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Sunny Hostin: Mark Kelly Is The ‘White Moderate’ MLK Warned About

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: Sunny Hostin attends The American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection 2020 at Hammerstein Ballroom on February 05, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for American Heart Association )
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for American Heart Association

Sunny Hostin claimed Tuesday that Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) was the “white moderate” the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned about in his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

“Hours from now, President Biden is going to be in Georgia to make his case for historic voting rights reform. He said he’ll support changes to the filibuster to make it happen,” Whoopi Goldberg began, noting that some were referring to the federal election overhaul as a “power grab.”

“I thought that’s what January 6th was all about, but maybe I’m crazy,” Goldberg added, noting that some Democrats were pressuring the White House to take more immediate action on the issue. “Some local Democrats also say there’s no reason for the president to be there unless he’s ready to take action today. So they’re not going to go.”

Hostin said that in Georgia it had been minority voters who had driven the state’s flip from red to blue — and that Biden’s appearance in Georgia, despite the fact that nothing had yet been done on the Democrats’ election overhaul, seemed “performative.”

“So Georgia did its job, and black voters did their job, and I think like Latasha Brown just said yesterday, that it’s just unconscionable in my view that it’s a year later, and we don’t have voter rights legislation in place to protect the ballot, and it’s a year after January 6th like you just mentioned, Whoopi,” Hostin added. “It’s a year after Republicans continued attack on our democracy, and what we’re hearing over and over again is, you know, Joe Biden is just the president. He’s not, you know, in charge of the Senate, and he’s not in charge of the House. Well, the limits of the presidency get mentioned all the time when Biden can’t get it done, but the power of the presidency is on full display basically when he gets a win like with infrastructure.”

Hostin went on to say that she would like to see Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in West Virginia and Arizona, putting pressure on Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). But she also noted that they were not the only ones who could stand in the way of changing or scrapping the Senate filibuster — which Democrats need to do if they want to pass their proposed election overhaul without any Republican support.

“And by the way, where is Mark Kelly who is up for re-election in November? Where is he, Mr. Centrist, because he now says he hasn’t decided what he wants to do about the filibuster,” Hostin continued. “He doesn’t know what he wants to do about voter legislation. So Mark Kelly’s position is really reminding me about the ‘white moderate’ that Martin Luther King Jr. warned us in his ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ in 1963. He thinks we should wait for justice. I don’t think we need to wait for justice, and I fully understand why there are a lot of voter rights groups that are not going to meet Joe Biden in Georgia, because I don’t really think he should be there.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in 1963 that he had been “gravely disappointed with the white moderate,” arguing that moderates who refused to stand up for the right thing — in that case, the Civil Rights movement — could at times do more damage than those who actively fought against it.

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er 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 can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season,'” King wrote.

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