It’s that time of year again. Every year, on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and the anniversary of his death, politicians pay homage to his legacy — not by living by King’s example and fighting for equality, but by publishing contextless tweets applauding a man whose activism they would have fought against, were he alive today.
Here are 6 reasons the Trump administration may want to take a closer look at their own actions before pretending to support King’s beliefs and the legacy he left behind.
1. MLK is an icon of peaceful protesting.
Vice President Pence may have applauded Dr. King’s legacy on Twitter, but his accolades seem less genuine when you consider his reaction to the modern-day famous nonviolent protest: the kneel. Last year, the VP walked out of an NFL game, apparently disgusted by the peaceful protesting of a number of black athletes even though, funnily enough, their actions were perfectly in line with King’s methods of peaceful protesting. Maybe Pence is only a fan of courageous acts of resistance when the President says it’s okay?
2. MLK was not a fan of capitalism.
“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”
So said Dr. King during his speech to the Negro American Labor Council in 1961. And now we have a billionaire in the White House.
"So today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes," wrote King to his wife Coretta Scott.
Doesn’t quite seem to mesh with Trump’s beliefs, considering that he once called capitalism “a great thing when it works properly.” The world’s top 1% grabbed 82% of all wealth created in 2017. Works properly for whom, Mr. President?
3. MLK was a political activist targeted by the FBI.
Any support of MLK from the Trump administration feels especially hollow when you consider that the FBI targeted King for his activism to a disturbing degree. The so-called FBI “suicide letter” detailed what the FBI thought it knew about King’s sex life and warned him to do the “one thing left” with a deadline of 34 days. Today, the Trump administration may know a thing or two about waging war with political activists.
4. MLK spent his life advocating for labor rights.
King was an avid supporter of labor rights; in fact, the last speech he gave before his death was at a union rally, in support of African-American garbage workers on strike to protest unsafe conditions and low wages among other things, the Huffington Post reports. Despite the promises Trump made during his presidential campaign, once in office, the Trump administration went to work dismantling a number of policies that previously protected workers and unions. Slate reported on how Trump’s appointees “incinerated Obama’s labor legacy.”
5. MLK fought for better housing.
Ben Carson hasn’t exactly been living up to Dr. King’s legacy. As the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Carson recently removed language referring to “inclusive” and “discrimination-free communities” from the department’s mission statement. A stark contrast to Dr. King, who spoke out often against the deplorable living standards that many black Americans were subjected to, and pulled no punches, even referring to “rat-infested slums” during one speech.
6. MLK would have supported immigrant rights.
Sure, this one is open to debate, but with comments like “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,” it doesn’t take much of a stretch to theorize that Dr. King would have been against the persecution of immigrants (especially those who are political activists). It’s also hard to imagine King supporting Trump’s wall (or, as the lieutenant governor of California likes to call it, a “monument to idiocy”).
(Photo: Dr. Martin Luther King makes a speech at the 'Illinois Rally for Civil Rights' at soldier Field on June 21 1964 in Chicago, Illinoiis. By Ted Williams/Iconic Images/Getty Images)