Advertisement

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Fundamental Transformation of America

On this 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, even the self-avowed apostles of “individualism,” “liberty,” and “limited government”—i.e. “conservatives”—can’t resist lavishing endless praise upon its author, Martin Luther King, Jr.

As uncomfortable as it makes these declared enemies of Big Government to think it, to say nothing of openly admitting it, the stone-cold truth of the matter is that King was nothing if not a man of the hard left.

Michael Eric Dyson, a King admirer and hard leftist himself, makes this point unmistakably clear in his, I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Blasting away at the “the conservative misappropriation” of King, Dyson shows, not that King would have supported much of the left’s agenda, but that he in fact did do so.  For starters, King resoundingly endorsed what is today called “affirmative action.”  King insisted that “the nation must not only radically readjust its attitude toward the Negro in the compelling present, but must incorporate in its planning some compensatory compensation from the handicaps he inherited from the past.”

Advertisement

Moreover, King envisioned a redistributive scheme that he characterized as “massive.”  “I am proposing,” King remarked, “that, just as we granted a GI Bill of Rights to war veterans, America launch a broad-based and gigantic Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged, our veterans of the long siege of denial.”

Interestingly, King eventually came to think that his earlier belief that American institutions could be “reformed” was a mistake.  Rather, because America was “born in genocide,” “racial hatred,” and “racial supremacy,” nothing less than “a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values” was demanded.  After all, “a nation that put as many Japanese in a concentration camp as” America did during World War II will think nothing of putting “black people in a concentration camp” as well.

Advertisement

This “revolution of values” that he desired King called “democratic socialism.”

Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, “the plight of the Negro poor” had actually worsened.  What many view as his two signature achievements King viewed as “at best surface changes.”  Only a “redistribution of economic power” could rectify the injustices that King believed were rooted in “the system” of “capitalism” itself.

Today, many Americans still resent Jane Fonda for her activism during the Vietnam War.  But King was as vocal a critic of America’s presence in Southeast Asia as Fonda ever was. The war was “senseless,” “unjust,” and “racist,” he insisted.  Moreover, King, whose voice even at this time was no less influential than that of Fonda’s, described America as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today [.]”

Advertisement

There is one final detail concerning this icon that enriches the irony of “Reagan conservatives” doing their best to transform King into a one of their own: King despised Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Rarely did he publicly criticize his opponents—or anyone—by name, but, such was his contempt for Reagan that King made an exception in his case.  “When a Hollywood performer,” King stated, “lacking distinction even as an actor, can become a leading war hawk candidate for the presidency only the irrationalities induced by a war psychosis can explain such a melancholy turn of events [.]”

King deserves to be credited for both combating state-ordered segregation as well as his impassioned defense of non-violence.  Yet if conservatives and libertarians are to maintain their credibility, they must resist the temptation to turn King into one of their own.  He was a man of the hard left who called for the fundamental transformation of the United States long before Barack Obama called for the same.

Previous Posts

Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder (TTSD): An Analysis of "Trump-phobia"
To the plethora of mental illnesses in this mental illness-ridden age of ours, we can now add another. We’ve all heard of PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. During this past year, something we can call TTSD has emerged. TTSD is ...

posted 8:18:43pm Apr. 29, 2016 | read full post »

The Fake Morality of Political Correctness vs. The Real Thing
That a senator from Vermont, a 74 year-old man who has spent his professional existence on the taxpayer’s dime and who is a self-avowed “socialist,” has managed to become an exceptionally popular Democrat presidential contestant is ...

posted 9:33:02am Apr. 29, 2016 | read full post »

Gary Johnson: A Free Trade Bernie Sanders?
Another insightful essay by guest blogger, Myron Pauli: I’ve never limited myself to Republican and Democratic nominees since I cast my first Presidential vote writing in Barry Goldwater in 1972. No regrets on rejecting the decent but ...

posted 9:37:46pm Apr. 21, 2016 | read full post »

Missing "Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism"
George Hawley, a professor of political science at the University of Alabama, supplies an invaluable service to students of American politics with his recently published book, Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism. All too rarely do we ...

posted 4:22:29pm Apr. 13, 2016 | read full post »

Groupthink in Academia
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured an article lamenting the lack of “diversity” in my discipline. Philosophy, so goes the article, just hasn’t been welcoming toward minorities and women. Thankfully, such enlightened ...

posted 9:50:04pm Apr. 08, 2016 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.