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Killing In the Name Of

January 17, 2011

Every winter, the days leading up to the MLK celebration I get a (decreasingly large) hit count bump, owing to this page about the conservative usurpation of MLK’s “Dream” speech. Maybe “usurpation” isn’t the best word choice given that King never really declared an ideology linked to any political persuasion. Yet we can suss, from his speeches that he: was at least vigorously anti-imperialist and anti-war, interested in the power of the federal government to help the disadvantaged, believed that unregulated markets breeds unparalleled greed. That’s not the stuff of Tea Party legend.

Yet and still, every January, someone, usually King’s niece Alveda King, will trot out the idea that if King were alive today he’d be (GASP!) a conservative!

That kind of silly season speculation should be ignored as I might ignore my son’s comedy farts just after he’s been chastised. See, he only wants to attempt to divert my attention away from the important matter of giving him a time-out. But you know sometimes you can’t help laugh.

Possibly funnier to some is the notion that King would be a Democrat. While we liberals and leftists strive to have the kind of Democracy our children would be proud of, we are indeed supporting a President who has signed off on a bombing campaign that is killing children. Our stimulus package and attempts at reversing the damage lax regulation did to the economy by giving banks more freedom (and their very own reserve of funds should they screw up again), not spending on public works projects to give people job opportunities. If you’ve ever a chance to actually read or hear anything King said, you’d think he ain’t supporting that bunch of Torries either.

So, where would he stand today, if he were alive (the reporter asks earnestly)? Oh, I don’t know, a man apart, with the people, perhaps.

We had another chance to consider King’s legacy a bit earlier this time around, though, after the a fore alluded to events in Tuscon, AZ. The villainous Jared Lee Loughner (we love to know our assassin’s middle names, don’t we) was painted as an example of Everything That is Wrong With the Right, then, meekly and ignorantly as a Commie hit man, that is until the Consoler-in-chief told us to stop with the blame game. Besides being a great speech and a nice mushy sentiment, it was a great political move. The mantle of victimhood the Right has cloaked itself in was ripped away – at least in the eyes of the press – leaving an increasingly inconsequential Sarah Palin there stammering alone (oh, wait, she’s got Hannity).

There may have been no direct link between Jared Lee’s rampage and the Tea Party, like a membership card or copy of “America By Heart” on his Amazon wishlist. Most have taken great care to present him as the Lone Nutbag (as the press is always in a great hurry to do when there is an assassination). That does not, I’m afraid, exonerate, that lot completely. We really didn’t need to bother linking Tuscon to the Tea Party’s worst case nutbags, there is enough evidence floating about of their interest in the use of “2nd Amendment remedies” to “take their country back (from the Kenyan interloper who stole it).”

We expect this sort of madness from the outliers. We also, rightly expect the level heads in the conservative movement to condemn that kind of crap. They might say well we abhor violence, as Mrs Palin and others did. I’m sure they don’t like being shot at or being hit over the head. That’s about as far as the leadership would go. I know they feared political costs of of speaking out against the Birthers and other assorted nutbags.

Or perhaps the fear was much simpler and more sympathetic; the conservative leadership would prefer that the guns were not aimed at them. I mean, who wants to be featured in the cross hairs of the Palin-ites? The leadership on the Right may know, more than the press and pundits, more than us rubes in the general populace, just how seriously dangerous these folks are.

They could, of course, just speak out anyway. Ah, but that would take political courage and leadership. So here’s the MLK quote: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. ”

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