Larry Elder corrects the record on a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., often taken from its larger context. On Thursday, May 28th, the quote was the 11th most searched item in Google “A riot is the language of the unheard“
THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR deals with the above misquoting of MLK (misunderstanding his intent of that statement) very well:
It was inevitable that George Floyd’s death would spark protests against police brutality and that mendacity would characterize the attendant media coverage. True to form, the press affected dismay when the demonstrations devolved into violence, yet reported the riots with obvious approbation. The most obscene example of this was the widespread use, in headlines and ledes, of an out-of-context Martin Luther King quote suggesting that the civil rights leader would have condoned the mayhem. USA Today, for example, ran a feature story bearing the following title: “ ‘A riot is the language of the unheard’: MLK’s powerful quote resonates amid George Floyd protests.”
This grotesque misrepresentation of Dr. King’s views is only possible by cynically cherry-picking eight words from a 1966 interview during which he repeatedly emphasized that violence was counterproductive to the progress of the civil rights movement. Mike Wallace interviewed him for “CBS Reports” on Sept. 27, 1966, and the primary topic of discussion involved divisions within the movement concerning overall strategy. The myth that King had somehow endorsed violence went mainstream in 2013, when “60 Minutes Rewind” posted a clip from the Wallace interview and irresponsibly titled it using the same out-of-context quote. The interview transcript begins with this unambiguous statement:
KING: I will never change in my basic idea that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom and justice. I think for the Negro to turn to violence would be both impractical and immoral.
It’s pretty difficult to find anything resembling support for street violence or riots in this statement, but a subsequent question about the “Black Power” movement persuaded Dr. King to explain the impetus of the numerous 1966 riots. He cited the growing frustration caused by the absence of progress on basic civil rights for black people in general. King obviously understood that much of the community was growing very impatient. He also knew that most owners of property burned and businesses ruined during riots were owned by black people. This is still true. Thus, he continued to denounce the riots as self-defeating and socially destructive and insisted that nonviolence was the best course to follow:
MIKE WALLACE: There’s an increasingly vocal minority who disagree totally with your tactics, Dr. King.
KING: There’s no doubt about that. I will agree that there is a group in the Negro community advocating violence now. I happen to feel that this group represents a numerical minority. Surveys have revealed this. The vast majority of Negroes still feel that the best way to deal with the dilemma that we face in this country is through non-violent resistance, and I don’t think this vocal group will be able to make a real dent in the Negro community in terms of swaying 22 million Negroes to this particular point of view. And I contend that the cry of “black power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. (Emphasis added.)
The media have dishonestly plucked the highlighted fragment from this 175-word answer to create the false impression that Dr. King somehow viewed violence as a legitimate weapon in the fight for justice. In reality, there is no honest way to arrive at this conclusion when those eight words are read in their proper context. Yet USA Today is by no means alone in its misuse of this fragment. CNN uses the same eight words for the title of a Fareed Zakaria segment that begins with a deceptively edited clip from King’s 1967 speech, “The Other America,” in which he discusses riots much as he did on CBS. In order to launch the segment with the magic words, however, CNN edited out most of the speech, including the following:
Let me say as I’ve always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I’m still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve. That in a real sense it is impracticable for the Negro to even think of mounting a violent revolution in the United States. So I will continue to condemn riots, and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way.
USA Today, CBS, and CNN have lot of company. The Week, for example, ran yet another trite effusion titled “ ‘A riot is the language of the unheard,’ Martin Luther King Jr. explained 53 years ago.” This nonsense, like the rest, ignores the facts and includes standard fictions to once again conjure up an image of Dr. King as an advocate of violence in the cause of social justice. Among those offended by this mendacious exploitation of King’s words to validate violence is his niece, Alveda King. She writes, “I am saddened yet undaunted that a quote from my Uncle Martin is being taken out of context.… Some people are calling this an endorsement of violence, but nothing could be further from the truth.”……
MY RIOTESS THOUGHTS
I feel bad for the Floyd family. Not because of their loss (although that was my first emotion and care, was for the loss of their son… even if it was more heart related, the officer in question could have saved his life if he wasn’t kneeing his neck), but because I do not care about the incident all that much any longer. I am more focused on the fruits of a culture that has been brewing since gay author/professor first fired a warning shot over the New Left’s bow (the beginning of the culture war):
There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them…. The relativity of truth is… a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or so they see it…. The danger they have been taught to fear is not error but intolerance. (Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind [New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987], 25.)
These riots have nothing to do with that officers’ actions. It has to do with how a large segment of society brands people for seeking categories for society to adhere to (SIXHIRB: sexist, islamophobic, xenophobic, homophobic, intolerant, racist, bigoted). Unless people (a) counter these histories found in horrible university texts like the one pictured to the right with actual histories that work in the real world when applied… not some fantasy Utopia; (b) or at least invigorate adults to challenging themselves to enter into real conversations about our body politic (which requires discussions about our nation’s history, past and current politics, our nations roots in cities like Athens and Jerusalem), we will see more of this:
The Western world has produced some of the most prosperous and most free civilizations on earth. What makes the West exceptional? Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire and author of “The Right Side of History,” explains that the twin pillars of revelation and reason — emanating from ancient Jerusalem and Athens — form the bedrock for Western civilization’s unprecedented success.
All culminating in America’s “Trinity”:
Nearly every country on Earth is defined by race or ethnicity. Not America. What makes the United States different? Dennis Prager outlines the values that have allowed the American people to flourish and, unlike immigrants almost everywhere else, transformed those who arrived from across the globe into full Americans—regardless of where they were born.
