[Marxism] Answering the Right Wing's Attempt to Use Martin Luther King
brian_shannon at verizon.net
Sun Jan 15 12:36:27 MST 2006
Here a source to use to answer any right wing attempts to portray MLK
as one who would have opposed affirmative action.
The Right Has a Dream
Martin Luther King as an Opponent of Affirmative Action
By Paul Rockwell
. . . In the Washington Post (4/26/91), Charles Krauthammer pitted
King against diversity. Progressives, he writes, "have traded King's
dream for something called diversity.... It is the opponents of race-
conscious public policy who today speak in the name of values that
The National Review (3/20/95) trashed affirmative action with a cover
story depicting a black kid, a kid with a Mexican sombrero, and a
white girl happily climbing ladders, while two white boys fall down
"the slippery slope of quotas." The lead of the article: "The civil-
rights movement has strayed far from the color-blind principles of
Martin Luther King, Jr."
. . . When Gov. Mike Foster of Lousiana signed an order . . . to
abolish affirmative action, he presented the act as a fulfillment of
King's dream. "I can't find anywhere in King's writings, that King
wanted reverse discrimination. He just wanted to end all
discrimination based on color."
In To Renew America, Newt Gingrich praised King as an individualist
who opposed "group rights." And in promoting the "California Civil
Rights Initiative," a measure [banning] affirmative action, Gov. Pete
Wilson invokes King's name more than preachers quote the Bible.
Backers of the initiative show no fear of media accountability as
they claim King as one of their own.
Setting the record straight
. . . The term "affirmative action" did not come into currency until
after King's death--but it was King himself . . . who initiated the
first successful national affirmative action campaign: "Operation
. . . King staffers gathered data on the hiring patterns of
corporations doing business in black communities, and called on
companies to rectify disparities. "At present, SCLC has Operation
Breadbasket functioning in some 12 cities, and the results have been
remarkable," King wrote . . . . boasting of "800 new and upgraded
jobs [and] several covenants with major industries."
. . . As far back as 1964, [King wrote] "Whenever the issue of
compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends
recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree;
but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears
reasonable, but it is not realistic."
King . . . never confused the dream with American reality. . . . "A
society that has done something special against the Negro for
hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro" to
compete on a just and equal basis (quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound,
by Stephen Oates).
. . . King [once] compared affirmative action-style policies to the
GI Bill: "Within common law we have ample precedents for special
compensatory programs.... And you will remember that America adopted
a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the
King's reference to the GI Bill deserves an update, because Ira
Katznelson has shown how the GI Bill itself increased the gap between
white and black.
"In the immediate postwar period, Katznelson convincingly argues, the
GI Bill widened further the economic and social differences between
the races. Southern segregation meant that educational opportunities
available to whites were withheld from blacks, who were forced to
compete for a very limited number of places in all-black
institutions. Even in the North many colleges and universities
either excluded blacks or admitted only a handful. GI loans for
buying houses or financing small businesses were very difficult for
blacks to obtain because of the discriminatory policies of banks and
other lending agencies. Katznelson concludes that most government
social policies during the 1930s and 1940s were, in effect, part of a
vast affirmative action program for whites that left blacks further
behind than they had been at the beginning of the period. He makes a
Finally, a personal story that I have sent before.
Despite the relative privilege that she had as Assistant
Superintendent at Patton State Hospital in California, my mother
remained resentful for not getting the advancement that she felt she
Gizella Whitman Shannon graduated from Pennsylvania Women's Medical
College in 1932 or 1933 and served her internship in NYC. She wanted
to become a surgeon, but found that that was pretty much a closed
She first worked at the Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie,
NY, later in California. When WWII broke out, she responded to the
U.S. Navy recruitment for physicians. A certain rank was promised.
She was told that she could not have that rank because she was a
woman and younger male officers would have to salute her and take
orders from her. That dimmed her patriotism a little and she declined
The GI Bill is the best known source of benefits for veterans. An
added benefit for veterans was that extra points were added to civil
service exam scores. I am not sure if they had to pass the test
minimum before that kicked in.
Assistant Superintendent at Patton for many yearsl, she was also in
the top 3 for the Superintendent's exam for 10 years and never got an
appointment. (You had to be in the top 3 to be considered.) Those
ranked above her were there solely because of the extra points that
were added for the WWII service. There were no women superintendents
among the approximately 10 institutions at the time.
Of course this affected all women who took civil service exams in
California and elsewhere. Whatever score they received, a man with
the same score, but who had served in WWII in any capacity, ended up
with a higher rank.
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