There is probably no greater sacred cow in America than Martin Luther King Jr. The slightest criticism of him or even suggesting that he isn’t deserving of a national holiday leads to the usual accusations of racist, fascism, and the rest of the usual left-wing epithets not only from liberals, but also from many ostensible conservatives and libertarians.
This is amazing because during the 50s and 60s, the Right almost unanimously opposed the civil rights movement. Contrary to the claims of many neocons, the opposition was not limited to the John Birch Society and southern conservatives. It was made by politicians like Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, and in the pages of Modern Age, Human Events, National Review, and the Freeman.
Today, the official conservative and libertarian movement portrays King as someone on our side who would be fighting Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton if he were alive. Most all conservative publications and websites have articles around this time of the year praising King and discussing how today’s civil rights leaders are betraying his legacy. Jim Powell’s otherwise excellent The Triumph of Liberty rates King next to Ludwig von Mises and Albert J. Nock as a libertarian hero. Attend any IHS seminar, and you’ll read "A letter from a Birmingham Jail" as a great piece of anti-statist wisdom. The Heritage Foundation regularly has lectures and symposiums honoring his legacy. There are nearly a half dozen neocon and left-libertarian think tanks and legal foundations with names such as "The Center for Equal Opportunity" and the "American Civil Rights Institute" which claim to model themselves after King.
The article goes on to refute the various representation, and out and out lies the right attributes to King. The conservations claimed that:
1) King wanted only equal rights, not special privileges and would have opposed affirmative action, quotas, reparations, and the other policies pursued by today’s civil rights leadership. The Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding wrote a piece entitled "Martin Luther King’s Conservative Mind," that stated: "An agenda that advocates quotas, counting by race and set-asides takes us away from King's vision." The truth is that King openly advocated quotas and racial set-asides. In a 1968 Playboy interview, King said, "If a city has a 30% Negro population, then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30% of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas." In fact, King was an early advocate of reparations. King stated in his 1964 book, Why We Can’t Wait:
No amount of gold could provide an adequate compensation for the exploitation and humiliation of the Negro in America down through the centuries…Yet a price can be placed on unpaid wages. The ancient common law has always provided a remedy for the appropriation of a the labor of one human being by another. This law should be made to apply for American Negroes. The payment should be in the form of a massive program by the government of special, compensatory measures which could be regarded as a settlement in accordance with the accepted practice of common law. Predicting that critics would note that many whites were equally disadvantaged, King claimed that his program, which he called the "Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged" would help poor whites as well. This is because once the blacks received reparations, the poor whites would realize that their real enemy was rich whites.
3) King was a Christian activist whose struggle for civil rights is similar to the battles fought by the Christian Right today. Conservative Ralph Reed claims that King’s "indispensable genius" provided "the vision and leadership that renewed and made crystal clear the vital connection between religion and politics." In a speech entitled The Conservative Virtues of Dr. Martin Luther King, Bill Bennet described King, as "not primarily a social activist, he was primarily a minister of the Christian faith, whose faith informed and directed his political beliefs." But if we were to contrast King's positions with those of the Christian right we would see that this comparison is forced--it does not exist. For example, when asked about the Supreme Court’s decision to ban school prayer, King response was: "I endorse it. I think it was correct. Contrary to what many have said, it sought to outlaw neither prayer nor belief in god. In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right." The Christian right opposed the ban. Another example would be while King died before the Roe vs. Wade decision, and, had no public position on it, he was an ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood, even winning their Margaret Sanger Award in 1966.
4) King was anti-communism, pro-capitalism. Roger Clegg of National Review, in another article applauds King for speaking out against the "oppression of communism!" Though King was never a Communist and was often critical of the U.S.S.R., he did have a number of known communists and socialist in his circle. There was his closest advisor Stanley Levison, and his assistant Jack O’Dell, both Communist, and even Bayard Rustin was a former Communist. King frequently spoke before Communist front groups and even attended seminars at The Highlander Folk School, another Communist front. Regarding the free market, King was a great opponent of the free market economy. In a speech in front of his staff in 1966 he said:
You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry… Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong…with capitalism… There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism.
As all of the above demonstrates, King was not a conservative. In fact, King was very critical of America's leading conservatives of the period, Reagan and Goldwater. He accused the latter of "Hitlerism," arguing that Goldwater advocated a "narrow nationalism, a crippling isolationism, and a trigger-happy attitude." Regarding Reagan, King said, "When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor, can become a leading war hawk candidate for the presidency, only the irrationalities induced by war psychosis can explain such a turn of events."
Afrikan people in America remained the largest voting bloc. This gives us the power to determine elections. The Republican establishment, especially after the last thrashing they received from the electorate realizes, at least the more intelligent ones, that the Afrikan vote has to be split if they are to be successful in national politics. This serves the dual purposes of weakening the Democratic party, while it simultaneously strengthens the Republican party. They want to confuse you, and make you think that one of us was one of them--that King was a conservative Republican. Below is one of their hounds on the grind.