The right’s moronic and dishonest campaign to coopt Martin Luther King and make him sound like a conservative may have hit its high point — err, low point — when Michael Peroutka, former Constitution Party candidate for president and a genuine theocrat — went on the Steve Deace show and said this:
He (MLK) was claiming rights for people that were promised in the Declaration of Independence but never in that speech did he actually call for civil rights. He was a champion, I believe, of God-given rights, what has been perverted and now called civil rights, he didn’t call them civil rights, I believe he was a champion of God-given rights. He said in that address, he made it clear that he wasn’t saying the rights he was demanding originated in human government, but he said that a right to equality before the law is ordained by God, and therefore it is a right the civil government has a duty to protect and defend.
And once again we are stuck with the obvious question: Is he lying or a weapons-grade ignoramus? Seriously, how many statements from MLK demanding civil rights by exactly that phrase would we need to prove this wrong? One will do, but one could offer hundreds of them. Warren Throckmorton offers several of the most famous and easily found with a Google search, like his Letter from a Birmingham Jail:
I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
And his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize:
It is impossible to begin this lecture without again expressing my deep appreciation to the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament for bestowing upon me and the civil rights movement in the United States such a great honor.
The argument is just so stupid. Let’s turn it into a syllogism:
P: Martin Luther King fought for equal rights and claimed that God wanted us to have those rights.
P: I fight against equal rights and claim that God doesn’t want anyone but Christians to have those rights.
C: Therefore MLK agrees with me.
Throckmorton also notes the irony that the League of the South, the pro-secession, neo-confederate group of racists — on whose board Peroutka sits — has spent most of the last 50 years savaging MLK as a communist and ranting about the evils of the civil rights movement. Now Peroutka says, “Hey, he was on our side all along.” One would have to be ignorant, stupid or utterly deluded to buy that argument.