The Big Mad: Abusing MLK's Legacy and Unearned Pride

click to enlarge Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 at the Civil Rights March on Washington D.C. - NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 at the Civil Rights March on Washington D.C.

Welcome back to the Big Mad, the RFT's weekly roundup of righteous rage! Because we know your time is short and your anger is hot:

Vanity of Vanities: Every year, the Missouri Department of Revenue releases a list of rejected personalized license plates, and while it's sad to know that Big Government won't let us ride around with "HTPCKT" or "3WENRS" on our cars, there was something else about this year's slate of vanity plate requests that made us hit the brakes in disgust: According to the list, four separate applications were entered for variations on a shortened version of "Proud Boy," the far-right men's group that gained infamy in Portland street fights and whose members also turned up at the January 6 Capitol riot. More notable is the timing of the vanity plate requests: All four applications are dated January 12, less than a week after the insurrection. Currently, federal prosecutors are still investigating whether more Proud Boys members planned the violence that day, and one member has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction. Apparently, just days after America witnessed an attempted thwarting of democracy, with Proud Boys at the center, someone (or some group) in Missouri was so inspired by the spectacle that they paid $15 for "PRDB01" plates. Next time, just use that cash for an "Idiot on Board" decal.

Recognizing Roy: To celebrate the legacy of a legendary champion of civil rights, the Missouri MLK Commission bestowed its Dr. Henry Givens Legacy Award on none other than Roy Blunt. Yes, you read that correctly. Senator Blunt got an award meant to honor the man who dedicated his life to increasing voting rights for Black Americans while Blunt's own party (and, sure, two Democrats) do everything they can to prevent the preservation and expansion of those gains. The Reverend Darryl Gray summed it up on Twitter, calling Blunt's award an "affront to one of the greatest civil rights icons in American history."

Of Missouri's two senators, Blunt is no doubt the sanest one with the fewest insurrectionist sympathies. So if the retiring senator must receive a plaque, ribbon or some accouterment, let's give him the inaugural "Did Not Participate" award. It could acknowledge that Blunt, unlike many others in his party, has not actively egged on stolen election conspiracies, nor has he equivocated on the January 6 insurrection. Good for him. Instead, he's stood idly by as his Republican colleagues engage in those behaviors. When Blunt, who would have been up for re-election, realized he was going to have to go full crazy or speak truth to a Republican primary base unwilling to hear it, he bravely chose to GTFO. Conservatives often complain we live in a society that praises mediocrity. If Blunt is now what counts as a profile in courage, they might be onto something.

Never Tweet: In another round of Politicians Completely Missing The Fucking Point: Martin Luther King Jr. edition, Missouri Representative Nick Schroer and Attorney General Eric Schmitt dedicated their first tweets of the day to popular MLK Jr. quotes. Piles of Missouri Republicans officials did the same, and Twitter users of the region promptly pointed out the hypocrisy of politicians who cry "Critical Race Theory" to undermine racial justice efforts.

In case the two missed a history class (or several), MLK Jr has several other quotes. Here are a few:

"The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation."

"We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now."

"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice."

In other words, King stood staunchly against what Schmitt and Schroer campaign on. Unlike Schmitt and Schroer, King fought for workers,' voters' and human rights. Quoting him as if they're honoring and celebrating his legacy is a slap in the face — and something King's daughter Bernice specifically asked people not to do.

If Schroer and Schmitt think they are not exactly the type of people King would fight against were he alive today, they are dead wrong. But by now they're completely comfortable being wrong and pretending that they're right. 

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