Martin Luther King, Jr., as Conservative Hero

In Campus, a newsletter of the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a letter last spring from a student subscriber questioned comments about Martin Luther King found in the preceding issue's feature essay, "A Rage for Merit." This article portrayed King as a passionate critic of affirmative action, and this, according to the student, does not square with the facts: "Today's civil rights left-wing establishment correctly understands that King was a left-wing redistributionist and no amount of revisionism will convince them that he was really Clarence Thomas's mentor." Furthermore, "making Martin Luther King out to be a promoter of a color-blind society is like putting a proverbial pig in a wedding gown—it fools no one and annoys the pig. The right should stop this bad faith exercise and leave such games to the left."

The "bad faith exercise" already has legions of practitioners identified with the right. For more than a decade the "cult of MLK," to borrow the phrase of Samuel Francis, has flourished among conservatives and still has not been put on the road to extinction. "Conservative" Republicans Newt Gingrich and Jack Kemp were among the fervent sponsors of a King national holiday, and "cultural conservatives," led by Bill Bennett, Harry Jaffa, and the American Spectator, exalt King as the incarnation of the American...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here