Dr. King and Rush versus moderates on race: Cornyn, Steele fear the elephant in the room on Sotomayor nomination.
“We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is
already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen
and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it
is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the
natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed,
with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human
conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. writing on racism in Letter from a Birmingham Jail
“I care about whether she’s qualified, and I think she’s
disqualified herself. Not only does she lack the
often-discussed appropriate judicial temperament, it’s worse than
that. She brings a form of bigotry or racism to the court.
I don’t care — we’re not supposed to say it, we’re supposed
to pretend it didn’t happen, we’re supposed to look at other
things, but it’s the elephant in the room.”
— Rush Limbaugh speaking on racism and Judge Sonia Sotomayor on his radio show
Separated at Birth? Dr. Martin Luther King and Rush Limbaugh?
Let’s start here with one of the famous documents of modern American history.
While Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was sitting in a Birmingham, Alabama jail cell in April 1963, arrested for protesting what would today be called identity politics (in 1963 this meant keeping blacks out of public facilities as part of the drive to preserve the white identity), objection was raised to Dr. King about his tactics. This objection did not, however, come from the Bull Connors of the day — they were so ferocious in their opposition no one could mistake what they thought. To this day the images of the snarling Birmingham police dogs and fire hoses unleashed against blacks by Connor in his role as the local Safety Commissioner are frozen in time.
No, Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail was in fact a response to a protest from the moderates of the day. Specifically eight moderate Alabama ministers had written a statement they termed “A Call for Unity,” running it as an ad in the local paper. They made it plain they were not happy with Dr. King. The moderates characterized Dr. King as an “outside agitator” whose vivid protests against racism were “unwise and untimely.” King, they said, was not pursuing his goals through the “proper channels.”
Dr. King, sitting in jail, thought over his response carefully. With exasperation he realized that as bad as the Bull Connors of the world were, they really weren’t the problem. The problem was with those he would term the “white moderates.” Indeed, he had come to believe, moderation when it came to closing one’s eyes to racism was inexcusable.
So Dr. King took the only paper he had available to him — scraps of toilet paper and the margins of a newspaper — and scribbled out his thoughts, addressing his letter to the self-declared moderates in the clergy at large who were upset with his direct confrontation of racism. It was a message intended as well for all Americans who saw themselves as political moderates. King said this about the moderates of the day:
I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.”
Citing complaints that he was raising tensions with his language and actions, King went on:
But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
Five months after speaking of the importance of confronting racism (which he called an ugly “boil” and Limbaugh today calls “the elephant in the room”) King would stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and deliver these famous lines from his speech to the March on Washington. Speaking on his radio show in 2009, Rush Limbaugh would concur.
Dr. King, 1963: “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.”
Rush Limbaugh, 2009: “Whatever happened to the content of one’s character as the basis of judging people?”
In other words, amid the tumult of 1963, Dr. King went out of his way to put himself on record as supporting a core belief, a belief Limbaugh has repeatedly endorsed — the idea of a colorblind America.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?