While the rest of the media were gushing and fawning over the idea that Barack Obama was going to be sworn in on Martin Luther King Jr's bible during his second inauguration Monday, a surprising voice spoke about the hypocrisy involved.
On Tuesday, PBS's Tavis Smiley aired a discussion on poverty originally broadcast on C-SPAN Thursday wherein black philosopher and activist Cornel West spoke at length about why he "got upset" when he heard Obama was going to do this (video follows with transcript and commentary, photo courtesy UPI):
According to Peter Drier on the far-left website Alternet, Martin Luther King, Jr., “was a radical. He believed that America needed a ‘radical redistribution of economic and political power’. He challenged America’s class system and its racial caste system. He was a strong ally of the nation's labor union movement. He opposed U.S. militarism and imperialism, especially the country's misadventure in Vietnam.”
Wow. So King was the perfect man of the left? Er, well, except for one thing: “Like most Americans in his day, King was homophobic, even though one of his closest advisors, Bayard Rustin, was gay.”
During live coverage of Super Tuesday, MSNBC's Chris Matthews harkened back to a famous historical phone call from then-Senator John F. Kennedy to Coretta King, after her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was arrested, as he suggested that President Barack Obama's recent phone call to Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke would be similarly remembered as important to this year's presidential campaign.
According to an unbylined Associated Press report out of Atlanta tonight, when police move in to arrest members of a crowd which won't move when ordered to move, they "swarm." Nice insect comparison, eh? And in case readers didn't get the negative connotation the first time, the AP report used the word again in its final paragraph.
Here are several paragraphs from the report, including an unchallenged reference to Martin Luther King's "Poor People's Campaign" by the "Rev." Jesse Jackson (bolds are mine):
Martin Bashir's campaign to prove Herman Cain really isn't a black man continued Monday when he accused the Republican presidential candidate of skipping the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument in Washington, D.C., Saturday because he "really doesn't want to be overtly associated with African-Americans" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As Al Sharpton ridiculed Herman Cain on MSNBC's "The Last Word" Friday for saying blacks have been brainwashed into voting for Democrats, the reverend ended up proving the Republican presidential candidate's point.
Seconds after claiming, "What [Cain] does not have the right is to rewrite history by saying that blacks were brainwashed by becoming Democrats," Sharpton showed his ignorance of the subject by stating, "We went with a Party that stood up for the Civil Rights Act of '64 and Voting Rights Act of '65" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
No politician wants to be "Katrina-ed," observed NBC reporter Jamie Gangel on this past Sunday's "Meet the Press." Such reluctance doesn't extend to politics as practiced by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sharpton told listeners of his radio show on Friday how he was chagrined that city officials in Washington, D.C., pulled the permits for a "March on Washington" to coincide with the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. (audio after page break)
At a ceremony to honor the opening of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in our nation's capital Friday, the late civil rights leader's daughter Bernice made an historical error that would evoke tremendous ridicule and derision if she were a conservative.
"Lincoln remembered for signing the Declaration of Independence" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
How tone-deaf do you have to be to a) compare Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) to Martin Luther King, Jr. b) say the women who got Weiner's lewd photos were "hardly traumatized" and c) call on Weiner's wife Huma Abedin to call a press conference to belittle the media for attacking her hubby?
Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel made some truly disgusting remarks on MSNBC Monday.
Chatting with Ed Schultz about Saturday's "One Nation" rally, vanden Heuvel first offered a despicable racial comparison between the makeup of that crowd and the one at the "Restoring Honor" rally in August.
Next, the unapologetic liberal said Glenn Beck and Fox News "shamed Martin Luther King's great speech by appropriating that terrain" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Appearing as a guest on Friday’s Countdown show on MSNBC, during a discussion of conservative talker Glenn Beck’s "Restoring Honor" rally, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson dismissed Dr. Alveda King – niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and former Georgia state representative – as a "figurehead or puppet" of Beck because of her scheduled participation in the rally.
And, even though she and her father took part in the Civil Rights Movement and even endured having her home bombed in the 1960s, Robinson went on to suggest that she really is not one of the "keepers of [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s] legacy" because she is supposedly "estranged from the rest of the King family."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, August 27, Countdown show on MSNBC:
On Sunday’s Good Morning America, during a report which focused on FNC host Glenn Beck’s "Restoring Honor" rally and the negative reaction from civil rights activists like the Reverend Al Sharpton, ABC correspondent Tahman Bradley declared that "the crowd was almost all white, giving critics an open door."
It was after recounting that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece – Dr. Alveda King – was a speaker at the rally, Bradley noted the racial makeup of Beck’s event:
TAHMAN BRADLEY: Dr. King's own niece, Alveda King, spoke.
