Photo by Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández on Unsplash

Time to Truly Honor MLK

Not Offer Empty, Hypocritical Accolades

I hate trump, deSantis, greene, manchin, mcconnell, kemp, pence, biggs, mccarthy, cruz, jordan, perry, gosar, brooks, boebert, gaetz, cawthorn, clyde, paul, rubio, sinema and johnson 1,000 times more than you do and I apologize if I forgot to mention somebody who also deserves to be hated 1,000 times more than you do.
And if I hear one more hypocritical Republican comment on the life, sacrifice and commitment of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I am afraid I will just spit. Fortunately, I could find no comments from Republicans on the 2022 birthday of King. Evidently, even the Republicans have a floor to hypocrisy as they no doubt understand that even they lack sufficient gall to comment in the midst of their unanimous support of further, draconian limitations on voter registration and their unwavering opposition to any voter law suggested by Democrats. Those changes in voting laws are ushering in a new era of Jim Crow Light, hearkening to the days when all kinds of restrictions made it virtually impossible for many African Americans to Vote. The current Republican push will have the most effect on African Americans and other Democrats in urban areas and could likely mean a return to Republican majority in the Senate, setting stage for 2024 and a return of he who shall not be named.
According to the N.Y. Times, in the nine months since Republicans in Georgia passed a passel of new voting restrictions, 18 other states have enacted 33 such laws. “More than 30 states have concluded their redistricting processes, with extreme partisan gerrymandering locking in Republican control over legislatures in the electoral battlegrounds of Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas for another 10 years,” the Times reported.
The Times went on to say that “Confusion over changing voting laws, access, locations and timetables could cause some citizens to miss their opportunities to vote, experts say. Harsher penalties for voters and for election officials could deter people from voting for fear of prosecution over an honest mistake.”
Democrats are focused on getting two bills passed, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would reverse some of the harsher and more patently racist restrictions passed by state legislatures in 2021 by setting minimum requirements for early voting and and for what forms of identification are accepted at polling places, and by easing the voter registration process.
The Freedom to Vote Act would make partisan gerrymandering illegal, giving the Department of Justice and outside groups more legal tools with which to challenge politically lopsided maps.
While majorities of Americans support the voting rights bills before Congress, it only takes 41 Senate Republicans, representing just 21 percent of the US population, to block those bills’ passage using the filibuster.
Neither proposal seems to have a chance of approval by the necessary 51 Democrats, let alone any of the Republicans in the Senate. The only hope for victory would be if 51 Senators vote to suspend the filibuster rule, but that won’t get support from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, effectively killing any changes to end the filibuster and pass voting rights laws. The filibuster allows the minority party to delay indefinitely a vote unless two-thirds of the Senate votes to end the filibuster, a move known as cloture. Sinema said the filibuster is important to keep communications open between the minority and majority party
“We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy,” said Sinema, in explaining her opposition to ending the filibuster and clearing the way for positive voting rights laws. Excuse me but in what universe is there a chance for Republican communication, not mine.
I suppose in a perverse way, the Republicans in Congress are honoring the wishes of the King family who has asked there be no celebration unless federal lawmakers pass voting rights legislation, a task that appears out of reach as President Joe Biden and several Democrats have faced stiff Republican opposition.
Funnily enough, last year, around this time, there was no shortage of praised heaped by Republicans in support of King’s legacy, even while the birthday fell just 11 days after a trump inspired mob attacked the Capitol, an event that has since been perverted by Republicans who cower at the thought of saying anything even a teensy weensy bit critical of trump.
Of course, there has never been any great love and respect among Republicans for King.
In 2021, only 41 percent of Republican voters said that King’s birthday should be a federal holiday, seven points fewer than when the law establishing the holiday was signed in 1983.
Respondents to a new 2022, The Economist/YouGov poll were asked “Do you think that Martin Luther King’s birthday should be a Federal Holiday?”
Overall, 58 percent of respondents said “yes,” with 21 percent responding “no” and another 21 percent saying they were “not sure.”
Support for the holiday from racial subgroups was highest among Black respondents, 77 percent of whom said “yes” versus 10 percent who said “no” and 14 percent who weren’t sure. Among White respondents, support was lowest among White men with no college degree at 44 percent.
But by far, the lowest support for the holiday came from Republicans, only 41 percent of whom said “yes,” MLK Day should be a federal holiday, with the remaining 59 percent either against it (36 percent) or not sure (23 percent).

Here’s what a few honorable Republican members of Congress said about the King tribute in 2021.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, shared a tribute to King on Twitter, saying, “Today we honor the life and legacy of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Let’s join together and reflect on Dr. King’s message of achieving equality and justice for all.”
Ernst was a strong trumper, she opposes legalized abortion, has supported a fetal personhood amendment and introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. She opposes the Affordable Care Act and has called for reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. She rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. Ernst has opposed a federal minimum wage and advocated for the elimination of federal departments such as the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. All positions that Dr. King would likely gag about.
This year, Ernst offered no public comment on King’s birthday.
In 2021, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, spokeswoman, apologist and leading trump propagandist, tweeted out a tribute to King as a “hero.”
Last year, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called on the country to live out King’s vision. During the 2016 presidential primary campaign, Graham called trump a “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.” Pretty good stuff but by February 2019, Graham had patched up differences and made kissy face with Gen. Bone Spurs, so much for morals.
This year, no comment from Graham on King’s birthday.
Last year, Rep. Daniel Bishop, R-N.C., oozed sentimentality when he said that “today, we honor the life & legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He stood up for what was right & worked peacefully to achieve a more just world. I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
On Jan. 6, 2021, Bishop was one of 147 Republican lawmakers who objected to the certification of electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election after the storming of the Capitol. Later that month, Bishop voted against impeaching Trump for his role in inciting the mob to violence.
Last year, Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., was effusive in “asking my colleagues to remember the words of the legendary, the great leader in this country, Dr. Martin Luther King, who once said the time is always right to do what is right.”
Days after the Jan. 6 insurrection, Mace said “We need to recognize, number one, that our words have consequences. That there is violence on both sides of the aisle. We’ve contributed to it. We need to take responsibility for our words and our actions.” Mace voted against impeaching trump for inciting the attack.
In 2021, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, said King wanted people “judged not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.” With that DeSantis pushed through laws that bar schools from teaching critical race theory, which relates to the history of enslavement and the ongoing repercussions.
This year, no comment from DeSantis.
In 2021, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., also said that “Critical Race Theory goes against everything Martin Luther King has ever told us.” You are so wrong, congressman. McCarthy was a staunch trumper and supported trump’s lies that he lost to Biden because of voter fraud.
This year, McCarthy had no comment on King.
Last year, xenophobe and then vice president Mike Pence quoted King to “make real the promises of democracy.”
“He inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union,” said Pence who was trump’s leading grandstander.
And last year, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., noted that “On #MLKDay, we honor a hero who defended the moral basis of our founding principles.” Cotton once described slavery as a “necessary evil.”
This year, Cotton has been silent on the day of King’s birthday.

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Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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