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Opinion | The pandering MLK quotes are coming

The same people who spend all year tearing down everything King worked for will be sending out his quotes.

Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington.

Brace yourself, because the Martin Luther King Jr. quotes are coming from Republicans today. Alabama Republicans, no less – the same ones who have repeatedly blocked efforts to stop splitting Monday’s state holiday between MLK and racist confederate general Robert Lee. 

That’s right. In Alabama, the holiday is split. And while we have no official state holiday solely commemorating a Civil Rights Movement leader – or the Movement itself, for that matter – we do have two days devoted to confederates – Confederate Memorial Day and Jefferson Davis Day – in addition to Lee’s split day. 

There have been dozens of attempts by Black lawmakers – and some by white lawmakers, too – over the years to change this. To do away with at least a couple of the embarrassing confederate holidays. To honor instead some of the world famous civil rights leaders that hail from Alabama. 

The closest we’ve come is Rosa Parks Day, which isn’t a holiday but a state-recognized commemoration day. Because that’s the most we could squeeze past conservatives. 

Nevertheless, the quotes will come. And these people who have leaned so heavily into the Critical Race Theory lie and who have fought to protect monuments to slavery and slavers will pretend that they are suddenly consumed with concerns over inequality and racial justice. 

In truth, though, they care only about one thing: saying whatever will help them get elected. 

On this day, tweeting out MLK quotes plays well. Every other day of the year, though, they do all they can to rip to shreds everything King stood for – from racial equality to social justice to voting rights. 

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They take great pride in their destruction. 

It’s understandable, I guess, since at this point it’s all Republicans have. They’ve given up completely on governing. At the national level, the Republican Party didn’t even attempt a legislative agenda this year. At the state level, the Alabama GOP’s agenda was filled with non-issues and vague mentions of real problems. 

And so, to distract you from the fact that they have kept Alabama ranked dead last in every good category and number one in every bad one – that somehow, despite billions in federal dollars, the working class in Alabama hasn’t seen a single penny of assistance from the Republicans who run this place – they instead lean on the one thing they know Alabama voters will fall for. 

Racism. 

That’s why we’ve spent the past year talking about, and banning, a theory that isn’t taught in Alabama classrooms. Because Republicans know that the surest way to rile up conservative voters is to mention that someone might be suggesting that the racism ingrained within America’s various systems – combined with an awful history of outright racism – might have given them some advantages over the years.

That suggestion, of course, is true. And there isn’t an American with a semi-functional brain who doesn’t know it to be true. 

They also know it’s untrue that school kids are being taught CRT. 

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But reality loses in matters of race and politics. And the shameless win. 

Which is how, for the past year, we’ve had people lying about CRT and using the lie to ban books on racism and alter the teachings of slavery and segregation, all while simultaneously using quotes from MLK to support their racist endeavors. 

Just the other day, in my email inbox, there was a message from some conservative group proclaiming that “CRT goes against the teachings of MLK.” And of course, the group used the only MLK quote – the content of character instead of color of skin quote – that conservatives apparently know.

There are literally thousands of other King quotes that prove his beliefs were solidly in agreement with CRT and that also show he was one of the most outspoken critics of the inherent racism within American institutions and the way it has poisoned the minds of many citizens. 

One of my personal favorites is this one: “Through an act of Congress, our government was giving away millions of acres of land in the west and midwest. Which meant it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor. But not only did they give the land, they built land grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm. Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they could mechanize their farms. Not only that, today, many of these people are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies not to farm. And they’re the very same people telling the Black man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”

The fact is King knew the truth: that America has a long and ugly history of racism that – no matter how diluted – continues to cause issues for Black Americans because such biases take generations to root out. And they often can’t be rooted out unless they’re identified and attacked. 

King would also know the truth about today’s Alabama conservative politician: that their pandering to keep confederate monuments and suppress voting rights and block the proper education of children on matters of civil rights and slavery and segregation does real harm. 

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And he wouldn’t be your friend. No matter how many of his quotes you misused on MLK Day.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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