Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Mythbusting right wing revisionist history

The conservatives in the United States have a problem.  That problem is that they are consistently on the wrong side of the arc of history.

So they make up their own fake history, on such a large scale that it becomes an alternate delusional, ideological reality.  In that regard, conservatism is a form of mental illness, of a break with reality.

Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State under Dubya, called out the GOP for racism.  At the same time we see the same old same old lies from the right trying to claim credit for and solidarity with the accomplishments of King and the other civil rights activists of the day. 

At the same time they try to distance themselves from the conservative violence, the conservative opposition (BOTH Republican and Democractic) to civil rights legislation, and the attempts to disrespect the legacy of King after his assassination -- by a conservative.

Here's the problem with the right wing scenario:  It is not true, not even a little bit.

The civil rights legislation of the 60's was first proposed by liberal democrats, notably our own 'happy warrior', Senator - then-Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, who promoted civil rights for minority Americans as far back as the 1948 Democratic convention when he wrote a civil rights plank for the party, passed over the votes of conservative Democrats (mostly from the deep south).

Liberal Democrats wrote the civil rights legislation and the voting rights legislation, notably with considerable input from Hubert Humphrey.  It was passed by a majority of Democratic members of Congress, with support from liberal members on the Republican side.

If you look at the list of those who voted against that landmark legislation, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE VOTES CAME FROM A CONSERVATIVE.

In the later 60's through the 70's and 80's, the great switcheroo took place, with conservative Democrats, both voters and pols, changing sides to align with Republicans.  Liberal Republicans began their migration to the Democratic side.

WHY does this matter now?

Here's why, via ThinkProgress:

On Sunday, during an appearance on Meet The Press, Colin Powell condemned the GOP’s “dark vein of intolerance” and the party’s repeated use of racial code words to oppose President Obama and rally white conservative voters.
Without mentioning names, Powell singled out former Mitt Romney surrogate and New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu for calling Obama “lazy” and Sarah Palin, who, Powell charged, used slavery-era terms to describe Obama:

POWELL: There’s also a dark — a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that that they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that?
When I see a former governor say that the President is “shuckin’ and jivin’,” that’s racial era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow. He was tired. He didn’t do well. He said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with that. The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?

And here's also why, via Salon:
The right’s grossest race lie: Delusional conservatives and the truth about MLK
Post-Ferguson and Staten Island, the right's again claiming MLK would be on their side. Let's put the lie to rest
Paul Rosenberg

The right's grossest race lie: Delusional conservatives and the truth about MLKBill O'Reilly, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sean Hannity (Credit: AP/Horace Cort/Fox News)

“It didn’t cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters. It didn’t cost the nation one penny to guarantee the right to vote. But now we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without thenation spending billions of dollars and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, speech while organizing the Poor People’s Movement [From
Citizen King.]
Conservatives have a decades-long history of deeply divided views on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On the one hand, there’s the traditional “most dangerous Negro in America” (per J. Edgar Hoover) view that dominated their thinking while King was alive, and even up to the time his birthday was made into a national holiday.
On the other, there’s a long-standing attempt to kidnap King ideologically and reinvent him as one of their own. This effort often revolves around the only line most conservatives seem to know King spoke—something about “the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”
By ripping that line out of context, imbuing it  with their own odious character narratives, and ignoring virtually everything else King said or did in his life—much less what conservatives at the time said about him—they have invented a fantasy figure, closer to Santa Claus than to the real Martin Luther King. And that Santa figure exists for one purpose: to make them feel good about themselves—I mean really good about themselves—when the real Martin Luther King would fill them with shame and humiliation, if not outright self-disgust.
The conservative kidnapping of King is a perverse example of mythos—meaning making—as opposed to logos—empirical knowledge about the real world, which helps to explain why no amount of facts to the contrary will stop conservatives from indulging in it. But we can certainly make it difficult for them to spread this calumny without being met with waves of richly deserved ridicule whenever they repeat it.

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