Comment Of The Day: “Evening Ethics Update, 11/7/2019: Dr. King Is Un-honored…” (Item #4)

When I read the headline about the reversal of the name-change for the old boulevard in Kansas City, I was secretly hoping it would be because of recent credible revelations that Reverend Martin Luther King had facilitated a rape, and worse. In May, King biographer David Garrow unearthed previously classified FBI documents showing that King was a bad guy in private by any measure, even using a Donald Trump or a Bill Clinton standard. I had written at the time,

“I want to see the ignorant, doctrinaire college students, progressive history censors and pandering politicians face this crisis and either live up to their alleged virtues and censorious standards, or admit that they were dead wrong, as I and many others have been saying all along….

As a civilization, we must recognize and honor the many, many men and women of all races and origins who have made humanity better by their public deeds, intellectual advancements and accomplishments in civic life, war and peace. Few of them, if any, did not have serious flaws or engage during their lives in conduct that today, or even in their own times, would be considered reprehensible. Using these acts, and solely these acts, to assess which historical figures are worthy of being remembered by future generations leads to a societal suicide, embracing a culture without heroes or aspirations.”

I was thus hoping that the statue toppling side of the political spectrum was being forced to sample some of its’ own  medicine, and that King had lost an honor using the same, misguided principle that had the Democrats removing the names of their party’s founders, Jefferson and Jackson, from their annual dinners. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander, and perhaps when the gander realizes it’s bitter and stupid sauce, it will smarten up.

No such luck. It doesn’t seem as if King lost his street because he was a sexual predator, just because more Kansas City voters than not thought the old name shouldn’t have been changed in the first place

Steve-O-From NJ, however, does seem to be right about double standards where honors are concerned.

Here is his Comment of The Day on #4, the Kansas City Street Name Battle, in the post, “Evening Ethics Update, 11/7/2019: Dr. King Is Un-honored, Virginian Republicans Are Non-Functional, Fox News Is Pro-Darkness, And Joy Behar Is Still An Idiot”…

[Incidentally, has anyone read any hint of acknowledgment from the U.S. media, African-American groups or the NAACP that Garrow’s information raises a question about the propriety of honoring Dr. King? Neither have I….]

After two years of statue-toppling and other attempts to erase history, it should come as no surprise that eventually someone should suggest yanking something down dedicated to some darling of the left. The fact is that no city is REQUIRED to have a street named for King, nor is any citizen REQUIRED to honor him. In fact, as has been pointed out here, MLK was far from a saint in life, particularly with regard to his poor treatment of women. There is enough reason to criticize him to justify questioning why he should be honored at all, particularly in light of the current attacks on other (much more significant and influential) historical figures such as Columbus and Jefferson.

Of course the Left, and the black community in particular, doesn’t see it that way. If you’re lucky, they’ll just give you a non-answer, to the effect of the one is nothing like the other. If not, they’ll accuse you of being a racist, not because you said something affirmatively racist, but because you failed to give what they believe is proper deference to one of their icons.

I think this ties in with the posts I have made in the past about how the Left wants a monopoly on honor. They want to be able to dictate who can be honored, what can be honored, and where, when and how any honoring can be done. They also want to be able to dictate who and what cannot be honored, who and what must not be honored, and where, when and how honoring is not allowed to be done. What is more, they want to be allowed exclusive use of certain arguments for and against honoring. If someone yanks down a street sign for MLK because mailing has become confusing or renames Medgar Evers Park because the demographics of the area have changed, that’s considered racist. If someone took down a similar street sign once put up for RFK or renamed De Valera Park for the same reasons those actions would be encouraged, and anyone who challenged them would be told to get with the program.

The thought, I believe, is that any renaming, changing, etc. that displaces white for color or majority for minority is to be encouraged. The reverse is considered racist. There is also an unspoken thought that any new naming, etc. that promotes someone or something of European descent, especially involving men, is passe’ and represents a lack of outside the box or imaginative thinking on the part of the namer. There is a much more open thought, probably first given organized articulation by Howard Zinn, that American men of European descent have lost the privilege of being honored because they have caused nothing but misery for women and people of color from the moment they landed on this continent.

