The Spectacle Blog

Co-Opting King

By on 1.22.08 | 10:19AM

COLUMBIA, SC -- I attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally here on Monday organized by the NAACP, and it was sad how much the parade of speakers--not just the three Democratic candidates-- evoked King at every chance to advocate liberal policies.

Whether the issue was health care, education, taxes, or how Iraq didn't have WMDs, somehow, it all came back to King's legacy. One speaker said that if MLK were alive today, he'd be worried about the sub-prime lending crisis.

To be sure, King was a liberal on economic and foreign policy, so it's fine for them to emphasize that part of his legacy should they choose to do so. However, they shouldn't get to have it both ways. When conservatives criticize King for his economic views, liberals become disgusted, because King has been set up as a mythical figure who is beyond criticism. "How can you be against a man who stood for non-violence and fought for equal rights?"

Regardless of political views, Americans can celebrate King as a man who led a heroic, peaceful, struggle for civil rights at a time of gross racial injustice, and paid the ultimate price for it. But if the MLK holiday is used as an oppourtunity to fight for liberal policies, it shouldn't surprise anybody if conservatives are turned off.

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