NRA: On This MLK Day, Won't You Please Remember The Guns?
US National Archives

It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which means it's time for the annual parade of bad-faith arguments from the Right. For a guy who was reviled by conservatives most of his life, King sure has come to be a popular -- if superficial -- talking point for rightwing idiots. We doubt many really believe he'd agree with them were he alive today, but hey, why not take isolated facts about the man and twist them a bit, to own the libs? Which is why the National Rifle Association would like to remind you that in 1956, King applied for a concealed weapons permit -- which of course was denied because as everyone knows, gun control is racist. Just think, if only King had been allowed to carry a handgun, he could have picked off James Earl Ray before he fired a second shot. (Yes, we know what's wrong with that sentence, though it's unclear whether the NRA would.)

Here's the hot steaming pile of turds the NRA dumped all over the man whose political movement was synonymous with nonviolent resistance:

This is seriously a favorite "Gotcha!" of the pro-gun right, which trots it out every January, as in a 2017 blog post titled "Gun Control Myth About MLK and the Second Amendment Debunked." You see, kids, kindly ignore that Ray killed King with a single shot from a Remington .30-06 hunting rifle he'd purchased under a fake name. You can't mention King in association with guns because in 1956, after his house was firebombed during the Montgomery bus boycott, King wanted a gun for self-protection and never got one, and for that matter he also had armed watchmen guarding his home during the rest of the boycott. That's just a fact, libs lose.

Oh, except that's a load of bollocks, too, because 1956 was very early in King's career, the boycott was his first big civil rights action, and he was just getting his feet wet in what he then called "passive" -- not "nonviolent'' -- resistance as a tactical strategy. And darned if he didn't eventually reject arming himself as bad for the movement, and morally offensive.

Both [Bayard] Rustin and [Rev. Glenn] Smiley took notice of the firearms around the King household and argued for their removal. In a famous incident described by historian David Garrow, Rustin was visiting King's parsonage with reporter Bill Worthy when the journalist almost sat on a pistol. He and King stayed up late that night arguing about whether armed self-defense in the home could end up damaging the movement. It was not long before King had come around to the position advocated by groups like the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

In 1959, King went to India to study Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence, after which he "claimed nonviolence as a 'way of life,' and he maintained his resolve under conditions that would make others falter." Here is Martin Luther King Jr. standing his ground -- but not with deadly, or indeed any, force:

In September 1962, when King was addressing a convention, a 200-pound white man, the 24-year-old American Nazi Party member Roy James, jumped onto the stage and struck the clergyman in the face. King responded with a level of courage that made a lifelong impression on many of those in the audience. One of them, the storied educator and activist Septima Clark, described how King dropped his hands "like a newborn baby" and spoke calmly to his attacker. King made no effort to protect himself even as he was knocked backwards by further blows, and later even insisted that he would not press charges.

Nonviolence became the operational principle of the lunch counter sit-ins and the Freedom Rides, and even if King had been granted that concealed carry permit in 1956, it seems doubtful he would have kept it after 1959.

Yeah, hell of a "debunking," gunhumpers.

Such idiocy has its educational-pushback uses, since until the NRA's dumb tweet today, we hadn't really looked any closer at King's onetime attempt to get a gun. Facts do have a way of coming to the fore, even from bullshit.

Still, might be nice if there weren't quite so much bullshit out there to push against.

[NRA on Twitter / Guardian]

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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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