Monday, January 16, 2006

Continuing what "legacy" of Martin Luther King?

My day off is meant to commemorate a man who did some good things but is hardly worthy of the only federal holiday to single out an individual. I dislike speaking ill of the dead, but let's follow the slang saying and "get real." (At least the Foundation for Economic Education didn't take the day off, sending out the daily newsletter.)

An article yesterday talked about the "rumors" of King's extramarital affairs. I thought that after all these years we'd have stopped referring to them as "rumors," because they're about as uncertain as JFK's infidelity. Very well, we all know (or should) the man wasn't a saint, but let's stop pretending he was by talking about "promoting his legacy," and let's give up the double standard. Do they want other men to follow the "legacy" by cheating on their wives and plagiarizing?

Let us be fair, shall we? Those are a part of his "legacy" as unavoidable as Jefferson's "legacy" including his supposed relations with Sally Hemmings. I'm in no way trying to mitigate how King promoted non-violent protests, knowing he would be jailed and beaten, to eradicate racism this country. But let's stop treating him like he was perfect. As National Review said in 1990, "We're stuck with our first affirmative-action saint." Had it been a white Republican male whose morals were at times questionable, the phrase "who had been known to have period affairs" would forever be appended to any mainstream media's mention of his name. "Caught and expelled for cheating" would be another unavoidable appelation, unless you happen to be "a certain senator from Massachusetts" (in fact expelled twice from Harvard). Boston University, on the other hand, bowed to political correctness: it admitted that King plagiarized parts of his doctoral dissertation, yet the investigation refused to recommend revoking the Ph.D.

Other "rumors" mentioned in the article are "feuds with Jackson." Again, I'd have thought we'd know them to be fact by this time. The evidence has grown since Ralph Abernathy's 1989 autobiography "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down," which refuted Jackson's claim that he cradled the dying King in his arms. It was actually Abernathy who did, and the widely publicized picture of Jackson standing with King and Abernathy on the hotel balcony was taken hours before the assassination. If you want a good source on Jackson's publicity bid, and how King didn't trust the young opportunistic sycophant, a must-read is "Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson" by Ken Timmerman.

The article went on to detail the fighting among King's four children regarding the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which apparently is $11 million in "disrepair." Two of King's children want to sell it to the National Park Service; two oppose it and are threatening "legal action." Beyond the fact that their family squabble could waste taxpayer dollars in years of lawsuits, why should the federal government use tax dollars (meaning taking money from anyone else) to buy a private endeavor? Where is the Constitutional provision for it, and where is the outrage when those who want to sell are merely looking to government (in reality, money coerced from everybody else) as the almighty source of the bail-out?

It doesn't matter if it's Martin Luther King's center, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello or George Washington's Mount Vernon. It's a wholly improper role of government -- at any level -- to purchase private property for the sake of "preservation." It's heartwarming to note that when John Washington, one of George's descendants, put up Mount Vernon for sale in 1848, the Virginia and U.S. governments weren't interested. After all, the governments of the United States and the several States (such phrasing is quite important) tended to obey the Constitution a lot more than they do now (though admittedly canals and railroads had already been clamoring for federal funds under the guise of "internal improvements").

An article today stated that at a church service yesterday, "[Jesse] Jackson says all Americans, regardless of color, creed or age, have an obligation to carry out Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy." An obligation? I don't recall signing a contract compelling me to any such action, and I don't feel "obliged" out of a sense of "thankfulness." There are two things I support and fight for: Jesus Christ and the U.S. Constitution, and I wish I did as much for the former as I do for the latter.

Mine is not an original thought, that King would be horrified at how his legacy of non-violent protests, of his children someday being judged by their character and not the color of their skin, has been hijacked by race-baiters. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Julian Bond and now Kanye West compete with each other for the limelight, but their method is the same: coercive government legislation to take money from some and give to others. And how effective has this social spending been? A couple of trillion dollars to wage a war on "poverty," which has reared two (and by now three, I guess) generations of black Americans as big government's dependents? Federal funds to build "housing for the poor," which combined with "gun control" legislation made the people easy prey for criminals?

How about massive increases in federal funding for schools, which attracts self-serving unions and many more bad teachers more than it brings in good teachers? With compulsory education laws and most state legislatures refusing to issue "vouchers" for private schools, it's no wonder black Americans can't get a good education. It didn't help that the Florida Supreme Court recently declared school vouchers "unconstitutional," or that the news reports the program as funding private school attendance "at taxpayer expense" (vouchers in fact are tax refunds for the school services the parents will no longer use, and they should properly not exceed what the parents paid in school-supporting taxes). Big government always gets in the way.

Some promised land. We might not have institutionalized racism today, but the plantation didn't really go away. It expanded to the entire country, and blacks' previously evident slavery has been replaced by servile dependency on the state. Meanwhile, more sensible men are out-trumpeted. Sensible men like Bill Cosby, who has emphasized illegitimacy as black Americans' self-destruction since at least the early 1990s, when I saw him on Arsenio Hall's show. A welcome newcomer is Morgan Freeman, who recently had this exchange:
Mike Wallace: Black History Month you find...?

Morgan Freeman: Ridiculous.

Wallace: Why?

Freeman: You're going to relegate my history to a month?

Wallace: Oh, come on.

Freeman: What do you do with yours? Which month is white history month?

Wallace: Well...

Freeman: No, c'mon, tell me.

Wallace: Ah, uhm, I'm Jewish.

Freeman: Okay. Which month is Jewish History Month?

Wallace: There isn't one.

Freeman: Oh. Oh. Why not? Do you want one?

Wallace: No, no, I...

Freeman: No, all right, I don't either. I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.

Wallace: How are we going to get rid of racism when...

Freeman: Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man, and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace you know me as Morgan Freeman, you wouldn't say "I know this white guy named Mike Wallace." You know what I'm saying?
What better fulfils Martin Luther King's desire for a truly colorblind society, in which people are judged by character and not skin color?

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