Every year in January Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated for the powerful role he played in the civil rights movement. A moving orator, and a proven rhetorician; King recognized that, despite the injustices of institutionalized racism enduring for generations after its birth, the founding principles of the United States of America, if applied, were all that was needed to achieve his dream.
The truth shall set you free. And the self-evident truths acknowledged by America’s Founding Fathers held the key to unlocking the potential of the American idea.
Today, in 2018, the propaganda disseminated by the Left pushes the lie that Republicans and conservatives are racists at heart, hell bent on oppressing minorities, and engaging in a tribal philosophy that all men are not created equal in the eyes of God.
You and I know that not to be true. We know that the Republican Party was founded on a platform of abolition of slavery; that Republicans were the motive force behind the Civil Rights Act; that the principles of Individualism held tightly to by conservatives are the very principles for which King fought for.
Still, at every turn conservatives are labeled by the Left as racists and perceived injustices are met with violence by the Left.
Ever logical and stinging in her rebuke of the collectivism of the Left, Ayn Rand identified these emerging trends soon after the Civil Rights movement was hijacked by the Democrats and began morphing into identity politics:
“Today, racism is regarded as a crime if practiced by a majority—but as an inalienable right if practiced by a minority. The notion that one’s culture is superior to all others solely because it represents the traditions of one’s ancestors, is regarded as chauvinism if claimed by a majority—but as “ethnic” pride if claimed by a minority.”
The Left’s prescriptions for what they imagine are America’s ills are not a strict regimen of healing self-evident truths of Individualism that release us further into liberty, but, instead, a steady diet of institutionalized oppression merely with different targets, and administered by the ‘victim class.’
That target is the Individual – the most oppressed minority in all of human history. Generally, protecting the rights of the Individual is a torch carried by those on the right that stand for small, limited government and fight for the guarantees of liberty enshrined in our constitution.
In his ‘I have a dream’ speech, King warned of the dangers of such a militant group-think that risked falling into an immoral discrimination all its own.
“The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”
Indeed, conservatives understand and fight for the principle that each and every individual deserves a right to life, to liberty, to the pursuit and fruits of prosperity, with out any other qualifier other than that they be a human being.
How could the modern day Left so adamantly oppose these values while also claiming the mantle of Martin Luther King, Jr.?
King warned of this something that has contributed mightily to this confliction as well, writing in the student newspaper of Morehouse College in 1947:
“If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, ‘brethren!’ Be careful, teachers!”
Is this not exactly what has happened? Liberal colleges and universities seem to churn out so-called social justice warriors that fit this mold perfectly.
These movements justify violence when confronted with opposing views, and have indoctrinated generations of youths with “progressive” collectivism that is seemingly antithetical to the Individualism preached by King.
However, when remembering and celebrating the virtues of MLK from which we have all harvested benefits, it would be a mistake to not acknowledge how he himself was guilty of spreading spores that lead to blight when it comes to individual rights.
It is evident in his views on Capitalism, which sound very much like those of the modern day militant Left:
“Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.”
For all his powerful insight on the moral questions of his day, and of humanity, even King made the mistake of believing that Capitalism was a system of economics distinct from a moral system of Individualism.
It is not, and never has been – Capitalism and Individualism are one in the same.
The chasm that has opened up between the bulk of King’s message and the politics that the Left often carries out in his name began with these cracks in intellectual consistency.
So while we celebrate King today, amid a bitterly divided partisan arena full of hostile and collective labeling and assigned motives, be sure to champion that which was rightly powerful within his message and understand just why his memory seems to represent something very different to many activists today.
But beyond all else, take comfort in the fact that, in many respects, despite the poisonous atmosphere of “race relations” in America, beneath the surface of media sound bytes and political propaganda, runs a stiff current of truth in which our actual minds and personal relations among one another that daily carries us to a place King was only able to dream about.