On Monday, CNN paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. in a bizarre post that suggested his wisdom led to socialism and environmentalism, rather than to racial reconciliation. Here’s the tweet:
Now, this is a nice revisionist take. King Jr. was indeed a socialist; he wasn’t much of an environmentalist. John Blake, the writer, leads off by dismissing the reason we celebrate the holiday:
As the nation celebrates King's national holiday Monday, it's easy to freeze-frame him as the benevolent dreamer carved in stone on the Washington Mall. Yet the platitudes that frame many King holiday events often fail to mention the most radical aspects of his legacy, says Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College and author of several books on the civil rights movement.
But those “platitudes” were the heart of King Jr.’s legacy. Does anyone celebrate him because he mouthed Marxist nonsense about economics? Of course not. The reason America cherishes King Jr. is because of those supposed “platitudes,” just as we cherish George Washington as the “father of the country,” not because he held slaves.
But the Left wishes to seize the “benevolent dreamer” image and recast it in Bernie Sanders’ mold. Thus, CNN argues:
If you're concerned about inequality, health care, climate change or even the nastiness of our political disagreements, then King has plenty to say to you. To see that version of King, though, we have to dust off the cliches and look at him anew.
How exactly should we view him? We should consider him an environmentalist because he thought about the “interconnected nature of life.” So we’re now reading global warming into his philosophy because . . . er, well, something or other.
We should also look to his socialism as inspirational because “he was a socialist before it was cool.” He was in fact a socialist; as CNN reports, “King called for universal health care and education, a guaranteed annual income and the nationalization of some industries.” But that’s not why we cheer him. So was Karl Marx, and we don’t cheer him as a national hero. Socialism wasn't cool, isn't cool, and isn't central to why MLK was important to the United States.
It is worth considering CNN’s final point — that King sought reconciliation without insult. That’s positive and useful in today’s environment — but that’s also part of the burnished image we already treasure.
Don’t buy the media’s attempt to remold an American hero into a primarily Leftist hero. That’s not why people have the day off today.