The Absurdity of Racists Co-opting MLK’s Legacy
Stop using King’s words to support oppressive systems
It has become almost laughable how many people invoke Dr. King’s name on MLK Day to deny systemic racism. Or defame or intentionally lie about critical race theory. Or just downright oppose meaningful societal change when it comes to race.
Arguments like those listed above are especially pervasive during this time of year, as people across the political spectrum celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The likes of Ted Cruz, Mike Pence, and Ivanka Trump all have paid tribute to the late Dr. King while simultaneously failing to denounce Donald Trump and his brand of race-baiting. All the while, these people never support any meaningful improvement or investment in Black communities.
In my native state of Ohio, Republican senatorial candidate and former treasury secretary Josh Mandel recently remarked that “Martin Luther King once said that he had a dream that his grandkids would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. But what you have going on in the government schools by these liberals and the media, and by the secular left, by the radical left, they’re trying to make everything about skin color.” Oh, Josh Mandel, the civil rights champion.
Right-wing protests of anything dealing with racial justice have from time to time featured Dr. King signs or quotes.
Donald Trump himself charged that the modern civil rights movement is “distorting” King. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—in his fight to prevent having kids taught the true history of our nation, Black accomplishments, and the sins of our forefathers—also cited Dr. King, saying critical race theory “goes against everything Dr. King has ever told us.”
I’d forgive you if you’re starting to think this is Comedy Central; alas, they’re serious.
After 2020’s Stop the Steal insurrection at the Capitol, newly elected Republican Nancy Mace likewise used King to defend the lawbreakers: “I’m asking my colleagues to remember the words of the legendary, the great leader in this country Dr. Martin Luther King, who once said the time is always right to do what is right.” Yes, Dr. King, the Trump conspiracy supporter…