On this, the holiest day of modern America’s liturgical calendar, we should revisit Samuel Francis’s writing on the significance of Martin Luther King Jr.
Yet, incredibly — even after thorough documentation of King’s affiliations with communists, after the revelations about his personal moral flaws, and after proof of his brazen dishonesty in plagiarizing his dissertation and several other published writings — incredibly there is no proposal to rescind the holiday that honors him. Indeed, states like Arizona and New Hampshire that did not rush to adopt their own holidays in honor of King have been vilified and threatened with systematic boycotts. The continuing indulgence of King is in part due to simple political cowardice — fear of being denounced as a “racist” — but due also to the political utility of the King holiday for those who seek to advance their own political agenda. Almost immediately upon the enactment of the holiday bill, the King holiday came to serve as a kind of charter for the radical regime of “political correctness” and “multiculturalism” that now prevails at many of the nation’s major universities and in many areas of public and private life…
To those of King’s own political views, then, the true meaning of the holiday is that it serves to legitimize the radical social and political agenda that King himself favored and to delegitimize traditional American social and cultural institutions — not simply those that supported racial segregation but also those that support a free market economy, an anti-communist foreign policy, and a constitutional system that restrains the power of the state rather than one that centralizes and expands power for the reconstruction of society and the redistribution of wealth. In this sense, the campaign to enact the legal public holiday in honor of Martin Luther King was a small first step on the long march to revolution, a charter by which that revolution is justified as the true and ultimate meaning of the American identity. In this sense, and also in King’s own sense, as he defined it in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, the Declaration of Independence becomes a “promissory note” by which the state is authorized to pursue social and economic egalitarianism as its mission, and all institutions and values that fail to reflect the dominance of equality — racial, cultural, national, economic, political, and social — must be overcome and discarded.
By placing King — and therefore his own radical ideology of social transformation and reconstruction — into the central pantheon of American history, the King holiday provides a green light by which the revolutionary process of transformation and reconstruction can charge full speed ahead. Moreover, by placing King at the center of the American national pantheon, the holiday also serves to undermine any argument against the revolutionary political agenda that it has come to symbolize. Having promoted or accepted the symbol of the new dogma as a defining — perhaps the defining — icon of the American political order, those who oppose the revolutionary agenda the symbol represents have little ground to resist that agenda.
Sam is all too correct that “MLK writ large” has become the foundation of American identity; and in many ways, the situation is far worse than he depicted it in this 1998 article (which appeared in American Renaissance).
At the time, Sam described a pitched battle between MLK’s egalitarian “Dream” and “traditional American social and cultural institutions,” which he describes, in Cold War language, as “anti-Communist foreign policy” and Constitutional liberty.
What Sam might not have grasped in 1998, but understood fully later, is that by the turn of the 21st century, the MLK counter-culture was (and is)the Establishment. There are precious few “traditional American social and cultural institutions” that do not honor MLK and, indeed, treat “The Dream” as informing their missions.
And this is not solely the case for the more overtly liberal ones like the Department of Education. No less a putative bastion of conservative values than the U.S. Army is led by men like Four-Star General George Casey, who in 2009, in response to a Muslim Army Major who murdered 13 of his fellow soldiers as an act of Jihad, averred,
What happened in Fort Hood was a tragedy. But I believe it would become an even greater tragedy if our Diversity becomes a casualty. And it’s not just about Muslims. We have a very diverse Army; we have a very diverse society; and that gives us all strength.
MLK certainly unites the Left (tactical disputes between Malcolm X and the pacifist reverend have long since gone by the wayside). And in a strange way, he unites the Right as well. “Judged By The Content Of Their Character” is the central (if not sole) argument against multiculturalism and affirmative action offered forth by self-styled “conservatives.” And King is counted as an American icon and hero not only at left-wing and liberal gatherings but at those of the “Religious Right” and Beltway Republicans.
A one Glenn Beck—who in his radio and television programs and mass rallies, has created a kind of ideology or religion of MLK—might actually turn Sam’s polemic on its head and claim that MLK is the hero of American foreign policy and Constitutional government. And he would, in a sense, be correct—even in the matter of foreign affairs, in which Washington’s violent incursions into the Middle East are accompanied by promises that all shall vote, women shall attain undergraduate educations, and minorities shall be empowered.
The Conservative MLK Fantasy
Despite conservatives’ wishful thinking, “The Dream”—in all its manifestations—is the antithesis of a free society. Government’s enforcing that all people and businesses judge non-racially is in itself a totalitarian notion and has, in fact, resulted in a massive interventionist infrastructure and bureaucracy. (Rand Paul tepidly hinted at as much during his 2010 Senate campaign.) The costs of the industry of “civil rights” and “diversity training” in the workplace can be measured in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions, per year. (And pace conservative revisionism, the actual Martin Luther King unequivocally advocated most all of the measures done in his name.)
More deeply, “non-discrimination” as a value is the enemy of all tradition, not just the Anglo-Saxon American society it has helped destroy. “The Dream” (as it was articulated) images the individual as a race-less, family-less, class-less, history-less atom—happily experiencing equality with other atoms of various colors, all integrated by the marketplace and government. Conservatives might think it cute to quote some of King's more libertarian utterances back at liberals, as a form of PC Judo. But in the end, they will be the losers of such a gambit.
We must overcome!