Monday, August 15, 2011

An Epic Fail From the Peanut Gallery: Tea Party GOPers Defend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Honor When President Obama "Dares" to Channel His Memory

And now that King has his own memorial on the Mall I think that we forget when he was alive there was nobody who was more vilified, nobody who was more controversial, nobody who was more despairing at times. There was a decade that followed the great successes of Birmingham and Selma in which he was just struggling, fighting the good fight, and scorned, and many folks angry. But what he understood, what kept him going, was that the arc of moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. But it doesn’t bend on its own. It bends because all of us are putting our hand on the arc and we are bending it in that direction. And it takes time. And it’s hard work. And there are frustrations.

In a recent fund raising speech in New York the President evoked Dr. King and his prophetic vision. As with all matters related to Barack Obama some on the Right are using that moment to vilify the President. No surprise.

But, there are at least two interrelated issues that warrant exploration.

One, how do we locate President Obama relative to Dr. King? Given that the former is a corporatist and quite center Right in his politics, I would think the comparison on policy matters is a bit of a stretch.

Second, who "owns" Dr. King's legacy and vision? This one is a bit more complicated. On one of my favorite black garbage pail kids black conservative websites, we were having a little go around where the one and only Cobb, enabled by his white conservative feces slinging supplicants, wanted to suggest (as he often does) that the Right is "colorblind" and somehow Conservatism "gets" King's vision on race "correctly." Although I clearly disagree with the priors, Cobb did however hit on an interesting question: Why do some folks become almost apoplectic when Conservatives try to claim Dr. King?

I offer the following answer.

Overlooking the overt racism and racially resentful politics of the Tea Party GOP, as well as the tons of evidence from political psychologists and others that Conservatism is linked to authoritarian personality types, and thus racism is a natural outgrowth of those traits, a claim that contemporary Conservatives are invested in Dr. King's radical vision just strikes me as dishonest. He was vilified by the Right in his own lifetime. If Dr. King's vision on poverty, race, social justice, and health care were offered today, he would be driven out of the town square and tried in absentia by the Fox News Tea Party GOP cabal.

Because Dr. King is an American icon all parties want to own a piece of the action. That reality leads to an almost inexorable flattening and oversimplification of history where Conservatives can claim one part of the "I Have a Dream Speech" for example, to in turn argue against positions that King would have actually supported.

I typically want to dismiss such moves by Black Conservatives, Glenn Beck, and others as predictable and uninteresting. One cannot expect an ideology that in practice is prefaced on anti-intellectualism to be at all rigorous. Yet, in the Age of Obama those inversions of history have started to bear fruit. Thus, they must be treated more carefully.

The Right has with great skill moved moved the political terrain in their favor, shifted the language used to discuss politics and policy, created parallel sources of "information" from "think tanks" whose only purpose is to advance a far Right ideology (regardless of the facts or science on a policy issue), and created an alternate media and professional propaganda wing that subverts the role and responsibility of the Fourth Estate in a democracy. The sum effect of these elements is that the foot soldiers of the Tea Party GOP actually mistake thin, specious, politically oriented opinions for rock solid, concrete facts.

And as I argued here, because the Tea Party GOP and their faithful are ideological cultists on every almost issue from climate change, to the separation of church and state, to the economy, facts and reason are subverted by faith. In short, it is true because they say so. The mainstream media enables these delusions because they exist in a marketplace and cultural moment where all opinions, however ridiculous, are framed as being equal, and consequently worth reasonable discussion and attention.

The Right's response to Obama's speech on Dr. King is one more of those moments. As I often do, here is the peanut gallery in all of its glory. The mouth breathers of the Right defend King against Obama, and by doing so dishonor the former's memory, through their own twisted lens of history as it relates to the present.

Take special note of both their basic misunderstandings of history and fact, and the mental gymnastics needed to make it all cohere.

****

Chuck, a vet August 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Remember Dr. King very well.

First of all, he was an American and a Patriot! He did not want a socialist welfare state, nor did he substitute his loyalty to this Country for anti-American interests.

He was not a redistribution of wealth fanatic, but really wanted a level playing field. Most of all, his goal for all was a real policy of “a hand up”, not “a hand out”. Big difference.

