Monday, January 16, 2023


It’s MLK Day, and you know what that means – more rightwing bullshit about how Martin Luther King was basically a conservative Republican. I have already received an email this morning asking “Did the Deep State Kill Martin Luther King, Jr.?” (The premise is actually fairly standard conspiracy-theorizing on the assassination, but author Mike Hambrick apparently thinks the folks who believe a “Deep State” is trying to pump them full of microchips will comprise a significant part of his audience.)

In years past we’ve had bumper crops of such nonsense; the pickings are somewhat slimmer now as many rightwing outlets avoid the subject altogether or express only the most anodyne of sentiments. Maybe that’s because in these economically parlous times folks are getting acquainted with and approving some of King’s more radical ideas like a universal basic income – hell, even trimmers like the editors of Axios are admitting that the plaster-saint version of King conservatives like to push doesn’t tell the whole story (sample: “King repeatedly brought up the legacy of enslavement and the need to address structural racism in 1967 — comments that scholars say were precursors to critical race theory”). 

Still, National Review feels compelled to put its oar in via “ISI Fellow at National Review and a graduate student at Georgetown University” Bobby Miller:

What Reagan Understood About MLK

Doubtless this headline has most of NR’s readers expecting some revelation from heretofore secret Reagan docs in which the Gipper tells us what he really thought about that damned commie, but it’s really just standard-issue trolling:

…While progressives have long excoriated conservatives for having been insufficiently supportive of that movement, the historical record is much more nuanced than the monochromatic narrative they present. Admittedly, the Right has been far from perfect on this critical issue.

Well, Miller’s lost most of his audience there but we’re still here so:

But the notion that conservatives — those genuinely committed to safeguarding the legacy of the American Revolution and the promulgation of liberty and virtue — are somehow responsible for segregation, a cause championed by John C. Calhoun, the “Marx of the Master Class” himself, and other Southern populist miscreants, is absurd.

Yeah, that’s how most Southerners think about Calhoun – an apostle of the redistribution of wealth! 

One of the inconvenient facts confounding the left-wing account of the civil-rights movement is President Ronald Reagan’s establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

Those of us who were around know that a veto-proof majority in Congress and public opinion forced it on the old bastard, who found himself getting called a “sleazeball” by Eddie Murphy and losing some of the saintly patina with which his handlers had assiduously coated him. But Miller says that contrary to “conventional wisdom” and the evidence of one’s own eyes, Reagan was a big King fan because he said some nice things about King in 1987 and recognized that “irrespective of his views on how to best organize society, King believed that America is fundamentally good,” which attitude Miller contrasts with that of “contemporary social-justice warriors, who want us to think that the country is immutably racist and rotten to its core,” a not-at-all-tendentious rendering of the liberal position and similar to that of Ben Shapiro today (“group redistributionism and racial discrimination”). As the old saying sort of has it, when you don’t have the law or the facts, pound the strawman. 

I’ll add more later if I get a chance, but for now I’ll leave you with this from Deroy Murdock at the Spectator, who considers black wingnut Byron Donalds getting some Speaker of the House votes from Republicans and white Americans feeling bad about Damar Hamlin’s injury to be signs that racism is over: “If Dr. Martin Luther King were alive today and turning 94," he says, "he might survey all of this black success and warmth toward black Americans, smile, and say, ‘We have overcome.’” I’ll go this far: It would indeed be nice to live in that alternate universe where King was not shot to death for what he was trying to do.

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