One needs to also confront the idea that in the black community cults like the Five Percenters (The Nation of Gods and Earths) and Nation of Islam in some of these communities of color (an aside: if I had said colored communities — that is racist — but not communities of color). If MLK hated this radicalism, then why do people support it in the black community but rebuff it in the white?
King’s influence was tempered by the increasingly caustic tone of Black militancy of the period after 1965. Black radicals increasingly turned away from the Gandhian precepts of King toward the Black Nationalism of Malcolm X, whose posthumously published autobiography and speeches reached large audiences after his assassination in February 1965. King refused to abandon his firmly rooted beliefs about racial integration and nonviolence.
In his last book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, King dismissed the claim of Black Power advocates “to be the most revolutionary wing of the social revolution taking place in the United States.” But he acknowledged that they responded to a psychological need among African Americans he had not previously addressed.
“Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery,” King wrote. “The Negro will only be free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own emancipation proclamation.”
People [read here adults] need to challenge their beliefs with thinking outside their lifelong or university taught Leftism. Pick a site from the following and visit it a couple times a week [hint: Powerline will be the quickest reads]:
– just to name a few with good writing and represent some counter thinking to the CNN’s and WaPo’s of the world. They offer an excellent introduction to how Conservatives view our political landscape. Stop feeding these lies about American history based on emotion rather than testing one’s own viewpoints. PICK UP A SINGLE BOOK AND READ. Preferably one you disagree with and would otherwise read. If we don’t figure out how to do this, the cities that most need businesses and stability will lose them over and over. This is exactly what we can expect to happen:
A conservative think tank had to have their yearly meeting in an undisclosed place due to threats of violence, Michael Steele had Oreo cookies thrown at him, conservative speakers like Ann Coulter need body guards when going on to a campus when speaking (the reverse is not true of liberal speakers), eco-fascists (like this CBS story notes) put nails in trees so when lumber jacks cut through them they are maimed, from rapes and deaths and blatantly anti-Semitic/anti-American statements and threats made at occupy movements [endorsed by Obama], we are seeing Obama’s America… divided, more violent; [NOT OT MENTION] forcing Christians to photograph, make cakes for, and put flower arrangements together for same-sex marriage ceremonies… to pro-choice opponents with jars of feces and urine taken from them after chanting “hail Satan” and “fuck the church,” a perfect storm is being created for a real culture war… all with thanks to people who laugh at terms like “eco-fascists” and “leftist thugs.” The irony is that these coal unions asked their members to vote for Obama. Well, the chickens have come home to roost.
The chickens indeed are coming home to roost (Obama’s pastor’s saying after his “Goddamm America” sermon), just for the people that except such a bad ethos. With the NYTs 1619 project. Professors teaching a generation that America was and is the most oppressive racist nation. Media making things up about Republicans being racists since Goldwater. And the calling of a President who has Jewish religious kids and grandkids an anti-Semite/racist. The comedic newsers like Trevor Noah, Colbert, and the like confirming such lies to a millennial generation that gets their news from the “Jimmy Falons” of the world (not to mention CNN, NPR, WaPo, MSNBC, NYT, etcetera).
The publication of my new book, America’s Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the American revolution and the Declaration that Defined It, comes at a crucial moment in American history. Academic study of the American revolution is dying on our college campuses, and the principles and institutions of the American Founding are now under assault from the nattering nabobs of both the progressive Left and the reactionary Right. These two ideological antipodes share little in common other than a mutually-assured desire to purge 21st-century American life of the founders’ philosophy of classical liberalism.
On this point, the radical Left and Right have merged.
The philosophy of Americanism is, as I have argued in my book and elsewhere, synonymous with the founders’ ideas, actions, and institutions. Its core tenets can be summed up as: the moral laws and rights of nature, ethical individualism, self-interest rightly understood, self-rule, constitutionalism, rule of law, limited government, and laissez-faire capitalism.
The founders’ Americanism is most identifiably expressed in the leading political documents of the founding era: the Declaration of Independence, which Thomas Jefferson said was an “expression of the American mind,” and in the revolutionary state constitutions as well as the federal Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The classical liberalism of the founding era assumed that individual rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness are grounded in nature and that government’s primary responsibility is to protect those rights.
The anti-Americanism of the radical Left is well known and long established. Its most recent and most virulent incarnation comes in the form of the New York Times’s “1619 Project,” which claims that the founders’ principles and institutions were disingenuous in 1776 and immoral today.
Much more interesting than the ho-hum anti-Americanism of the progressive Left, though, is the rise in recent years of a rump faction of former Paleo or Tradcons, who have come out of their ideological closet and transitioned from pro- to anti-Americanism. The recent rise of the radical Right in America is distinguished from all previous forms of conservatism and libertarianism by its explicit rejection of the founders’ liberalism.
A new generation of neo-reactionary ideologues looks at contemporary America and sees nothing but moral, cultural, and political decay, which they blame on the soullessness of the founders’ Americanism. Remarkably, just like the radical Left, the radical Right condemns the philosophy of 18th-century liberalism as untrue and therefore immoral. It is the source, they claim, of all our present discontents.
Much has already been written on the 1619 Project, so I shall only briefly describe its arguments and goals in order to better focus on the aims and tactics of the reactionary Right.
Lastly, a word to the young—to those who have been let down or feel abandoned by the cowardice and unmanliness of Conservatism and Libertarianism, Inc.—know this: you have not been abandoned. There is a new generation of intellectuals willing to take up the cause of Americanism.
More to the point, you should know this as well: I will be, to quote William Lloyd Garrison, as “harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice” when it comes to defending the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The principles and institutions of the founders’ liberalism are worth defending because they are true. The reactionary Right is a dead end; it’s a dead end because it’s a lie. You should not let your despair turn you to the Dark Side. It’s time to come home.