For this guy to compare Dr King to himself is like throwing a rose into a pile of fertilizer. (Which is the only thing that was really “shovel ready” in this administration).


Dan August 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Obama is not even close to MLK. First and foremost MLK was willing to die for his beliefs, Obama can’t even make a decision that might result in him being a one term president.


Luke August 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm

How dare he compare himself to MLK, MLK gave people freedom and Obama is taking peoples freedom away.


JoeKidd August 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Americans are citizens of The UNITED States of America — not Obama’s divided states of America.

They belong to one race: The HUMAN race.

And under their skin, they bleed ONE color.

Now Obama may think he can get that color to run in the streets — he has been busy stirring his pot of Hate — but he’s wrong! You only separate colors when doing wash.


Hmm August 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Martin Luther King Jr was not known for hating the United States of America – try again, Mr. Obama. Martin Luther King Jr was not known for promoting divisiveness – try again, Mr. Obama. Martin Luther King Jr was not known for encouraging dependence on government handouts – strike three, you are out, Mr. Obama.


StopGovtBondage August 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Barry compares himself to a lot of important and successful people: Abe Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and now Martin Luther King Jr.

Thing is – Barack Obama has earned nothing – there are NO ACCOMPLISHMENTS…..his positions have either been Affirmative Action, or positions have been purchased or politicized….nothing has ever been based on merit.

And with the chip on his shoulder regarding successful people – Obama is now tearing the country apart with his class warfare……MLK – I think not.


wrongagain August 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Biggest difference would be everyone loved Dr. King. Dr. King worked to ensure everyone was judged based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. You have decided skin color tells you all you need to know.


Susan August 13, 2011 at 11:19 am

All this talk of August vacations has me wondering. Do you ever take a vacation Keith? Love coming to your blog each day to get an unfiltered view of what is happening in DC, and you are always here. Thank you for what you do.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a Republican. He believed in non-violent resistance, just like us Tea party advocates. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That is one of the quotes Obama had weaved into the oval office rug. It was actually Theodore Parker, an 1800′s abolitionist and not MLK who originally said those words. Too bad the progressives stole that quote and twisted its meaning. I’ll bet neither Theodore Parker nor MLK thought those words would one day be used to justify Obama’s version of social justice and redistribution of wealth.


srdem65 August 13, 2011 at 10:43 am

MrO should hang his head in shame to compare his travails to those of MLK or to imply that his agenda is the same as RevKing’s.
RevKing never once called his many opponents “enemies” or called for their punishment, he never ridiculed anyone to further himself, but instead, prayed for a day when all would be judged by their character, not the color of their skin.

12wlw12 August 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm

How dare that flea compare himself to Martin Luther King! He is no more than the dirt beneath King’s shoes!. We all shared King’s dream and prayed some day it would happen. Of course there are, and always will be, those with hate in their hearts, on both sides who will not give it up. But remember this, it was not only blacks marching with Rev. King. His dream was to bring America together.. Obama and his ilk have almost destroyed everything MLK stood and fought for… the unmetigated gall of that ‘person’ comparing himself to such a great man… He has no shame!!


Susan August 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm

O’BUMMER HAS NOTHING IN COMMON WITH MLK! MLK WAS A REPUBLICAN AND NOT A COMMUNIST SOCIALIST, TRYING TO TURN OUR COUNTRY IN THE WRONG DIRECTION! I WISH MLK WAS HERE TODAY, HE WOULD START THE MOVEMENT AGAINST OBAMA!


pilgrimsjog August 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm

“I have a nightmare that one day the sons of former slaves will sit at the table of victimhood, screaming at the sons of former democrat slaver owners, under the big tent of the democrat, progressive, slave party. Cause there ain’t no party like a democrat slave party. Git yo victim on and git paid. That’s why we vote for ‘em! To git back wages for picking democrat cotton!


kitman3 August 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm

MLK was not a social justice advocate he believed in individual redemption not collective redemption.
Personal responsibility was his creed.
Progressives are so desperate to reelect our socialist-in-chief they will lie and distort MLK for their own use.
Progressivism = Totalitarianism
The “ONE” is DONE
The “O” has got to GO

Ron August 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm

MLK wanted a world where people were judged by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin.

