. That’s why they killed him. You can’t come to oppose something when you’re dead, after all.

    And no, he wasn’t able to stop it.

  12. westie Says:

    The best roundup I’ve read on MLK’s economics & ideologies; “Martin Luther King (MLK)…and His Communist Affiliations” … http://chasvoice.blogspot.com/2011/10/martin-luther-kingking-of-america.html

  13. Ymarsakar Says:

    Most of the black community had already spent 30 years being infiltrated by Leftists and communists. Read School of Darkness by Bella Dodd.

    Their front runner intellectuals proposed communist economic policies as the solution, because they believed it. It had yet to be tested because of Jim Crow, though.

    Unlike most people, MLK did the one thing he could not be forgiven for. He began to reject economic policies of the Left because they were destroying the black family and neighborhood. Even after the civil rights victory, the effects were beginning to be seen, so readily, so immediately.

    America has been infested with communists to be the point where FDR and half of the population can be readily deemed enemies of America, while being Americans. Including so called conservative firebrands and defections as Horowitz.

    People talk about Communism as if it just happened in this past along this one segment of time. No it did not. America itself, was built on communism and communal principles. The power. The wealth. The federal reserve notes. The military expansion. The Pilgrims avoided communist mass death by switching their economic model and with the help of Indians like Mass. in Thanksgiving. The rest of us probably will have a more difficult time now that the virus has had time to incubate.

    Most sources of propaganda are incomplete, since the best propaganda is 99% truth, 1% deception. The full story is never told, for good reason. Only humans with free will are allowed access to the full story.

  14. Tim W Says:

    Neo, I disagree: the public MLK and the private one were very, very different — behaviorally, morally, even theologically. I’m a huge fan of the public MLK — the private one, not so much. But the problem is that in the long run, such people tend to “evolve” into their true identities.

    For example, concerning same-sex marriage, why would a man who regularly cheated on his wife at hooker-fueled orgies be overly concerned about (say) preserving the Christian definition of marriage? Like Clinton, he’d only adopt such a position as long as it was publicly popular.

    That said, I hope I’m wrong, and that jvermeer & Ymarsakar’s belief — that MLK was actually deeply concerned about the black community — would have moderated his leftward trajectory. But the pull of the leftism is powerful — e.g. Jessie Jackson was willing to abandon his pro-life beliefs (which I believe he held sincerely at the time) when they became unpopular.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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