No, GOP, Dr. King Would’ve Also Wanted To Impeach The MFer
It's that time of year when Republicans insult our intelligence and Dr. Martin Luther King's memory with nonsensical statements about the civil rights leader. Let them tell it, Dr. King was a supply-side loving, promoter of color-blind “unity," hardly revolutionary at all. Conservatives selectively quote Dr. King as if he wrote greeting card messages or the lyrics to Bobby McFerrin's “Don't Worry Be Happy."
South Carolina Republican House Rep. Nancy Mace got a head start on the annual hypocrisy when she invoked Dr. King as part of her BS rationale for not voting to impeach Donald Trump.
Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "The time is always right to do what is right." And if we're serious about healing the divisions in this country, Republicans and Democrats need to acknowledge this is not the first day of violence we've seen.
This is what happens when a white woman buys a MLK Quote of the Day calendar. The Capitol hasn't been attacked since 1814, but Mace compared some stupid kid burning a CVS to Trump's attempted insurrection. That's just pathetic. She's awarded no points and may God have mercy on her soul.
Mace takes King grossly out of context. He said, “The time is always right to do right" during an address to Oberlin College in 1965 when he denounced a conservative approach to the race problem in America.
Let nobody give you the impression that the problem of racial injustice will work itself out. Let nobody give you the impression that only time will solve the problem. That is a myth, and it is a myth because time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I'm absolutely convinced that the people of ill will in our nation — the extreme rightists, the forces committed to negative ends — have used time much more effectively than the people of good will.
It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic works and violent actions of the bad people who bomb a church in Birmingham, Alabama, or shoot down a civil rights worker in Selma, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, "Wait on time."
Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals. Without this hard work, time becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always right to do right.
Dr. King would have opposed setting burning buildings or destroying private property, but he wouldn't have accepted Republicans using the violence as an excuse to delay or avoid change. He cautioned in the same speech against “sleeping during a revolution."
Mace represents a conservative district in a conservative state that fought against integration and racial justice with everything it had. Blood was spilled in pursuit of equality. Mace and “respectable" conservatives like her play the same game as their 1960s antecedents. They sympathized in theory with Dr. King's cause but questioned his tactics. He was considered “divisive" at the time, because he demanded nothing less than a complete overhaul of the existing racial hierarchy. Black Lives Matter just wants cops to stop killing us, and even that's apparently too much during these more “enlightened" times.
Republicans, including Mace, have argued that it'll only divide Americans more if we impeach Trump or otherwise personally inconvenience him. After the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing that killed four Black girls, Governor George Wallace believed some “first class funerals" could settle things down and also preserve the racist status quo. Dr. King eulogized the four children movingly but he didn't hold back in his condemnation of the racism that took their lives. Damn right, he politicized their deaths. He could do nothing less, because he wasn't about to let them die for nothing.
These children — unoffending, innocent, and beautiful —were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death.
They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans.
They have something to say to every Negro who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution.
They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.
Republicans want us to believe that Dr. King was a harmless Uncle Remus who hosted a children's show where he encouraged black and white kids to share, separately, from their less than equal neighborhoods. Dr. King didn't change the world by making white people comfortable. No one ever has.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."