DR. ALVEDA KING, NIECE OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: We need to rebuild America.
BRADLEY: An obvious effort to try to show inclusion on this historic day, but the crowd was almost all white, giving critics an open door.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We're not giving them this day. This is our day, and we ain't giving it away.
And similar to reports on the rally that aired on GMA on Friday and Saturday, ABC used such labels as "controversial" and "conservative" to label Beck or his followers, but did not use ideological labels to refer to Sharpton, nor was the left-wing activist’s own controversial history mentioned. For example, in the opening teaser, substitute host Ron Claiborne asserted that the rally was "led by controversial conservatives Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin."
On Saturday’s Good Morning America on ABC, during an interview with Dr. Alveda King – a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. known for her pro-life activism – substitute host Ron Claiborne challenged her to defend her participation in conservative talker Glenn Beck’s "Restoring Honor" rally in two out of the three questions he posed to her. The ABC host asked if she was "comfortable aligning yourself" with Beck – considered "inflammatory and divisive" by "many people." After failing to get Dr. King to criticize the conservative talker, Claiborne seemed to appeal to her to "understand at least" why some agree with Democratic Congressman John Lewis’s assessment of the Beck rally as an "affront" to the Civil Rights Movement. Claiborne's second and third questions:
Many people call Glenn Beck's political views and style inflammatory and divisive. Are you comfortable, are you comfortable aligning yourself with someone who once called President Obama a racist?
Well, Congressman John Lewis, who, of course, stood beside your uncle 47 years ago and marched many times for civil rights, has said that Beck's rally is an affront to what the Civil Rights Movement stood for. When you hear that kind of talk, can you understand, at least, how some people could interpret it that way?
The interview with Dr. King came right after a report filed by correspondent Claire Shipman which, similarly to her report from Friday’s GMA, assigned such labels at "right-wing" and "controversial" to Beck, while the Reverend Al Sharpton’s own controversial history was not mentioned, nor was his liberal ideology.
The hatred for Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Americans that don't agree with the current direction of this nation was dripping from Chris Matthews' lips Friday evening.
In a show filled with falsehoods and anti-Conservative rants that should even embarrass folks at MSNBC, the "Hardball" host concluded by once again attacking one of the most popular radio and television personalities in the country along with the former governor of Alaska.
Of the "Restoring Honor" rally to be held in Washington, D.C., Saturday, Matthews asked, "Can we imagine if [Martin Luther] King were physically here tomorrow, today, were he to reappear tomorrow on the very steps of the Lincoln Memorial?"
The MSNBCer disgustingly answered his own question, "I have a nightmare that one day a right-wing talk show host will come to this spot, his people`s lips dripping with the words 'interposition' and 'nullification.'"
Matthews continued practically seething venom, "Little right-wing boys and little right-wing girls joining hands and singing their praise for Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. I have a nightmare" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
When Joe Scarborough wondered out loud "how many times can you set your hair on fire?" before viewers stop being shocked, you might have thought he was talking about Keith Olbermann, the man whose scenery-chewing soliloquies inspired an instant-classic Saturday Night Live skit.
On today's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe took turns ripping Beck's promotion of the rally at the Lincoln Memorial he's staging Saturday on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Riffing off a Colbert Show segment showing clips of Beck, Mika claimed he sounded like a drama student "on crack." Scarborough, suggesting Mika might have gone too far, surmised Beck might merely have taken "stupid pills."
It's well known liberals don't particularly care for Fox News host Glenn Beck, but wouldn't be comparing him to al Qaeda be a bit much?
On Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center claimed the lives of over 2,700 people. So what does that have to do with Glenn Beck? Well according to liberal talker Bill Press, Beck's plans to hold a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 are somehow akin to al Qaeda's worldview. Press demanded the National Park Service revoke permission for Beck to hold a rally where Martin Luther King had given his "I have a dream" speech 47 years earlier. (h/t Outside the Beltway)
"In a slap at both President Lincoln and Dr. King, not to mention the American people, the National Park Service has given Glenn Beck permission to hold a Tea Party rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 - 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King gave his magnificent ‘I Have A Dream' speech," Press wrote in a June 16 post on his blog. "If you ask me, that's like granting al Qaeda permission to hold a rally on September 11 - at Ground Zero. What the hell were those bureaucrats at the Park Service thinking?"
Lefty radio talker Ed Schultz ended his "Voices of America" tour in Asheville, N.C., last week by distorting a universally known quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. far greater that Sarah Palin's skewing of a remark by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Here's what Schultz said at the end of his "town hall meeting" in Asheville, which was broadcast on his show Thursday (audio available here):
I think we as Americans, in this part of the country, we have to step forward and we have to take a page out of history and remember what Martin Luther King said -- you must judge a man by the character of his heart and the content of his heart and not the color of his skin.
