But dammit, that Dough E. Pantload column on Sacco and Vanzetti, the one I missed by about three weeks, is stuck in my head. And Mrs. King died, and it was especially his steaming load about the late Reverend that's been following me around:
To be sure, Martin Luther King Jr. deserves his place among American heroes. But it's worth noting that what makes him an American icon, as opposed to purely a liberal one, is his vision for a colorblind nation. And colorblindness is no longer a core tenet of the American left. President Kennedy was hardly the liberal of Oliver Stone's imagination. And his brother, Bobby, was more hostile to civil liberties than John Ashcroft, eagerly wiretapping Americans, including King.
Last point first. No one will ever accuse me of being a Kennedy idolator, and the extent to which I find Bobby inspirational it was his capacity for change and his lost promise, not his career as a Red baiter. But he didn't wiretap King. He signed off on the FBI doing so because John Edgar "Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?" Hoover had the goods on brother Jack and a Russian woman. The Bureau took it from there, and its methods far exceeded what's covered by mere "wiretapping". Jack was assassinated shortly after the project began, and Agent Tolson's roommate declined to share any of the intel with the Department of Justice, though he did tip off LBJ. Hoover wasn't pleased when Johnson nevertheless developed a close personal relationship with King.
One is now tempted anytime Jonah states an opinion or displays a "fact" to ask him to name one book on the subject he's read. So it is here. I'd like to know just what grants Goldberg the right to expound on King's career, on the Civil Rights movement or the history of the US from 1954-1968. I think that "colorblind" is a dead giveaway he's just pooping the papers of his parrot's cage. Colorblind is the anti-"reverse discrimination" code word. Dr. King wasn't colorblind. He worked to free his People. He wasn't a racist, but that's a different thing. Events did eventually move him toward a greater concern with economic justice, something I doubt we'll ever hear the gang at the Corner sing his praises for. The idea that he and the guy who suggested New Orleanians "grow some gills" share a virtual vision of a 21st century America where black poverty is due entirely to African-Americans' insufficient contact with their own bootstraps is just odorous.
Which, I guess, is only to be expected. As I said somewhere, it's interesting that "colorblind" is a term of high praise for a black man in 1950s and 60s America, but the overt racism of The National Review of that era, like this editorial on the tenth anniversary of Brown, doesn't tarnish the idols of the Right:
"But whatever the exact net result in the restricted field of school desegregation, what a price we are paying for Brown! It would be ridiculous to hold the Supreme Court solely to blame for the ludicrously named 'civil rights movement' – that is, the Negro revolt . . . . But the Court carries its share of the blame. Its decrees, beginning with Brown , have on the one hand encouraged the least responsible of the Negro leaders in the course of extra-legal and illegal struggle that we now witness around us. . . .
"Brown , as National Review declared many years ago, was bad law and bad sociology. We are now tasting its bitter fruits. Race relations in the country are ten times worse than in 1954."
or, more to the point, Bill Buckley on Dr. King in 1979:
"When it was black men persecuting white or black men – in the Congo, for instance – he was strangely silent on the issue of human rights. The human rights of Chinese, or of Caucasians living behind the Iron Curtain never appeared to move him."
or for that matter, the unfettered racism in the Corner and elsewhere that followed Katrina like a levee breech.