Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, May 29, 2019
In The Sopranos, there is a scene in which a Polish couple studies together for their American citizenship test. “Who wrote the ‘Star Spangled Banner’?” asks the wife. “Martin Luther King” says the husband. Later, she asks, “What holiday was first celebrated by the American colonists?” “Martin Luther King,” he responds.
The humorous scene captures a vital truth: Martin Luther King, Jr. is the founding father of modern America. He and Jesus Christ alone share the distinction of federal holidays on their birthdays. The two correct answers in the Sopranos scene—Francis Scott Key and Thanksgiving—are controversial. Key’s statue was vandalized in Baltimore because many people think the national anthem is “racist.” Every Thanksgiving, academics and journalists heap scorn on football and the white settlement of North America.
“Columbus Day” is shameful because it commemorates the arrival of Europeans. George Washington’s birthday has been lumped into “Presidents’ Day,” and in San Francisco, an 83-year-old mural of the Father of His Country may be removed because it “traumatizes students and communities of color.”
No one protests Martin Luther King Day. More than 1,000 streets around the world are named after him.
It wasn’t always this way. Ronald Reagan, John McCain, and other Republicans at first opposed the King holiday. In 1966, a poll found two-thirds of Americans had a negative opinion of King. “I just can’t see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man’s terrible,” said Jacqueline Kennedy.
In 1967, King enraged Lyndon Johnson when he called the American government the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” In the same speech, King seemed to support the Viet Cong, calling them, among other things, “the only party in real touch with the peasants.” Seventy-five percent of Americans had a negative opinion of Martin Luther King just before he was assassinated.
Establishing the Martin Luther King holiday was a triumph of liberal activism. The bill for the holiday was first introduced by John Conyers Jr., the black congressman who recently resigned in disgrace. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, lobbied for a holiday and was helped by celebrities such as Stevie Wonder. He released the song “Happy Birthday [to King]” in 1981. The lyrics, “There oughta be a law against, anyone who takes offense, at a day in your celebration,” describe the cultural status quo.
Coretta Scott King criticized Ronald Reagan just as President Trump is abused today. She said she was “scared that if Ronald Reagan gets into office, we are going to see more of the Ku Klux Klan and a resurgence of the Nazi Party.” Yet it was Reagan who reluctantly signed the bill, noting that “the perception of too many people is based on an image, not reality.” “Indeed,” he wrote in a letter to New Hampshire Republican governor Meldrim Thomson, “the perception is reality.”
That perception endures. Every year, conservatives, even supposed nationalists such as Steve Bannon, claim King was one of them. They quote his line about the “content of their character” and ignore the rest of his career.
Conservatives legitimized King by helping give him a holiday, and now promote King’s supposed “dream” of a multiracial America “deeply rooted in the American dream.” Yet King was a man of the radical left, and historians no longer pretend otherwise. Thus, as Sam Francis wrote, the King holiday promises yet more “destruction and dispossession.”
King explicitly supported racial preferences. He was also deeply involved with members of the Communist Party, most notably Stanley Levison. According to recently declassified FBI files, Levison thought King was a “slow thinker” who should not be “permitted to say anything” without his advisers’ approval.
King’s inveterate plagiarizing and adultery show the content of his character was rotten, particularly because he cloaked himself in the moral righteousness of a Baptist preacher. He probably didn’t believe in the core tenets of Christianity. He disputed the full divinity of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection, and wrote that we should “strip them [these doctrines] of their literal interpretation.”
King was obsessed with sex. According to FBI sources, there is a surveillance tape of King watching a televised rerun of the Kennedy funeral. At the famous moment when Jacqueline Kennedy knelt with her children before the coffin, King reportedly sneered, “Look at her. Sucking him off one last time.”
King’s adultery was pathological. His confidantes, such as Ralph Abernathy, acknowledged his infidelities—and William Raspberry raved about “betrayal.” Coretta Scott King’s claims that her husband was faithful were either pious lies or pathetic self-delusion. She said his faults were such things as “stepping out of his pajamas and leaving them on the floor.”
Many people are understandably uncomfortable condemning a man based on secret recordings. No one would emerge a hero if the FBI recorded everything he said or did. Still, few people—let alone pastors—have sunk to King’s depths of depravity.
Despite everything, King remains a secular saint. He’s almost a religious saint, honored in the Episcopalian liturgical calendar and honored with a statue in Westminster Abbey. Even the notoriously sordid, grifting behavior of King’s family hasn’t besmirched him.
Nevertheless, according to files that recently came to light, King reportedly “looked on and laughed” and “offered advice” while a pastor friend “forcibly” raped a parishioner. This was reported by David Garrow, a progressive who won a Pulitzer for his biography of King. It’s unlikely he’s lying for political reasons. The Daily Mail writes that Mr. Garrow “had no idea of the scale or the ugliness of it and [of King’s] apparent indifference to rape until he saw the files.” He calls this “so fundamental a challenge” to King’s “historical stature” that it will require “the most complete and extensive review possible.”
But some myths withstand even the most sordid revelations. The murder of homosexual Matthew Shepherd justified the expansion of hate crimes laws. When journalist Stephen Jimenez reported that Shepherd’s murder was not because he was homosexual but because he was a drug dealer, it changed nothing.
Similarly, Manning Marable, a committed progressive, revealed disturbing political and personal truths in his biography about Malcolm X. It changed nothing.
Ralph Abernathy wrote of King that he “knocked” one of his lovers “across the bed” and then got into a full-scale fist fight with her. The myth remains untarnished.
In the era of #MeToo, a charge of watching, laughing at, and offering advice to a violent rapist is explosive. Michael Jackson’s statue was removed after claims he abused children. Shouldn’t King’s be removed if these claims are true?
The mainstream media are downplaying the story, but Rush Limbaugh discussed it. “The left and the Democrats have already moved on from what Dr. King really believed in and who he really was long ago,” said Mr. Limbaugh. This is a half-truth: Leftists have moved on from King, but it’s conservatives who close their eyes to who King “really was.”
Mr. Limbaugh argued the Democrats “have totally reconstructed what Dr. Martin Luther King believed in, starting with his devout Christianity.” He also denounced the Democrats’ dedication to “identity politics,” concluding that they won’t abandon King because they’ve “remade” him so completely. It takes no “remaking” to make King a proponent of identity politics.
It’s Mr. Limbaugh and the conservatives who “remade” King. King disputed the divinity of Christ, promoted identity politics, and supported affirmative action. Conservatives willfully ignore what he was: a far-left agitator, an adulterer, and an abuser who may have encouraged a rape.
Anyone can be sacrificed in the march towards the impossible goal of racial equality. Just as former demigods such as Washington or Churchill can be dethroned, maybe even King could lose his crown. A majority non-white America won’t need King’s “content of their character” baloney anymore. No one believes in “colorblindness” except white conservatives.
If leftists dump King, I’d support them. The giant Maoist monument is a disgrace. Toppling King would force conservatives to confront just what it is they’ve been propping up.
“A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true,” said Martin Luther King in 1965. The truth is that integration failed. King’s legacy is seen in ruined schools and cities from Selma to Chicago. The bright, shining lie of the colorblind King helped naïve white Americans swallow poisonous policies. It’s time the idol be revealed for what he was. This emperor truly does have no clothes.