Wednesday, January 17, 2007
From The New York Daily News…
Black Republicans have gall to call Dr. King one of them
By E.R. Shipp
Some boneheads who think of themselves as the black vanguard of the Republican Party have managed to offend not just Democrats but also Republicans in a new ad campaign claiming that, were he alive today, Martin Luther King Jr. would be one of them.
“Dr. King was a real man. You know he was a Republican,” a hands-on-her-hips sounding female says in the radio spot. Not only are Republicans every black person’s friend, she says, but — by promoting same-sex marriage and abortion for teenagers without parental consent — Democrats are enemies to all that’s traditional about black life. “Democrats have talked the talk, but the Republicans have walked the walk,” the ad actress goes on to say, in what can only be called a delusional conversation in a universe parallel to the one in which we live.
The ads are intended to boost the candidacies of Maryland’s Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who is campaigning for the U.S. Senate, and Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who wants to become governor — both of whom are black and Republican. But unless the residents of both states have terrible memories and intellects to match, they will fail miserably.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), whose bona fides in the black American struggle for civil rights are unparalleled, put it this way. “I knew Martin Luther King Jr.,” he said. “He was my friend. He was my colleague. We worked together, and I know that he voted for John F. Kennedy, the Democratic candidate for President, in 1960. I know he voted for Lyndon Johnson for president in 1964 and not Barry Goldwater. And if he had lived, he would have voted for Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and not the Republican candidate Richard Nixon.”
Fortunately, one of the men the ads are supposed to help — Michael Steele himself — has demanded that these “slash-and-burn partisan politics” stop — and the ad campaign end.
Good for him. King was a lot of things, but, especially given that he was assassinated 38 years ago, he was not a Republican of the 2006 mold.
Can you imagine King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign being led by George Bush or Trent Lott or Dennis Hastert? These are the folks who don’t want to raise the minimum wage, which, even raised, would be inadequate. These are the folks who cannot figure out a way to make health insurance universally available. These are the folks who talk loud while doing nothing to promote what King called “the beloved community” — a way for all of us to live in this world in peace and harmony.
“Both parties made mistakes and blunders when it came to the issues of civil rights and race,” Lewis has said, “but the great majority of African Americans identify with the Democratic Party because of its great history of championing the causes of those who have been left out and left behind.”
The National Black Republican Association, which refuses to respond to telephone calls or e-mail messages, should be ashamed of itself. If it really believes in the message of the GOP in 2006, it needs to try making that case on its own merits — and not confuse attention-deficit disordered Americans by distorting and abusing a great man’s proud legacy.