King for a Day: The Greatness of Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this day, which is no ordinary holiday for no ordinary man, let us speak a truth: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great American. He loved America, not because of the rightness of America, but because of the rights that were (and remain) so absolutely American: the right to protest for right, the right of freedom of assembly, the right of freedom of speech, the right of the freedom of the press.

King died for those rights, because he was denied his birthright; because he was born in an America that was half-slave, in the South, and anything but free, in the North; because the freedom the Constitution guaranteed was no guarantee of the right of blacks to vote in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and no reason for them to vote in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And yet, King never lost faith in America.

He gave America the last full measure of his devotion.

To those for whom that is not enough, to those for whom Dr. King’s sacrifices will never be enough because of his acts of adultery and plagiarism, I ask: Is his murder not enough to mollify your hatred? When will you let this champion of peace rest in peace?

He was a sinner, like every man, but he was no Everyman. He was a servant of God, but a slave to no man.

Like Abraham Lincoln, King was a leader fluent in the foundational texts of liberty: the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, the works of William Shakespeare, and the writings of the Founding Fathers. And, like Lincoln, King had his own burdens to bear. He carried them everywhere without complaint, though he had a right to complain about what we had done to our souls and our soil.

We had, after all, darkened and stained our land with rivers of blood drawn by the lash and repaid by the sword. We had perpetuated America’s original sin, and we had never bound up the nation’s wounds, even after the assassins’ bullets had felled our secular Abraham and our American King.

If ever there was a man with malice toward none, and with charity for all, it was King. He endured the full might and fury of the state. The FBI illegally wiretapped his calls and sent the recordings—the ones between King and his lovers—to his wife. The Bureau told him to kill himself. Other law enforcement officials did their best to kill his spirit. They fired water cannons at his supporters and unleashed attack dogs against his most devoted followers. They jailed him, repeatedly, too.

In turn, King armed himself with the arsenal of democracy. He appealed to the courts not to legislate, but to arbitrate. He approached legislators not to speechify, but to ratify. He asked the president not to needlessly deliberate, but to act with all deliberate speed.

He was a man of the Word, with a passion for upholding the true meaning of the words of one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. He countered physical force with soul force, because he knew—and it is a testament to the greatness of America—that he could awaken the goodness within the conscience of America.

The daybreak did not, however, come without significant toil and strain. It did not shine without blacks having to shelter themselves against a long nightmare of servitude and shame. It did not reveal itself without all Americans having to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

This was King’s dream of reconciliation.

It was a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. It was a dream about the better angels of our nature. It was, in some respects, no dream at all; because King believed in the power of goodwill to triumph against people of ill will; because he summoned the will to match hate with love, until his march became America’s long walk to freedom; because he knew we had the will to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

It was no dream, then, that one of King’s harshest critics would become one of his most impressive converts. Such was the decency of the late William F. Buckley, Jr.

Such was the content of Buckley’s character that in a 1979 column he called for a gesture of recognition of King’s courage, of the galvanizing quality of a rhetoric that sought out a reification of the dream of brotherhood consistent with the ideals of the country, and a salute to a race of people greatly oppressed during much of U.S. history.

By choosing conviction over consistency, Buckley did the right thing for himself and the Right.

I salute Buckley for his humanity because it takes a big man—it takes a good man—to acknowledge when he is wrong.

Mindful of King’s mortal limits, and reverential toward his immortal urge to do God’s will, we must continue his work and work to ensure the legacy of his short life has a longevity that will outlive us all.

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13 responses to “King for a Day: The Greatness of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

  1. To those for whom that is not enough, to those for whom Dr. King’s sacrifices will never be enough because of his acts of adultery and plagiarism, I ask: Is his murder not enough to mollify your hatred? When will you let this champion of peace rest in peace?

    What I would like as a start is an admission that these events happened, which we are finally getting after decades of the sainthood narrative, and that they reflect a man of very low moral character. We are still having to read gushing tributes about from “conservative” writers talking about King’s “deep and abiding Christian faith and leadership.” The public should know we have a holiday honoring a man who committed serial adultery and defended it in incredibly crude language. These aren’t the actions of a devout Christian leader.

    Getting rid of the idea that the “I Have a Dream” speech, parts of which were also plagiarized, summed up his life’s work would also be a giant step forward. In examining the totality of what he stood for, a colorblind society where every man is judged “on the content of his character” doesn’t seem possible from someone who was pushing for employment quotas and a guaranteed wage for blacks only. If we reach a point where the national holiday is eliminated, school children are no longer indoctrinated in the belief that he was saint and we are able to accurately assess King as the far left demagogue with low moral standards that he was throughout his life, that would be enough for me.

    • That left-wing demagogue did so much to bring America closer to its promise of treating all men as though they are created equal. He was imperfect, because human. But I’ll take his version of America over yours every time.

      • What you believe about him is a narrative created by the media and politicians. King’s vision included reparations for slavery and employment discrimination in favor of blacks. How is that consistent with treating all men equally?

      • About the same as in our courts of law when damages are paid out for injury done.

      • When Jefferson wrote “all men are created equal,” he meant that there is no such thing as a hereditary aristocracy. In the America of 1776 he was certainly correct, because Britain never created new peers in the colonies (perhaps the Duke of New York or the Earl of Ohio?). It does not mean any more than that, as much as Progressives want to use it as a talisman for their cultural Marxism. AG is no different than NRO if it buys this trash.

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  2. Dr. King is in the ‘company of the Founders’. His was a clear vision of what was right and appealed to The People’s sense of what is right to change America. That any person is flawed should come as no surprise, the question will always be ‘the whole’ of what they accomplished greater than the ‘sum of their ‘parts’. Dr. King saw clearly that America — as a whole — suffered from the mistreatment of America’s ‘negro’ citizens. When the Doctor was assassinated in Memphis, he was organizing garbage workers, black and white, to raise their standard of living. He cared about America enough to stand up for its ideals. Like many at the Founding, he paid with his life.

  3. Even if you paint Communist Martin Luther King in the most favorable light, the blacks don’t believe they should be judged by the content of their character. That would never work out well for them. Instead the agenda is, all whites are racist and must be eliminated so blacks never experience “racism” again. The term “racism” was invented by Communist Jew Lev Trotsky, and I still don’t know what it means. I guess it means everybody is supposed to favor blacks and Jews over their own race until the white race is eliminated according to the Jew master plan. Martin Luther King’s genius was to put a Christian spin on the Communist agenda of destroying America, but ultimately he was handled by Communist Jews and was just a pawn in their game.

  4. Never trust a man named Ashley. That’s almost as bad as a man named Lindsey.

  5. What a joke MLK day is.

    National holiday for a devout communist, repeated adulterer, drug user, hypocrite preacher, and who knows how many more evil deeds could be added.

    Is King the best the African American community has to represent them?