What’s more, they lump all of Europe, a continent of 44 nations, 87 ethnicities, 200+ languages (including at least 2 that are nothing like any other), and 2 dozen or more faiths into one classification: white. It doesn’t matter that many of those Europeans had plenty difficult times of their own when they first arrived, white is white is white, whether it be a Lutheran from Sweden, a Catholic from Italy, or an Orthodox person from Greece. They’re part of the majority that did all these horrible things, and what’s to honor about that? If anything, that majority needs to be shamed.

That’s why there was a huge brouhaha in Jersey City recently about a monument to the victims of the Katyn Forest Massacre. The local government and developers wanted to move the (admittedly somewhat jarring) monument to where it would be less prominent. The Polish-American community objected rather vociferously. Finally the powers-that-be relented, but the general consensus seemed to be “Good grief, what is the big deal? It’s only a monument to a bunch of European officers, can’t these people get over it?”

That’s why a lot of communities are floating the idea of taking down the various Columbus statues, and, when we Italians object, saying it’s telling us our history doesn’t matter, the reaction from other folks is “Come on, this guy isn’t a hero, he’s anything but, and you people are now part of the majority. You don’t need a special celebration anymore.” Unfortunately, at least in NJ, we are between 20% and 25% of the population, and that’s too big of a bloc to mess with politically. So our statues and celebrations are grudgingly left alone, but we get constantly reminded of just what an awful person Columbus was, and told, “All right, you are too strong here to overpower and we accept that, so we’re asking you to voluntarily do the right thing, get on the right side of history, and step aside. Take down the statues (we will hate you slightly less if you pick up the cost yourselves), cease your celebrations, and join instead in the celebration of those your people cruelly wronged. You might, just might mind you, get on the path to redemption.”

On the other hand, if you dared suggest renaming Nat Turner Park, because a rebel slave who murdered white people who had nothing to do with slavery was maybe not the best role model, or if you dared point out that maybe Margaret Sanger had some less than wonderful ideas about a few things, so maybe her statue needed some explaining, or, God forbid, you pointed out that the Jewish population in this town had mostly either died off or moved to Florida and the local synagogue had closed, so maybe we don’t need that memorial to the Holocaust in the square anymore, you’d be condemned as a backward racist pig. And MLK can’t be touched, not no way, not no how.

12 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Evening Ethics Update, 11/7/2019: Dr. King Is Un-honored…” (Item #4)

  1. Congratulations on a great COTD, Steve. As always, thought provoking.
    Among the thoughts you provoked:
    That the Left wants to dictate the terms of honoring, also is true of the Right. Both sides have their heroes. But, given the nature of educational, social, and governmental institutions, those on the Right have muted their desires for honoring, or have had those desires muted for them.
    That they (the Left) lump all of Europe into one classification, also is true for those of us who lump all dark-skinned peoples into African-Americans, or, more simply, blacks. (Yes, both Left and Right do this.) We must get away from identity politics and insist on treating people as individuals. The most important rights our Constitution protects are not group rights, they are the rights of individuals.
    That historical incidents are selectively chosen to support an argument, without context, without real understanding, is a failing generally among those making arguments. That needs to be countered.
    I’ve found it more and more difficult these days to have even a simple discussion of an issue because of the polarization which has grown exponentially with the last President and the current one. How we turn that around, I don’t know, but we must.

    • Any “honor” automatically conferred upon a person because of his or her skin color, gender, group identity, etc. is just plain un-American.

      “Honor” doesn’t mean anything if there aren’t generally agreed-upon standards. Specific behavior can be honorable. A group of innocent victims of some tragedy can be honored. Being born into group X (or identifying as group X) shouldn’t get anyone a shiny medal in the US of A. We believe in judging individuals for their individual behavior (or did.)

      The polarization is going to get worse because the Left are using what was, for Lenin, a very successful playbook. Puff up all types of marginalized or minority groups with undeserved pride just for existing, blame all of their problems on the prevailing system to be destroyed, work hard to unite those unrelated groups under the same banner, and ride the wave of rage and chaos until you can replace that prevailing system (in the U.S. it happens to be capitalist American Republicanism and Protestant culture as personified by white males, but it need not necessarily be such.) Once socialism is in place, oppress and destroy any possible opposition with your new regulatory power, let sit for 2-3 generations, and then enjoy the smoking husk of what was once a prosperous country. Your successors will probably be strung up on a flagpole, but you’ll be dead by then.

