Civil Rights and civility

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(Image courtesy Riehl World View)

Today we celebrate the birth of a true contemporary prophet, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Each year on this day I try to set aside a little time to re-read Dr. King’s “Letter From A Birmingham Jail“.  I hope that all of you have read it as well, and that your older children have also read it.

I am always struck by how truly eloquent Dr. King was.  Not the phony, scripted, teleprompter-dependent eloquence of our current Chief Executive, or the “looks good in a tuxedo” eloquence that seems to have convinced more than a few Hollywood types that they actually have something substantial to contribute to American politics.  Dr. King was none of these.  He was eloquent like Ronald Reagan was eloquent — he could tactfully and truthfully shame those who practiced indecency and injustice, while still extending a hand in friendship and promising to work with anyone who was willing to meet him half-way.

Unfortunately that kind of eloquence has been thoroughly abandoned by today’s civil rights leadership. 

In light of the Left’s new-found fondness for “civility”, perhaps we should look at the inflammatory rhetoric directed squarely at the Republican party (and in general, all who hold conservative beliefs) by the very people who claim absolute moral authority on matters of tolerance and equality.   

Most disturbing is the 1998 Missouri radio ad which aired on stations with a high percentage of black listeners: “When you don’t vote, you let another church
explode. When you don’t vote, you allow another cross to burn. When you
don’t vote, you let another assault wound a brother or sister.  When you don’t vote, you let the Republicans continue to cut school lunches and Head Start.  
Vote
smart. Vote Democratic for Congress and the U.S. Senate
.”

And there is the shameful legacy of former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, who has slandered Republicans for decades with statements like: “Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and the confederate swastika flying side-by-side” and “they draw their most rabid support from the Taliban Wing of American politics, and now they want to write bigotry back into the Constitution.”

More recently there was the effort to deny Rush Limbaugh the right to become an owner of the St. Louis Rams football franchise because Limbaugh was allegedly a “racist”.  This effort was cooked up by prominent Democrats and civil rights activists (including the NAACP), based on “evidence” that has been completely discredited, such as crackpot claims that Limbaugh supported slavery and had once praised Dr. King’s assassin, James Earl Ray.  Nonetheless, their efforts were successful and Limbaugh was dropped as a potential investor in the team. 

Another current effort by the NAACP is “teapartynationalism.com”, a blatant propaganda website with a home page that is predictably filled with images of swastikas, Confederate flags, kooky signs from Tea Party protests, and other cherry-picked content specifically designed to give site visitors an immediate impression that the Tea Party openly tolerates and encourages white supremacy and racism.

Dr. King was often frustrated with the politics and politicians of his time.  He privately expressed his anger toward both John and Robert Kennedy, whom King accused of hampering his efforts to end segregation.  (JFK believed King was pushing too quickly, and both RFK and JFK were concerned about alleged ties between Communist organizations and King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.)  But King’s public statements were always hopeful; he rallied his supporters, giving credit to the Kennedy administration for supporting his efforts, while reminding Kennedy and others in the Federal government that he would not back down, and that their help was critical to the success of his mission.  

Refusing to directly attack even his most fierce adversaries with inflammatory rhetoric was one of Dr. King’s truly extraordinary traits, and it stands in stark contrast to the deliberately provocative, politically motivated bomb throwing by our current civil rights leaders.  Having sold themselves out to the Democratic party decades ago, the NAACP, SCLC, and SPLC are little more than caricatures of their former selves, and seem to function primarily as a special interest campaign organization for the Democrats.  However, credit should be given where credit is due — they have done their job extremely well, and routinely deliver 90% to 95% of the black vote to Democrats during every national election.

But wouldn’t we be better off, as a nation, without the continuous demonizing and pillorying of Republicans and conservatives by civil rights leaders?  Today, few insults carry the shame, stigma, and virtually unpardonable connotation of evil as the term “racist”.  Yet the frequency and frivolity with which the weight of this term is used by liberals to attack anyone who disagrees with them threatens to permanently diminish its impact and reduce it to just another schoolyard insult.  I can think of no quicker, or more ironic, way of dishonoring a man who gave his life fighting the evils of true injustice and racism. 

Hate-mongers on the Left, are you listening?
 

Dear Math
Blinded to basic logic and reasoning