Today, on social media, I’ve seen quite a few white Democrats admonish Republicans not to pretend to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy on MLK Day if those same Republicans haven’t spoken out against Donald Trump’s racist “shithole” statement.
This is a valid, necessary point; conservative hypocrisy should be called out at every turn. King relentlessly exposed the three evils of white supremacy, economic exploitation and imperialism—three tenets of the GOP—and all three were weaved into Trump’s words and in the regressive policies that this racist, xenophobic, bigoted administration champions.
However, I hope that while these white Democrats are (rightfully) calling out their colleagues and friends across the aisle, they don’t abuse this day by not confronting their own complicity in perpetuating white supremacy.
They should remember that King warned us that the white moderate is arguably more dangerous than the White Citizens’ Councilor or the Ku Klux Klansman. They should remember that he warned us about white moderates who preferred a negative peace, which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice.
They should remember that King called the U.S. government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”—and that we only have to look to Honduras, Libya, Yemen and the occupied black, brown and indigenous communities right here in this country to know that the same holds true today with the support of the Democratic Party.
It would serve the Democratic Party well to reckon with its own role in global and state violence. These so-called white liberals at the forefront of “the resistance” should acknowledge how loud their collective silence is while the most targeted among us continue without access to quality health care or education, while police officers continue to kill black, brown and indigenous people with impunity. They should admit that the Democratic Party aids and abets in the mass criminalization of black and brown communities every single day.
Whether it looks like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio refusing to stand with the family of Eric Garner in demanding the release of killer Daniel Pantaleo’s disciplinary record; Mayor Rahm Emanuel closing public schools in Chicago; or not one police officer being convicted of federal hate crimes under the Eric Holder-helmed Justice Department during the Obama administration for the extrajudicial killing of a black person, it is clear that white supremacy and institutional violence are party crashers—and that the Democratic Party cannot be exempt from excavating its own devils.
If the Democratic Party can’t do that, then, perhaps, it should admit that it’s crawling with actors who are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing—nothing but a “moderate” manifestation of the white supremacy Dems claim to stand against.