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The Continued Branding and Co-optation of MLK

 

“Martin Luther King Jr. stood for revolutionary transformation; he is used today to support policies that he fought against.” [Source: The Co-opted MLK]

 

DeRay - McKesson-as-Martin-Luther-King-Jr-1024x602

Above image from Style Influencers Group: “Activist, Organizer and Baltimore Mayoral Candidate Deray Mckesson as Martin Luther King, Jr., Nick Graham shirt and tie, Stylist’s own ring.”

Style Influencers Group, Connecting Influencers and Brands: “With a network of the most powerful influencers in the digital space, SIG is the best option to connect dynamic brands with high quality content creators. SIG fosters meaningful relationships between consumers and brands by creating organic awareness, driving consumer engagement, and boosting brand loyalty among a multicultural audience with billions of dollars in spending power.”

 

Style Influencers Group Partners

WATCH: Dr. Sohail Daulatzai: “Welcome to the Terrordome”

Published on May 22, 2013

“As the profound anti-Muslim racism of the post-9/11 era deepens, the role and place of Muslims in the U.S. is under intense scrutiny by both Muslims and non-Muslims, as questions around “radicalization,” citizenship, and belonging continue the shape these debates. But the fears of Islam and Muslims in the United States are not new. In fact, they can be traced back to the presence and legacy of Malcolm X, who sought to internationalize the struggles of Black people in the U.S. and connect them with the struggles taking place throughout the non-white world. As Malcolm X said, “the same rebellion, the same impatience, the same anger that exists in the hearts of the dark people in Africa and Asia, is existing in the hearts and minds of 20 million black people in this country who have been just as thoroughly colonized as the people in Africa and Asia.”

In framing white supremacy as a global phenomenon, and understanding the systemic roots of inequality, Malcolm X provides us with a historic lens and contemporary frame for thinking about the role and place of Muslims in the United States, as endless war is waged, racism persists and capitalism wreaks havoc around the world.”

 

 

 

[Sohail Daulatzai is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Program in African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America (2012) and is the co-editor (with Michael Eric Dyson) of Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic (2009). His writing has appeared in The Nation, Counterpunch, Al Jazeera, Souls, Amer-Asia, Black Routes to Islam, and Basketball Jones, amongst others. He has written liner for the 2012 release of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set of Rage Against the Machine’s self titled debut album, the liner notes for the DVD release of Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme and the centerpiece in the museum catalog Movement: Hip-Hop in L.A., 1980’s — Now.]

Keystone XL | The Ivory Towers Crushing the Last Remnants of Climate Justice

By Cory Morningstar

January 20, 2011

 

A recent article was posted to an International Climate Justice Now! listserv written by “agent” Jamie Henn of 350.org/1Sky/Tar Sands Action. The 16 January 2012 article titled “Grassroots Strategy Is Key to Winning Keystone XL Fight” gave the impression that the mainstream green groups were a magnificent force to be dealt with due to an unprecedented “grassroots” effort united.

Really?

It appears he missed Tom Goldtooth’s (Indigenous Environmental Network) interview published 5 December 2011 by The Africa Report:

“We have challenged, and become very unpopular for raising the issue of, classism, which is [a] source of the problem and requires an economic analysis if the environmental and climate narrative is to be truthful…. Look at 350.org – we had to challenge them to bring us to stand with them on the pipeline issue. Bill McKibben, the ivory tower white academic, didn’t even want to take the time to bring people of colour to the organising. We managed a negotiation that allowed for both groups to unite.” … “Well, it is always the case with the media that ‘white is right’ or that global issues affecting people of color on the frontline should be represented by the type of voices that don’t engage, in a threatening way, the realities of capitalism. There are also many fashionable voices that become part of the establishment in the sense that while they do espouse the truth, it [does] not pose a threat for change, for ending the system, because someone has adopted a cause that they were not born into. The communities that live in the cancer hotspots, in the immediate environment, their voices are too real, too threatening. Meanwhile, infiltration continues – …”

 

When I start seeing articles posted on an international climate justice listserv from 350.org celebrating NRDC [1]and friends, co-opting MLK (Martin Luther King, Jr.) for their own (branding) purposes and legitimising the Obama tagline “Yes We Can” (language that in turn gives “hope” that citizens may see “a certain young senator from Illinois” re-emerge), with no dissent to be found, it tells me that my good friend and legitimate activist Sandy was right. This Climate Justice Network has become CAN (Climate Action Network)[2] in drag. [January 2012: “But as an openly gay man can I say that sometimes I read the cjn postings and feel like cjn at times is becoming CAN in drag, in other words we have been infiltrated, so I wonder whether it is too late to lock the chicken coop when the fox is already inside.”]

WATCH: THE REAL Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING | Dr. Tony Monteiro

WATCH: THE REAL Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING | Dr. Tony Monteiro

This is a presentation given by Dr. Tony Monteiro at the January 15th, 2012 gathering of the Philadelphia Chapter if N’COBRA , (The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America.), titled “THE REAL REVEREND Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr.” Also in the panel discussion was Attorney Michael Coard, Sister Nadine Lester, and Dr. Faruq Iman.