Agreed, Schultz is paraphrasing Dr. King's words and not quoting him verbatim. But even as paraphrase, Schultz's retelling is wide of the mark, at least to this observer's ears, and more closely echoes the views of a current political figure.
Salon writer Sarah Posner offers a scathing commentary on Sarah Palin's former church, the Wasilla Assembly of God. In fact, the sub-title itself spells out her opinion in plain language.
The church where Sarah Palin grew up and was baptized preaches some of the most extreme religious views in the nation.
Yet it was only a few months ago that Posner ran an interview she conducted with Jonathan L. Walton, an ordained minister, in which the two derive comparisons between the Theology of Jeremiah Wright and that of Martin Luther King Jr.
The contrasting pieces leave you wondering if Ms. Posner completely grasps the definition of the word ‘extreme.'
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith set the tone for the show’s coverage of Barack Obama’s upcoming nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic convention: "First, history being made in Denver today." While Obama being the first African-American presidential nominee of a major party is historic, the Early Show went far beyond the other network morning shows, doing three stories on Obama being the first black Democratic nominee, with numerous comparisons to Martin Luther King and the 45th anniversary of King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.
Meanwhile, NBC’s Today made no comparisons between Obama and King. On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Robin Roberts made only one brief reference to King’s 1963 speech at the end of a segment on preparations for Obama’s speech at Invesco Field. Speaking to editor-at-large for ‘O’ Magazine, Gayle King, Roberts asked: "And as we stood in the enormous empty stadium I couldn't help but feel the sweeping hand of history. I know my mother said she never thought she'd see this day. How do you feel about being here? We have seen grainy photos of the '60s of historic moments but to now know that we are also going to witness something like this."
In contrast, Thursday’s Early Show included four comparisons of Obama and King. The first reference was in a report by correspondent Bill Plante, the other three references were all by Smith. During a segment in the 7am half hour featuring poet Maya Angelou, he remarked: "Barack Obama was 2 years old when Dr. King shared his dream...Tonight Barack Obama will deliver another speech, loaded with history and promise."
In the wake of Barack Obama officially becoming the first African-American presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "This day, August 28, is steeped in history. Barack Obama delivers his historic acceptance speech and 45 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his 'I Have A Dream" speech. August 28, 1963, hundreds of thousands of people came to Washington, D.C. They came to march for jobs, and for freedom, and for equality."
Smith went on to describe Obama as the culmination of all of King’s efforts: "Barack Obama was 2 years old when Dr. King shared his dream. In 2004, Obama burst on to the national scene with a speech that paid homage to King and those who came before him...Tonight Barack Obama will deliver another speech, loaded with history and promise. And expectations are high." Smith also got reaction from poet Maya Angelou: "I mean, we all know he's going to, in front of our very eyes, metamorphose into Martin Luther King -- not really, no. He has a different background. He has, I think, pretty much the same dream. I think he had the same dream that any leader has for her people, for his people." Smith responded by adding: "A dream that would become the American dream."
Smith then wondered: "And if Dr. King were alive today?" Angelou speculated: "It'd be a lot of 'I told you so, we could do this.' To America, not to blacks, not to whites, and not to Asians. But to Americans, 'I knew we could do this.' Amazing, these are really historic moments we're in."
Forty-five years ago, the great Martin Luther King graced us with his vision of racial equality, and words that will live on forever as a symbol of his struggles towards unity. In 1963, King delivered his ‘I have a dream' speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a speech that still resonates today as a testament to his will and courage.
Now, forty-five years later, Barack Obama stands on the precipice of accepting his party's nomination for the presidency by delivering an equally unforgettable, charismatic, and courageous speech.
At least, that's what Stanley Crouch of the Daily News says others would like you to believe:
Thursday, Barack Obama, the son of a black man and white woman, will give a speech that many say has the potential to achieve the same level of gravity, ascendant courage and timeless charisma contained in King's speech.
Thursday’s "Newsroom" program on CNN, in a report promoted to be about how "controversial comments are nothing new to Jesse Jackson," was actually a retrospective from two years ago that largely glowed about Jackson’s affiliation with Martin Luther King, Jr., and giving the man a platform to answer his critics. "Newsroom" co-anchor Don Lemon, who interviewed Jackson in the report, remarked of his career, "‘How far soon we forget’ could be theme of Jesse Jackson's last decade or so. After all, it was him, marching or sitting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in all those civil rights photographs." Lemon did mention the leader’s extramarital affair in which he sired a child, but omitted the former Democratic presidential candidate’s bigoted "Hymietown" comments from 1984.
