Americans continue to their mind over critical race theory, led by the Reasoned Very Serious Middle, a nest of punditry that seems to believe that being a centrist means occasionally Tweeting “tsk-tsk” about something Trump did while mostly demonstrating a deep hatred of liberals and progressives. Plus, for being the Bastions of Reason, they often demonstrate a tenuous grasp of history.
A fine recent example of this is a piece over the weekend by Reasoned Conservative Marc Thiessen of the Washington Post, who raged about critical race theory, again, and did a very common thing that so many white conservatives do: bastardized the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Michael Harriot, writer with The Root who is pretty much done playing around with your dumb ass, called him on it:
I don’t have a problem with newspapers publishing a variety of opinions. They should. But this @washingtonpost opinion piece by @marcthiessen on “The Danger of Critical Race Theory” contains a whole lie about Martin Luther King.
All they had to do is read MLK’s exact words pic.twitter.com/1753OGJjdI
— Michael Harriot (@michaelharriot) November 14, 2021
As someone who is in the Native community, this sort of thing is all too familiar. White Americans, as a whole, love to soil the history and memory of people they used to fight. It’s a whole cottage industry. Native Americans doing things like protesting pipelines hear laments of non-Natives demanding they be the Mystical Savage of the movies.
With Dr. King, it’s incredibly bad.
Each MLK Day, you have a litany of conservatives who take advantage of the moment for some gaslighting. They tsk-tsk modern Black activists for “not being more like Dr. King,” which means being more like this bizarre recreation of King created in one of Lee Atwater’s fever dreams. The idea of MLK that these professional liars create bears little resemblance to the real Dr. King. Take a look at a few of these more common lies about the man:
– King was never argued America was systematically racist: Harriot nicely buries Thiessen’s claim that King never believed that America was poisoned by racism. King certainly did believe America had a systematic race problem. He wrote about how “everyone must share in the guilt as individuals and as institutions.”
– King was a beloved figure because he didn’t push things “too far.”: This is demonstrably not true. Gallup found that two-thirds of Americans disliked him, and some polls found that number to be as high as nearly 75%. The irony of this is the people making this claim no doubt would be one of the ones who hated him. The reason he was hated is due to some things that have been whitewashed by history, which leads me to…
– King was actually a conservative: This is a mind-boggling, but fairly common claim. Just looking at the next project he was about to launch in earnest before he was killed, the Poor People’s Project. Pretty much, the best way to describe King was a democratic socialist. In fact, a big reason for King’s unpopularity was people believing he was a communist.
– King opposed affirmative action: Conservatives love love love to take King’s words out of context, so they use a line from his most famous speech to claim he was anti-affirmative-action: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Curiously enough, they ignore quotes like: “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.” Or “a society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.” Not really an anti-affirmative-action stance?
After a while, it becomes harder and harder to not see these people as being nothing more than dishonest.
The last word goes to Stevie Wonder, who recognized King’s legacy in one song better than 100,000 conservatives ever will: