Mike Pence's Stupid Bigot Mouth Suggests Dr. King's Dream Was WALL
Black people love Martin Luther King Jr., but part of us secretly dreads the national holiday he shares in two states with Robert E. Lee. We really don't have the stomach for Republicans insulting his memory every third Monday of January. They relish in praising the sanitized, color-blind magic negro parody of Dr. King they've created while not even bothering to set a 24-hour snooze on their current racist activities that stand in direct opposition to everything Dr. King believed.
Vice President and terrible person Mike Pence was on "Face the Nation" Sunday testifying on behalf of his boss Donald Trump's stupid WALL. WALL is a racist idea from a racist president, so obviously Pence chose to compare Trump's xenophobic mission to erect artificial barriers to the man who died preaching love and acceptance.
"Honestly, you know, the hearts and minds of the American people today are thinking a lot about [WALL] being the weekend we are remembering the life and the work of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, 'Now is the time to make real the the promises of democracy,'" [Pence] said, quoting a passage from Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Conservatives seem to think Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech is the only thing he ever said or did. It's the racial equivalent to white people owning just the greatest hits collection from The Beatles and still only ever listening to the radio edit of "Hey Jude." We've discussed Pence's verbal tells previously: "Honestly" is how he begins a completely dishonest statement. Does anyone really believe Pence has a "favorite" King quote? It's like how Sarah Palin's "favorite" newspaper was "all of them."
These are the actual words surrounding the line Pence defiled with his
"Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."
How does this have anything to do with Donald J. Trump? Trump desperately wants to block off the "sunlit path" at the border with a giant wall made of concrete or steel or possibly MAGA hats. He has recently quoted white supremacists when defending WALL. Children have literally died because Trump openly rejects the "solid rock of brotherhood."
"You think of how [Dr. King] changed America, he inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union. That's exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do, come to the table in a spirit of good faith."
It's unlikely that Pence or anyone else would honor Dr. King's memory today if he'd said about white people what Trump said about Mexicans: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best; they're not sending you... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
Dr. King lived during the height of the White Folks Acting Like Damn Fools era. His own home was bombed, and in case you forgot, he didn't pass away from natural causes in an assisted living facility complaining that his grandkids never visited. He endured the worst of white America, saw their abuses firsthand, and still believed peaceful coexistence was possible. He didn't stoke fear in the gullible over migrant caravans from "shithole" countries. He was courageous in both body and soul, and Pence should keep his name out of his mouth.
This is also the section from King's "I Have a Dream" speech that conservatives and even most white moderates tend to skip over, like the extended guitar solo in "I Want You (She's So Heavy)."
"It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges."
Dr. King regularly invoked the type of Black Lives Matter, revolutionary rhetoric that was probably why the FBI closely monitored him in the first place. J. Edgar Hoover was a paranoid bigot but he wouldn't have wasted taxpayer dollars tapping the phone of a smiling Uncle Remus who just went around shouting, "Judge me by the content of my character not the color of my skin! No affirmative action! Black people are the true racists!"
Today, let's remember instead that Dr. King was aware he was black and actually liked it.
Dr. King also had no time for the sort of respectability politics that would get a black conservative a guest slot on Laura Ingraham's show.
During his all-too-short life, Dr. King had dreams that were bold and visionary. They will live on long after the nightmares Donald Trump inspired have withered and died.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.