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Martin Luther Ling

Martin Luther Ling

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Published by Hal Shurtleff

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Published by: Hal Shurtleff on Jan 21, 2012
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12/01/2012

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Myths of Martin Luther King
byMarcus Epstein
There is probably no greater sacred cow in America than MartinLuther King Jr. The slightest criticism of him or even suggesting thathe isn’t deserving of a national holiday leads to the usual accusationsof racist, fascism, and the rest of the usual left-wing epithets not onlyfrom liberals, but also from many ostensible conservatives andlibertarians.This is amazing because during the 50s and 60s, the Right almostunanimously opposed the civil rights movement. Contrary to theclaims of many neocons, the opposition was not limited to theJohnBirch Societyand southern conservatives. It was made by politicianslike Ronald Reagan andBarry Goldwater , and in the pages of 
Modern Age, Human Events, National Review
, andthe
 Freeman.
Today, the official conservative and libertarian movement portraysKing as someone on our side who would be fighting Jesse Jackson andAl Sharpton if he were alive. Most all conservative publications andwebsites have articles around this time of the year praising King anddiscussing how today’s civil rights leaders are betraying his legacy.Jim Powell’s otherwise excellent
The Triumph of Liberty
rates Kingnext to Ludwig von Mises and Albert J. Nock as a libertarian hero.Attend any IHS seminar, and you’ll read "A letter from a BirminghamJail" as a great piece of anti-statist wisdom. The Heritage Foundationregularly has lectures and symposiums honoring his legacy. There arenearly a half dozen neocon and left-libertarian think tanks and legalfoundations with names such as "The Center for Equal Opportunity"and the "American Civil Rights Institute" which claim to modelthemselves after King.Why is a man once reviled by the Right now celebrated by it as ahero? The answer partly lies in the fact that the mainstream Right hasgradually moved to the left since King’s death. The influx of manyneoconservative intellectuals, many of whom were involved in thecivil rights movement, into the conservative movement alsocontributes to the King phenomenon. This does not fully explain the picture, because on many issues King was far to the left of even theneoconservatives, and many King admirers even claim to adhere to principles like freedom of association and federalism. The main reasonis that they have created a mythical Martin Luther King Jr., that theyconstructed solely from one line in his "I Have a Dream" speech.In this article, I will try to dispel the major myths that the conservativemovement has about King. I found a good deal of the information for this piece in
 I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther 
Page 1 of 6Myths of Martin Luther King by Marcus Epstein1/17/2012http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/epstein9.html
 
 King 
by black leftist Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson shows that Kingsupported black power, reparations, affirmative action, and socialism.He believes this made King even more admirable. He also dealsfrankly with King’s philandering and plagiarism, though he excusesthem. If you don’t mind reading his long discussions about gangsta rapand the like, I strongly recommend this book.
Myth #1: King wanted only equal rights, not special privileges andwould have opposed affirmative action, quotas, reparations, andthe other policies pursued by today’s civil rights leadership.
This is probably the most repeated myth about King. Writing on National Review Online, There Heritage Foundation’s MatthewSpalding wrote a piece entitled"Martin Luther King’s ConservativeMind,"where he wrote, "An agenda that advocates quotas, counting by race and set-asides takes us away from King's vision."The problem with this view is that King openly advocated quotas andracial set-asides. He wrote that the "Negro today is not struggling for some abstract, vague rights, but for concrete improvement in his wayof life." When equal opportunity laws failed to achieve this, Kinglooked for other ways. In his book 
Where Do We Go From Here
, hesuggested that "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him,to equip him to compete on a just and equal basis." To do this heexpressed support for quotas. In a 1968 Playboy interview, he said, "If a city has a 30% Negro population, then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30% of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas."King was more than just talk in this regard. Working through hisOperation Breadbasket, King threatened boycotts of businesses thatdid not hire blacks in proportion to their population.King was even an early proponent of reparations. In his 1964 book,
Why We Can’t Wait 
, he wrote, No amount of gold could provide an adequate compensation for the exploitation and humiliation of the Negro in America downthrough the centuries…Yet a price can be placed on unpaidwages. The ancient common law has always provided a remedyfor the appropriation of a the labor of one human being byanother. This law should be made to apply for American Negroes. The payment should be in the form of a massive program by the government of special, compensatory measureswhich could be regarded as a settlement in accordance with theaccepted practice of common law.Predicting that critics would note that many whites were equallydisadvantaged, King claimed that his program, which he called the"Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged" would help poor whites as well.This is because once the blacks received reparations, the poor whiteswould realize that their real enemy was rich whites.Page 2 of 6Myths of Martin Luther King by Marcus Epstein1/17/2012http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/epstein9.html
 
Myth # 2: King was an American patriot, who tried to getAmericans to live up to their founding ideals.
In
 National Review
, Roger Cleggwrotethat "There may have been a brief moment when there existed something of a national consensus – a shared vision eloquently articulated in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "IHave a Dream" speech, with deep roots in the American Creed,distilled in our national motto,
 E pluribus unum
. Most Americans stillshare it, but by no means all." Many other conservatives haveembraced this idea of an American Creed that built upon Jefferson andLincoln, and was then fulfilled by King and libertarians like ClintBolick and neocons like Bill Bennett.Despite his constant invocations of the Declaration of Independence,King did not have much pride in America’s founding. He believed"our nation was born in genocide," and claimed that the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were meaningless for blacks becausethey were written by slave owners.
Myth # 3: King was a Christian activist whose struggle for civilrights is similar to the battles fought by the Christian Right today.
Ralph Reed claims that King’s "indispensable genius" provided "thevision and leadership that renewed and made crystal clear the vitalconnection between religion and politics." He proudly admitted thatthe Christian Coalition "adopted many elements of King’s style andtactics." The pro-life group, Operation Rescue, often compared their struggle against abortion to King’s struggle against segregation. In aspeech entitled
The Conservative Virtues of Dr. Martin Luther King 
,Bill BennetdescribedKing, as "not primarily a social activist, he was primarily a minister of the Christian faith, whose faith informed anddirected his political beliefs."Both King’s public stands and personal behavior makes thecomparison between King and the Religious Right questionable.FBI surveillance showed that King had dozens of extramarital affairs.Although many of the pertinent records are sealed, several agents whowatched observed him engage in many questionable acts including buying prostitutes with SCLC money. Ralph Abernathy, who Kingcalled "the best friend I have in the world," substantiated many of these charges in his autobiography,
 And the Walls Came Tumbling  Down.
It is true that a man’s private life is mostly his business.However, most conservatives vehemently condemned Jesse Jacksonwhen news of his illegitimate son came out, and claimed he was unfitto be a minister.King also took stands that most in the Christian Right would disagreewith. When asked about the Supreme Court’s decision to ban school prayer, King responded,I endorse it. I think it was correct. Contrary to what many havePage 3 of 6Myths of Martin Luther King by Marcus Epstein1/17/2012http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/epstein9.html

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