For general discussion and debate. Possible talking point: Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated 40 years ago today.
What were you doing that day, and what do you remember feeling when you heard the awful news? Might race relations have been different today if King was still around?
Why hasn't there been a viable replacement in the last 40 years which have instead produced folks like Farrakhan, Jackson, and Sharpton seemingly much more interested in advancing themselves than those they claim to represent?
When Mitt Romney stated that he saw his father march with Martin Luther King Jr., there was wall to wall media coverage reporting how he had to start backpeddaling. Even after witnesses came forward claiming they had seen his father march with him, the media story of Mitt fabricating the story still persists.
There are moments — increasingly rare in risk-abhorrent modern campaigns — when politicians are called upon to bare their fundamental beliefs. In the best of these moments, the speaker does not just salve the current political wound, but also illuminates larger, troubling issues that the nation is wrestling with. Inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, as does John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religion, with its enduring vision of the separation between church and state. Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better…
The day after we celebrated the national holiday of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Associated Press published a story seemingly meant to stir race hatred by bringing up the fact that in the state of Arkansas the memorial recognition of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's birthday is on the same day as that of King's observance there. Trying to fan the flames of racism by bringing up a Confederate general, the AP even seems to complain that Martin Luther King Drive in Little Rock, Arkansas is a shorter street than Robert E. Lee Avenue! How petty of the AP, eh? It's all not very I-have-a-deamish of the AP to so pointlessly fan these race flames, is it?
With the pointed headline, "Arkansas Lauds MLK, Gen. Lee on Same Day," and reminding us that King is a "slain civil rights leader," the AP wags a finger and lets us know about the confluence of celebration of the two men's birthdays.
The first story discusses the three Democratic candidates - Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards - and their appearances at various black churches on Sunday. Each candidate makes determined efforts to woo the African-American vote, while mentioning Dr. King.
The second story discusses the three Democratic candidates again, and how they chose to honor Dr. King today at various memorial services.
The three rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination stood together on the steps of the state capitol here on Monday in a brief display of political unity as they remembered the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
So were the Republican presidential candidates even aware of today's holiday honoring Dr. King?
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to two liberal politicians, the black Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, and black mayor of Washington D.C., Adrian Fenty, about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and asked Fenty:
You know, if we look at this statistically, it's not a particularly bright picture. I want to just put up a couple of statistics very quickly here. The frequency blacks feel discrimination in America. So high. Applying for jobs, renting or buying a house, dining out or shopping. This is a pretty bleak picture. Mayor Fenty, is this -- is this the America we live in?
This is not the first time Smith has seen America as a racist country, as he did in the wake of the Jena 6 controversy. One wonders where prominent conservative black leaders were for this segment, like former Maryland Lieutenant Governor, Michael Steele. Also, not even Smith’s liberal guests were willing to go as far as Smith. Fenty replied to Smith in a way beyond any particular race:
On the national holiday that celebrates the birth of famed civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., the AP decided to remind us all that there was more to King than the popularized view of him affords. AP says that it is a shame that King has been "frozen in a moment in time that ignores the full complexity of the man and his message." Who can disagree with this? After all, very often notable historical figures end up being turned into cardboard cartoons known for that one "frozen moment" in history that made them famous.
But, even as the AP argues that we should learn more about the whole of MLK's life and take a more measured look at his life and works, the AP itself whitewashes several aspects of his real life. AP never mentions, for instance, his ties with communists nor do they mention Dr. King plagarized parts of his doctoral thesis. They don't mention his distrust of capitalism nor his support of the concept of special treatment and quotas, an idea that strays from his acclaimed position of "equal" treatment. So, the AP may want us to avoid putting Dr. King "on a pedestal of perfection," but it is also a fact that they only want us to know some of King's real record instead of all of it as they claim.
Chicago Tribune Washington bureau Economics Correspondent and The Swamp blogger Frank James took inspiration from some recent comments from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), although liberals are likely to not be fond of the result.
James posted a photo (pictured at right) of President Ronald Reagan signing a 1983 law designating the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday:
Given the New Hampshire comments by Sen. Hillary Clinton about it taking a president to make dreams a legislative reality, for which she was excoriated by some of Sen. Barack Obama's supporters, and Obama's Nevada comments about Reagan being a transformational president, for which he was castigated by Sen. Clinton, her husband former President Bill Clinton and others, this seemed like an appropriate photo to run today.
Reagan Presidential Library photo via Chicago Tribune.