Letter: Message of Martin Luther King Jr. is being distorted


Invoking Martin Luther King Jr. in the name of “colorblindness” is one of the most cynical and deliberately offensive racist talking points, which is probably why it’s one of the most common.

There must be a sadistic pleasure in saying it. Ironically, to the extent that it convinces anyone, it’s only because conservatives already keep so much history out of schools.

The most recent example in the letters to the editor section comes from Erick Wilcox, who wrote, “If we wish to live in a color blind society as Martin Luther King wished us to, there is no place for the grouping of individuals based on skin color and the projection of labels upon them for the purpose of social reorganizing.”

He adds that we should all be afraid of the communist menace and read a book about it. He’s against critical race theory, and we know a major conservative objection to that is the risk of making white people feel guilty.

How ironic.

Here’s what people should know about MLK and conservative talking points:

MLK was against communism because it’s atheistic, but the FBI smeared him as a communist, much like Mr. Wilcox is trying to smear everyone he disagrees with today.

While Mr. Wilcox warns against Marxism turning us into “social classes that oppose each other,” in 1968 MLK said “In a sense, you could say we’re involved in the class struggle.” He also said the following, two years earlier, “You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism.”

MLK was very much in favor of shaming white people, writing in 1957 that, “The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but noncooperation and boycotts are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.”

By 1963, he placed the blame squarely on “white moderates,” saying, “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the negro to wait for a ‘more convenient’ season. Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

MLK was explicitly in favor of race-conscious policies. When asked if he supported them in 1965, he answered, “I do indeed. Can any fair-minded citizen deny that the negro has been deprived? Few people reflect that for two centuries the negro was enslaved, and robbed of any wages — potential accrued wealth which would have been the legacy of his descendants. All of America’s wealth today could not adequately compensate its negroes for his centuries of exploitation and humiliation.”

And, of course, conservatives murdered MLK for saying these things.

The difference between now and then is that today’s racists lack the decency for shaming to even work on them.

Michael King

Oak Harbor