CNN: Was Martin Luther King Jr Conservative? Some Say! But Others Don't!


Look, we have found a single "article" that is a great example of everything wrong with journalism and a lot of things wrong with conservatism, ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Pretty amazing, right? It is not often that we get to make fun of CNN, contemporary American journalism, and conservatives all in the same post, so this is a rare treat! Ready? In but a few moments, you will be exposed to a torrential downpour of idiocy, and forced to examine the possibility that American journalism has basically turned into community theater.

As the nation celebrates King's national holiday Monday, a new battle has erupted over his legacy. Some conservatives are saying it's time for them to reclaim the legacy of King, whose message of self-help, patriotism and a colorblind America, they say, was "fundamentally conservative."

But those who marched with King and studied his work say that notion is absurd. The political class that once opposed King, they argue, is now trying to distort his message.

Look at all the stupid things that happened  just in these first couple paragraphs. There are so many, we will just discuss a few of them. So here we have Peter Schramm, a "conservative historian," who is presented alongside people who "marched with King," and people who "studied his work," i.e. actual civil rights activists and bona fide scholars. This is to avoid the appearance of "bias," and so instead of treating Peter Schramm's ridiculous argument as a ridiculous argument, which it is, and Peter Schramm as kind of ignorant about the Southern Freedom Movement, which he seems to be, he is accorded authority equal to that of ACTUAL scholars and historians, and presented alongside them as though his credibility is equivalent to theirs, which it is not.

Are we being too hard on Peter Schramm, who has a Master's in government, a Master's in International History, and no credentials in American history?  No, we don't think we are, given his position, which is that MLK was against racism and therefore was conservative. This seems to be his whole argument, by the way -- we can find no evidence of a more nuanced argument on Google scholar, in Google books, or on the rest of the internet.

King's most famous words are the crux of the disagreement.

"He was against all policies based on race," says Peter Schramm, a conservative historian. "The basis of his attack on segregation was 'judge us by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.' That's a profound moral argument."

It might shock conservative historian Peter Schramm to learn that MLK made lots of other speeches! No, really, he apparently made a lot of speeches, and while many of them focused on racism, some of them talked about other forms of oppression, like this one , which praised Margaret Sanger for trying to make birth control more widely available, or this one, which expressed grave opposition to the Vietnam War. There is also the one that referred to the inhumanity of unequal access to health care, and the many speeches he gave on worker's rights and the importance of unions. But totally, Peter Schramm, MLK said he is against racism, so he must have been conservative, sounds good!

Would it surprise you that Ronald Reagan was a pioneer in the effort to brand MLK as a conservative, or at least, a Republican?

Ronald Reagan was one of the first conservatives to invoke the words of MLK to support conservative policies...In June of 1985, Reagan cited King's "content of our character" line from the "I Have a Dream" speech to argue in a speech opposing affirmative action that King's vision of a colorblind society would not include racial hiring quotas.

Reagan, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, said in a radio address on civil rights:

"The truth is, quotas deny jobs to many who would have gotten them otherwise but who weren't born a specified race or sex. That's discrimination pure and simple and is exactly what the civil rights laws were designed to stop."

Of course, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not call for quotas in hiring decisions or in anything else, but CNN will not tell you that either, because of bias, and also because it would be too much work to look at the Civil Rights Act and find out what it actually says. And lucky for Peter Schramm and Ronald Reagan, they have lots of other idiots to keep him company, like some lady who wrote about MLK for the Heritage Foundation in 2006.

[Carolyn. G.] Raney, who wrote [a 2006] Heritage Foundation article about King's conservative values, says she did so because she wanted to "reclaim" King for conservatives.

Still, she says as much as she's read about King, he remains elusive.

"It seems like there are almost two Kings, the earlier one and the later one," she says.

Both versions of King will be on display this Monday. Forty-five years after his death, one thing has not changed: King's message is still dividing America.

And there you have it: much of what is wrong with American journalism and American conservatism in A SINGLE ARTICLE: 1) examples of people who are given platforms to share their ideas with a wide audience even if their ideas are poorly argued, based on faulty logic, or relying on false premises, 2) a journalistic establishment that is only too happy to cite these people as sources of authority in pursuit of "objectivity," and 3) an article that simply summarizes two positions as though they are equivalent and gives no real analysis and adds nothing to the conversation, other than elevating a bunch of idiots to a position of authority that they did not earn and do not deserve.

So, to answer CNN's rhetorical question about "why conservatives call MLK their hero:" it is because they do not appear to know any better.


You can follow Wonkette on Twitter at @Wonkette and you can follow Kris E. Benson on Twitter too, at @Kris_E_Benson


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