Martin Luther King Jr. asks Josh Hawley 'WTF?' Photo: Dick DeMarsico, US Library of Congress

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) gave a senate speech Tuesday opposing the nomination of Kiran Ahuja to lead the Office of Personnel Management, because "critical race theory," and also because Martin Luther King sure would be mad if anyone talked too much about systemic racism. The speech came after Hawley had put a hold on Ahuja's nomination earlier this month so he could lie some more about the academic theory's many supposed sins, claiming he couldn't support Ahuja "because of her history promoting radical critical race theorists."

Needless to say, his version of critical race theory bears little resemblance to the actual academic discipline, which is largely the domain of law schools and graduate programs anyway. Instead, he claimed the federal government, particularly diversity training programs, have been overrun by the cartoonish bullshit being pushed by rightwing culture warriors like Chris Rufo on Fox News. In mere reality, CRT looks at how American institutions have been shaped with the intent of excluding people of color, even when laws and government programs are at least facially colorblind. The right's imaginary moral panic version of critical race theory is far scarier, though, because it's a plot to divide and destroy America by insisting all white people are born racist oppressors, and that all Black people are victims who white people need to hand over all their wealth and power to.

The fact that no one can actually find a school, seminar, or academic program using such simplistic dualities doesn't matter, because rightwing media keeps insisting it's real, and coming to destroy your white children.

Here, for those with strong stomachs, is Hawley lying a lot, both about what critical race theory is, and why Kiran Ahuja must not be confirmed, lest she "use her platform to promote radical ideologies that seek to divide, rather than unite the American people."

Since nobody's actually preaching the simplistic straw man Hawley's arguing against, we should probably admit he's won, and that schools should not teach that people are inescapably defined by race.

Also, high school physics classes should immediately stop teaching that gravity only kicks in when you run off a cliff and look down, realizing you're standing in the air.


Since Hawley's version of critical race theory (which is not being taught in public schools, anywhere) is a ridiculous lie, it shouldn't be the least bit surprising he would reduce Dr. King to the single quote every Republican thinks sums up King's vast range of thought. That would be this one single thing King said in his 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech. Look how inspirational!

HAWLEY: This is about ensuring that the federal government stands for unity, not division, harmony, not hate. The Reverend Dr. King famously said, and he was right, that we should judge our fellow citizens "not by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin."

Then after the seven seconds King took for that one line, he sat down and never wrote or said anything again for the rest of his life, except maybe the thing where he said he'd been to the mountaintop and seen the promised land, where there was no affirmative action and a nice young man named Josh was taking the oath of office.

Like most of the GOP/Fox News liars, Hawley pretends the concept of systemic racism means all white people are racists, which works as propaganda because nobody wants to be a racist. They're pretty big on leaving out the idea that systems even exist, or that the past can have any meaningful influence on the present. That rhetorical presentism, in which the end of legal segregation magically made everyone equal really and truly, renders history meaningless. So what if systems like redlining and restrictive covenants prevented Black families from building wealth generations ago? It would be silly to think that has any effects today, because Josh Hawley looks at America and he sees no systemic racism.

Oh, hey, while we're at it, we wonder what Josh Hawley would think of this critical race theorist who is sowing division instead of unity by talking about race:

Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans…These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.

— Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go From Here? (1968)

White Americans must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.

— Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go From Here? (1968)

The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and racism. The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.

— Martin Luther King Jr., to the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (1967)

OK, But surely King would be offended by referring to all members of a race as "oppressors," and the suggestion that they see the world differently because of their place in American society?

I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action.

— Martin Luther King Jr., "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (1963)

[One] day we must ask the question, "Why are there forty million poor people in America?" And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.

— Martin Luther King Jr., address to the SCLC (1967)

What a divisive guy! Sure hope he doesn't get confirmed to any important jobs.

We have plenty more, like maybe King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech, but we're starting to think that if you want to really learn about Martin Luther King Jr., you probably shouldn't ask Josh Hawley.

Also, the Senate ultimately voted to confirm Kiran Ahuja, but it required VP Kamala Harris to break the 50-50 tie vote, because Ahuja is a woman of color and Republicans would never vote for her, the end.

[CNN / Josh Hawley on YouTube / City Heights / MLK50 / Stanford University / Plough / Stanford University / The Hill]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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