A complete recording of this event is available … Please email for more information…www.ncobraphiladelphia.org

See also “DON’T LET CONSERVATIVES CO-OPT DR. KING’S PROGRESSIVE SOCIAL JUSTICE LEGACY” and “The Revolutionary MLK”:

http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2012/01/19/the-co-opted-mlk/

 

 

The Co-Opted MLK

Don’t Let Conservatives Co-Opt Dr. King’s Progressive Social Justice Legacy

January 13, 2012

By Winning Progressive

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler 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; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

 

One of the most outlandish conservative arguments we’ve heard over the past few years is that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. should somehow be considered a conservative. Dr. King was perhaps our nation’s leading advocate of social justice and equality in the 20th century. Through his philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience, his leadership abilities, and his amazing oratorical skills, Dr. King was the primary (though far from the only) leader of the Civil Rights movement that fundamentally transformed American society and ended the injustice that was legal segregation in America. Dr. King also worked hard to alleviate the economic inequality that denied too many Americans a fair chance in life, and to end a militaristic foreign policy that denied justice to people overseas and deprived our country of the resources needed to achieve justice here in the U.S.

The conservative attempt to co-opt Dr. King as one of their own appears to be based on two points. The first is Dr. King’s famous quote about judging people based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, which conservatives take to be a statement in favor of individualism and in opposition to things such as affirmative action. But such a reading ignores the fact that Dr. King was identifying such colorblindness as an ultimate goal that was going to require massive societal and individual action, and a radical transformation in values to achieve. To extrapolate conservatism from that quote while ignoring the civil disobedience, political organizing, and speeches that Dr. King carried out to get to the goal identified in that quote is facile at best.

The second basis for the conservatives’ attempted co-opting is the fact that Dr. King was motivated by strong religious values and spoke frequently of a moral code from God that we must follow. But this argument ignores the fact that many progressives are highly religious people whose progressivism is motivated by their religious faith. The fact that one has religious faith does not necessarily make them either a conservative or a progressive. Instead, the question becomes whether that faith led them toward one political side or the other.

In addition to ignoring the entire context of Dr. King’s work, the conservatives’ argument blithely skips over the historic reality that it was conservatives who fought Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement every step of the way. For example, one of the leading conservative magazines, the National Review, made a habit of attacking Dr. King, including publishing the following commentary in 1965 after Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize:

For years now, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his associates have been deliberately undermining the foundations of internal order in this country. With their rabble-rousing demagoguery, they have been cracking the “cake of custom” that holds us together. With their doctrine of “civil disobedience,” they have been teaching hundreds of thousands of Negroes — particularly the adolescents and the children — that it is perfectly alright to break the law and defy constituted authority if you are a Negro-with-a-grievance; in protest against injustice. And they have done more than talk. They have on occasion after occasion, in almost every part of the country, called out their mobs on the streets, promoted “school strikes,” sit-ins, lie-ins, in explicit violation of the law and in explicit defiance of the public authority. They have taught anarchy and chaos by word and deed — and, no doubt, with the best of intentions — and they have found apt pupils everywhere, with intentions not of the best. Sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.

Other attacks on the Civil Rights movement by the National Review have been compiled by Brad Delong here and includes the absolutely hideous 1957 piece entitled “Why the South Must Prevail.”

The conservatives’ attempted co-opting also ignores Dr. King’s message, which was decidedly progressive and contrary to conservative values in that it pushed for concerted effort to quickly achieve social change. For example, Dr. King spoke frequently about how all individuals and communities are interrelated, as this quote from the 1963 Letter From a Birmingham Jail makes clear:

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Similarly, in announcing his opposition to the Vietnam War, Dr. King explained how militarism was sapping resources away from the “shining moment” in which it appeared that government was finally serious about tackling poverty:

A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.

Also, in direct contrast to conservatism, which tends to prioritize social order and stability over the rapid change or disruption in the established social order that is often necessary to achieve justice, Dr. King urged fast action on civil rights and social justice, as he stated here in the Letter From a Birmingham Jail:

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler 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; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

And in his final address to the Southern Christian Leadership Council, Dr. King not only advocated for a national guaranteed minimum income, but he also made clear that his vision required a major transformation of our society into one that better balances the individual ethos of free-market capitalism with more communitarian policies that help ensure that the benefits from society are enjoyed by all.

I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about Where do we go from here, that we honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, Who owns the oil? You begin to ask the question, Who owns the iron ore? You begin to ask the question, Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water? These are questions that must be asked.

Now, don’t think that you have me in a bind today. I’m not talking about communism.

What I’m saying to you this morning is that communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. Now, when I say question the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.

Dr. King’s legacy was that of a social justice leader who understood that a social movement based on civil disobedience and pushing for government action was needed quickly to bring about the kind of equality and fairness that had been denied to oppressed people for far too long. In short, Dr. King was pretty much the exact opposite of the conservatives of today.

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/01/13/dont-let-conservatives-co-opt-dr-kings-progressive-social-justice-legacy/

The Revolutionary MLK

TRNN REPLAY: Jared Ball: Martin Luther King Jr. stood for revolutionary transformation; he is used today to support policies that he fought against:

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