What Glenn Beck Forgot About Martin Luther King Jr.
King supported labor unions and affirmative action -- and he would have voted for Barack Obama.
It is true that laws cannot change internal prejudiced attitudes, but they can control the external effects of bad attitudes. While a law cannot make an employer have compassion for an employee, it can keep him from refusing to hire individuals because of the color of their skin. Laws do not change attitudes, but at least they control behavior. We need laws to change the habits of men while we wait on religion and education to change their hearts.
King's 1967 Poor People's Campaign was a direct appeal to increase federal assistance for those whom his lieutenant, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, described as "Americans who have not been given a fair share of America's wealth and opportunity." The campaign fizzled, but its outlook was a far cry from Tea Party Economics 101.
King wouldn't like Obama's foreign policy, but he would have supported healthcare reform -- not based on the president's case for "bending the cost curve," but because he'd see it as a moral obligation.
And it's pretty hard to imagine that King wouldn't have been first in line to vote for Obama in 2008, especially when you consider this:
Which doesn't mean that Beck can't admire King and denounce Obama at the same time. But being a King fan is sort of like being a Yankees fan or putting ketchup on your Freedom Fries. It's the apple-pie, all-American thing to do. Since Beck surely considers himself a red-blooded all-American, it's only natural that he'd be looking to King for inspiration. What's not quite clear is why he's trying to convince his conservative flock that King was one of them.
David Swerdlick is a regular contributor to The Root. Follow him on Twitter.