I am many things, but an expert on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is not one of them. One thing I do know is that he was a Republican. Lay that little tid-bit out for any of your liberal friends, and prepare for a reaction equal parts anger and incredulity. They just don’t like it; then again, when have our nation’s lefties ever enjoyed being confronted with reality?
One of my favorite articles on that particular subject is by Francis Rice. It was entitled Why Martin Luther King Was a Republican, and was released at Human Events on August 16, 2006, almost 43 years to the day of his famed “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. From Rice’s piece:
It was the Republicans who fought to free blacks from slavery and amended the Constitution to grant blacks freedom (13th Amendment), citizenship (14th Amendment) and the right to vote (15th Amendment). Republicans passed the civil rights laws of the 1860s, including the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Reconstruction Act of 1867 that was designed to establish a new government system in the Democrat-controlled South, one that was fair to blacks. Republicans also started the NAACP and affirmative action with Republican President Richard Nixon’s 1969 Philadelphia Plan (crafted by black Republican Art Fletcher) that set the nation’s fist goals and timetables. Although affirmative action now has been turned by the Democrats into an unfair quota system, affirmative action was begun by Nixon to counter the harm caused to blacks when Democrat President Woodrow Wilson in 1912 kicked all of the blacks out of federal government jobs.
Few black Americans know that it was Republicans who founded the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Unknown also is the fact that Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen from Illinois was key to the passage of civil rights legislation in 1957, 1960, 1964 and 1965. Not mentioned in recent media stories about extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is the fact that Dirksen wrote the language for the bill. Dirksen also crafted the language for the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which prohibited discrimination in housing. President Lyndon Johnson could not have achieved passage of civil rights legislation without the support of Republicans.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, how revisionist history has essentially turned the table on who exactly did what with regard to race and politics in America? Nevertheless, I believe that King’s own ideological perspective went a whole lot deeper than who did what in Congress. From that August 1963 speech from the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, I think it’s fairly clear where he stands and why.
King’s famed speech was about more than just black and white. It was about more than ending segregation and slowing the tide of race discrimination in America. Sure, Dr. King was speaking about a “promissory note” written by our nation’s founders, but when it came to payment on that note he spoke about opportunities, not handouts. Dr. King’s missing justice was the unavailability of opportunity, not some sort of undrafted and unsigned entitlement program. He invoked the concept of shedding the shackles of inequality, not hiding behind affirmative action.
He warned against bitterness and against hatred, and argued in favor of addressing injustice “on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” Creative protest must not degenerate into physical violence. Physical force should be met with soul force. “In the process of gaining our rightful place,” he said, “we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.”
Now, on too many occasions race is used as an excuse, something to be focused on as an alternative to merit. It’s become a way to shirk responsibility, to revel in the protections of the court and Congress. Again, I’m no expert on Dr. King, but from his own words it seems he merely wanted black Americans to start at the same starting line as everyone else — from there, how hard they worked to keep up or get ahead was no business of anybody but themselves.
Consider, for example, the case of the New Haven, Connecticut firefighters who originally were denied promotion when the qualification test they took and demolished was scrapped in its entirety because not enough minorities performed well. Dr. King, I believe, would be appalled. Dr. King, I believe, wanted black Americans to stand on their own. That’s the statement of a conservative if I’ve ever heard one.