Obama, through his racist actions, and support of affirmative action, racial quotas and setasides, has proven that he wants to judge blacks based on the color of their skin, and NOT the content of their character.

What hasn’t Barak Hussein lied about?


Carl Spackler August 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

what the H is the “arc of moral universe?” And is it ironic or fitting that his metaphor of morality is taking something straight and bending it?


jack prong August 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

the only people who vilified dr. king were your fellow democrats, barack. dr. king was a card-carrying republican. your fellow democrats started and operated the ku klux klan from the civil war forward to today. dr. king did not lay down his life so guys like barack obama could peddle snake oil socialism. he died in a quest to get others recognized for their character and their individual rights not so you could start up a super-plantation in the united states called obamaville.


Johnny B Good August 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Dr King stood up against white racists and black racists and remains as a national hero to people of all skin color. BHO thinks that anyone who disagrees with him is automatically a racist. BHO and his mindless minions use racial fear like a teleprompter to accomplish their sad agenda.

marg1 August 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

King calmed the stormy waters. Obama creates chaos everywhere he goes.

What an arrogant jerk obama is. Delusional, manipulative, and dangerous for the entire planet.

How ’bout them drones he’s playing war with? And doing it all on his own without Congressional approval. Congress should impeach him, and the Nobel Committee ought to be screaming to get their Peace Prize back.

6 comments:

Ankhesen Mié said...

because the Tea Party GOP and their faithful are ideological cultists on every almost issue from climate change, to the separation of church and state, to the economy, facts and reason are subverted by faith. In short, it is true because they say so. The mainstream media enables these delusions because they exist in a marketplace and cultural moment where all opinions, however ridiculous, are framed as being equal, and consequently worth reasonable discussion and attention.

Bingo. Americans have adopted (and spread) this attitude to that uninformed, unqualified, strictly-speaking-from-personal-opinion [mainly white] people are magically qualified to discuss complex social issues which they've been conditioned from birth not to understand. You've got these clueless twits running their mouth on the nets refusing to defer to anyone and seriously believing they could run the country if simply given the chance.

As for those comments you posted...*shudder*. Drone-speak at its finest.

chaunceydevega said...

Are you sure? You don't mean that we aren't all experts whose words and insight are of equal value? Damn democratization of knowledge and those Internets!

weird beard said...

CD, you know I encounter this a lot, hordes of people chanting the same angry vitriole that at face value is demonstrably false. I wonder if the folks posting comments like these know that they are full of it, or if they actually ingest the diahrea flowing from their mouths as nutritious and wholesome truth. It's like the whole birther thing. It absolutely blows my gourd that this type of mentality rabidly sweeping about 15% of the populus has taken the steering wheel of the country and given it a tug. It's one thing to have a few dunces in the corner spouting Tea gibberish, but when folks who are running for the highest office of the United States, and clusters of elected officials making decisions about the future of our country begin mouthing this madness... I'm scared. This is the WWFing of the U.S., I see brother Love and the Mouth of the South putting heavy influence on the direction of America. Why is Boss Hog getting legitimate air time and being considered a serious presidential candidate? Is this the twighlight zone? Where are the adults here?

chaunceydevega said...

@weird beard. Cool name. You are reading my mind. There is something I have saving on just that point.

Plantsmantx said...

Because Dr. King is an American icon all parties want to own a piece of the action. That reality leads to an almost inexorable flattening and oversimplification of history where Conservatives can claim one part of the "I Have a Dream Speech" for example, to in turn argue against positions that King would have actually supported.

Ah yes, that one. It's as if they think he didn't speak or write anything else aside from that one passage from that one speech.

These people reveal a couple of things about themselves when they articulate their interpretation of that passage- first, they think MLK was calling for blacks to disband as a people. Secondly, they feel that acknowledging someone's blackness is the same as judging them harshly, because after all, blackness deserves to be judged harshly.

Here's an early version of that passage, from a speech at the AFL-CIO convention in 1961"

This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality

That's much less open to misinterpretation.

Plantsmantx said...

Oh yeah, this:

Mr. Obama. Martin Luther King Jr was not known for encouraging dependence on government handouts –

Do they really not know that he called for a government-provided minimum income for all Americans?