Who Really Continues the Legacy of Dr. King?
On your right stands a group of young kids—firm believers in a universal Christian faith. Although they are not yet old enough to vote, the group is already politically involved enough to wear partisan headgear and attend political marches. Their attendance at the March for Life expresses a hope that, one day, America will rise up to live out the true meaning of its creed, by treating the lives of unborn children as if they were all created equal. When things went south, and the kids were faced with insults and threatening behavior, their response was passive, non-violent resistance.
On your left stands a group of Black Hebrew Israelites—firm believers that black skin gives a person unique access to God’s favor. This group is not concerned with the American dream or with the American creed—those are, they believe, convenient cover for white power. Like British Israelites and other groups with similar race-focused ideologies before them, these folks easily fall into antisemitism and racial supremacism. Neither indigenous tribesmen nor Catholic schoolchildren are spared their vitriol.
And yet, surprisingly, both sides consider themselves to be continuing the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Who is right?
Last Friday, selectively-edited video footage of this confrontation between went viral, and several progressive outlets ran with a misleading version of the story. The mainstream media was in a tough spot. If they corrected the Left-wing fake news by telling the the full story, that would have one enormous negative consequence. On the eve of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, they would be forced to condemn a joint black-liberation/indigenous-peoples’ attempt at political intimidation, and simultaneously exonerate MAGA-hat-wearing, pro-Life boys. The image of happy kids smiling down angry progressive radicals would too perfectly capture the contrast between the way Left and Right attempt to live out Dr. King’s legacy. The mainstream media balked.
Last year, I pointed out, in this space, how American evangelical churches are divided about what it means for Christians to be disciples of Martin Luther King. A divide in the broader political world falls along similar lines. American conservatives are, by and large, supporters of MLK’s dream and defenders of the American creed. American Liberals are, by and large, supporters of those who imitate MLK’s activism. A nub of disagreement is whether America is still a country that merits non-violent active resistance to ongoing institutional racism. This difference of opinion becomes a lens through which both sides turn their personal experience into worlds of alternative facts.
For neither side of the political aisle is the fight for Civil Rights limited to racial issues. Martin Luther King’s own children have tied their father's Civil Rights legacy to policies as diverse as gun control and carbon taxes. Martin Luther King's niece, Alveda King, leads the charge on the Republican side, boldly proclaiming that the new frontier of Civil Rights movement is the extension of a right to Life to unborn children.
Which side truly embodies King’s legacy?
This is the question Americans should be asking in the wake of the recent viral confrontation. Instead, everyone is asking: "were the Covington Catholic boys racist?" That is a red herring. The question is meant to distract Americans from a more important discussion. Conservatives who are screaming "fake news!" have fallen into the mainstream media's trap.
Let us not be distracted. Let us pause and consider which side of the political aisle is truly fighting for the cause of Civil Rights. Is it the conservative activists at the March for Life, or is it the progressive activists promoting racial identity? As we ponder, let us heed some of Dr. King's immortal words:
“We must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force … And as we walk we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead … We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their adulthood and robbed of their dignity … I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”