Sunday, September 13, 2009

MLK a Republican? I don't think so.

I visited friends this weekend in Milwaukee, and on our way home to Madison, I noticed a billboard. I couldn't make out the words, but I saw the image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I smiled a bit, because the words of Dr. King always have a way of motivating me to become a better person.

When we reached the sign, my jaw dropped; it read:

"Martin Luther King, Jr. Was A REPUBLICAN!"

I was incensed. The sign is being advertised by the National Black Republicans Association, who assert that "MLK was a minister and a Republican who embraced our traditional values."

The NBRA is hoping that, by pointing out the political allegiances of the former Baptist Minister, they can bring more African Americans to the Republican Party. In the 2008 presidential election, Obama garnered more than nine-in-ten African American voters.

"Obama is no MLK," says the NBRA. "Obama is a far left-wing radical Democrat who does not share our values."

Now, it isn't too hard to conceive that Dr. King was possibly a Republican (no known record of his political affiliation actually exists). Many African Americans had been Republican-affiliated from the days of Lincoln until Franklin Roosevelt, when northern Democrats began shifting their views on segregation laws.

However, to claim that Dr. King would accept the current incarnation of the Republican Party as representative of his own views is downright wrong.

Dr. King was a fierce opponent of the war in Vietnam; there is no way he would accept the war in Iraq during the tenure of George W. Bush as acceptable.

Dr. King was also an advocate of labor; he would be seen as a far-left liberal by many extremist conservatives active in the GOP today. Take a look at some of his words:
I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. 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...
Can you imagine a Republican saying something like that today?! He'd be run out of the party!

How can the NBRA assert that King was a conservative when he was being monitored by the FBI for his far-left views?

Dr. King may well have been a Republican; but the party was different ideologically in the 1960s than it is today. The Democrats who advocated segregation branched off to form the Dixiecrat Party, with many of those members eventually joining the Republican Party.

I'm not saying that the Republican Party today is full of racists; there are haters within both parties. And though more racists identify with conservative causes, it should be noted that that fact doesn't make ALL conservatives racist.

What I AM saying is this: Dr. King was an advocate of liberal causes. He pushed tirelessly for the emancipation of blacks across the country from the binds of Jim Crow, was against the growing conflict in Vietnam, and pushed for workers' rights in the later years of his life. These are not the stances traditionally assigned to a conservative political party; these are the calling cards of a liberal.

The sign I saw today, then, is highly misleading; the NBRA ought to be ashamed for their deliberate manipulation of facts.

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