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  • MLK Memorial: Remembering the Dream or Rehashing the New Deal?

    Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial

    Martin Luther King is rightly remembered for his dream, first articulated on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 48 years ago this Sunday, that the principles embodied in “the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence” would one day be vindicated and applied to all men, regardless of “the color of their skin.” Fewer remember that in the ensuing years before his untimely death in 1968, King gradually abandoned the dream of equal rights and sought instead “the realization of equality” through government redistribution of wealth.

    How fitting, then, that the new Martin Luther King Memorial, unveiled Monday on the National Mall in Washington, DC, should stand between the Lincoln and FDR memorials—the former a tribute to the greatest champion of the Founders’ vision of equality, the latter a monument to the President who redefined rights and expanded the reach of government like no one else.

    The location of the MLK Memorial testifies to the two incompatible conceptions of equality and rights that King, at different times, defended. In commemorating his legacy however, King’s earlier words and accomplishments should take precedence.

    From 1955, when he led a successful bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, to the Selma campaign that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, without forgetting the March on Washington and the Birmingham campaign which culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, King worked indefatigably to secure the civil and political rights of black Americans.

    To fulfill his dream of integration, King also advocated an ethic of self-reliance and hard work, anchored in stable family structures. And for those on the secular Left who are quick to appropriate MLK, the obvious should be stated: the Reverend King drew strength from his faith and inspiration from the words of Scripture.

    King’s true legacy lies in his struggle for civil rights and in his defense of the American ideal of self-improvement through work. This is why we speak of “Martin Luther King’s Conservative Legacy,” of  “The Conservative Virtues of Dr. Martin Luther King” and of “King’s Conservative Mind.”

    We do so, however, while acknowledging that from 1965 onward—in the last three years of his life—King increasingly turned his attention away from civil rights issues to fighting poverty and protesting the Vietnam War. In doing so, the exhortations to work hard gave way to calls for government intervention. As he wrote in his 1967 book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos Or Community?: “the ultimate way to diminish our problems of crime, family disorganization, illegitimacy and so forth will have to be found through a government program to help the frustrated Negro male find his true masculinity by placing him on his own two economic feet.”

    In focusing on the pre-1965 Martin Luther King, we do not conveniently cherry-pick those aspects of King’s thoughts that we prefer. Rather, we honor his great and distinctive contributions to American history. And these contributions owe more to Lincoln than to FDR.

    Posted in Featured, First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to MLK Memorial: Remembering the Dream or Rehashing the New Deal?

    1. Josh says:

      "Made in China"

    2. West Texan says:

      Nicely said David. Like many well intentioned patriots, King took a bite of the big government social progressive apple. Like Eve, he fell victim to the whispering lies of power grabbing demagogues. Personally, I respect MLK's bravery in peacefully combating centuries of racist attitudes in the deep South and around the country. His success, however, proved to easy a vehicle for the radical left's parasitical factions. As a result, the man and his message were highjacked by the very type of subjugating forces he tried to end. Frederick Douglas was credited with saying "Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.".

    3. Bobbie says:

      Dr. Martin Luther King had faith in the inner strength of men. An inspiration!!!! Having to resort to government intervention was out of sympathy and frustration to the lack of willingness and ambition, but to build that strength that has no reason NOT to exist today, independently.

      His words were taken advantage of for special Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, Louie Farahkan, Van Jones, the author of "white privilege," etc. and all the minds they've destroyed by influence, interests AND ATTENTION to capitalize on! ALL giving in to weakness!! All promoting hatred and resentment, choosing to deny their ability to reason!!! Not the representation of the Dr. Martin Luther King I'd like to remember…

      • Lloyd Scallan says:

        Bobbie – Unless you're in your late 60's, you "remember'" MLK based on revised history. If you can find the uneraced truth about just who MLK was and who supported the entire civil rights movement, you may change your memory.

        • Bobbie says:

          Thanks Lloyd. I guess I only relate the true words of his speech about the(paraphrase) "judge not by the color of a man's skin but by the content of his character." While each person has the ability to build their own character, no man is born with a choice in skin color or the ability to "change" it at will.

          For whatever reason Martin Luther King said the words, have it be a "cover" each word has true meaning every person can take for the benefit of themselves. Every person has self worth unless the mind is manipulated to think otherwise! people have to stop letting skin color hold them back from what uninfluenced intellect can do…

          I know the government is provoking racism for civil unrest to pursue to utilize the government make work, needless without provocation, better then the US military, "neighborhood task force!!" Everyone needs a paycheck no matter how unproductive. This needs to be avoided! We're Americans with the skin we were born in and our character as Americans is better then the need of a government controlled neighborhood militia!! sorry to go off, I get passionate!!

    4. Gayle says:

      Last line says it all. Eye opening article.

    5. money raised should be used to help THE PEOPLE….. Housing, food, clothes etc. It's a great idea and I hope one day to make a trip to see this GRAND Memorial for DR. KING

    6. Lloyd Scallan says:

      "History revisionism" should be used when the history and memory of MLK is discussed. Why has King's involvement with the Communist Party or their financial aid provided to the "Civil Rights Movement" in the 60's been eraced from our history? When we take an honest look at the condition of this nation today, we can trace the beginings back to 1964 and LBJ. How appropriate the MLK stature be made in the communist nation of China.

    7. Lloyd Scallan says:

      If you can find the "unrevised, uneraced history" of MLK, you would learn how approate it is for his stature to have been made in communist China.

    8. Steven Sicotte says:

      I miss his deep rich voice pleading with America to admit the truth, to throw off the oppression of segregation. He didn't need a tele-promoter, because he spoke from the heart. He didn't stutter from one lie to another. He was a man of courage, imperfect as are we all, but one of my heroes when I was a teen. It grieved me to hear of his murder as I served in the Army in S. Korea.

    9. TucsonTerpFan says:

      What picture/likeness did the artist use to create the face of Rev. MLKJ?

      That "face" looks more like Juan Williams than MLKJ.

    10. Lee says:

      Like Chairman Mao in 1960-70's, but they have things in common.

    11. VRWC says:

      why this need to claim ANY part of King's legacy as "conservative?" why can't we just admit that he was a very liberal person who happened to be right on his core cause, and maybe wouldn't be as right when it comes to today's issues, and that's OK? unless we want to label normal bourgeois values as "conservative," which is silly. there's plenty of people with strong "family values" across the political spectrum.

      i just find this whole drive to "reclaim" political figures misguided. it's the same as when people try and say Reagan was a raging liberal because he raised some non-income taxes and negotiated with Gorbachev, as if those automatically revoke your conservative card. MLK was a liberal, "content of your character" platitudes aside he'd probably agree with affirmative action and the general Democratic Party platform today, and he probably saw govt. intervention for anti-poverty purposes as the logical conclusion of his worldview rather than a perversion of it. like any other historical figure his accomplishments don't mean you have to agree 100% with his whole ideology.

      • Bobbie says:

        I hope he wouldn't be agreeable to the magnitude of the government's' overreach in personal livelihoods, pinning man against man, color against color. that's not freedom and doesn't result in peace.

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