      • It worked very well for Lenin in Russia, Mao in China, and Chavez in Venezuela…for a while. Eventually Russia got fed up and tossed the Communists out, and most of Eastern Europe not only did that, but joined NATO, the former enemy. Venezuela lies prostrate in testimony of where the process ends, and the “brown tide” (for brown shirts, nothing to do with another tide) of right-wing populists has overwhelmed the “pink tide” and mostly reversed the “giro a la izquierda” in Latin America. China may have loosened things economically, but personal freedom is still non-existent. That of course doesn’t help the millions who ended up as victims of Communism, but it is proof that a system of total oppression can only last so long, at least in the West. I’d also add that the manner in which Communism collapsed, especially in places like Romania, is proof that sometime Gandhi’s approach doesn’t work. How could it, in places where political adversaries vanish at night and the government thinks of its people as something easily replaceable?

        The fact that that kind of thinking could come here, is coming here, and is already strong in a lot of places here is actually pretty scary. I responded to a post yesterday by some jerk who’s probably a punk living in his parents’ basement, but the words he wrote (probably taken from somewhere else) sound chilling:

        you think we socialists aren’t armed?
        We won’t need violence, however.

        We have the vote….so far

        We will defeat you fascists just like we defeated Hitler.
        Besides, defeating you is easy. Your leader, Trump, is way less intelligent that Hitler, and that’s saying a lot.

        You have been brainwashed to think that everything is fake unless trump approves it.

        You don’t stand a chance against us socialists.

  2. Yeah, very excellent thoughts, Steve! They are one more grain of sand in the ever-growing pile of why I love the comments here as much as the posts. You all really force me to think…though the “Motte and Bailey” comment the other day went completely over me, even after reading the linked piece and a few further posts.

    My goodness, even the disagreements are very civil when compared with other sites. Great stuff.

  3. Steve writes:

    The fact is that no city is REQUIRED to have a street named for King, nor is any citizen REQUIRED to honor him.

    While that might be true the issue here is ‘ideological coercion’. You are required to honor the man and if you don’t you will receive opprobrium. If you take a position against King or any person held up for honor, you get yourself branded as evil. I regret having to point out that many on this blog are caught in the same trap. There are ideas and views that run so contrary to what they have accepted as *right* and *normal* that if you disrupt their sleepy dreams they get very mad at you. Therefore, the topic underlying this is social and ideological coercion and how it works.

    Of course the Left, and the black community in particular, doesn’t see it that way. If you’re lucky, they’ll just give you a non-answer, to the effect of the one is nothing like the other. If not, they’ll accuse you of being a racist, not because you said something affirmatively racist, but because you failed to give what they believe is proper deference to one of their icons.

    The Black community and activists in the Black and Brown communities understand the nature of the game of displacement. If you oppose your own displacement you are — of course you are — a racist. Because at the core if you did have a strong position in defense of your self, your heritage, and even your color and your ‘whiteness’, that in itself is now criminal. To be very truthful, but with no wish to offend in any way, you Steve have incorporated these anti-White views into your perception-structure.

    Here’s Johnny for example wrote: “We must get away from identity politics and insist on treating people as individuals. The most important rights our Constitution protects are not group rights, they are the rights of individuals.”

    What he does here, no matter if his intention is good or not, is to agree substantially with the essential platform the Progressive-Left is dealing with, and Johnny makes it seem ‘un-American’ therefore to have an identity.

    Isaac also chimed in: “Any ‘honor’ automatically conferred upon a person because of his or her skin color, gender, group identity, etc. is just plain un-American.”

    You see what has happened here is that *you* have inserted an ideological predicate that functions as a negation of your very self: those specific elements of being-hood that made you you. You have chosen through a pseudo-rational imposition to insist that *correct perception* only take place in accord with your contrived views. But those views are engineered views, and they are (essentially) the views of the progressive left.

    The real ‘icon’ is a specific mental construct that has been arrived as through pseudo-intellectual processes.

    What is the point of saying all this? Simple: you participate in your displacement. If at some point you choose not to be displaced, if you gain the courage and the focus to oppose it, you will have to gain all of the identity-terms which have been taken away from you. You will have to ‘reconstruct identity’.

    I think this ties in with the posts I have made in the past about how the Left wants a monopoly on honor. They want to be able to dictate who can be honored, what can be honored, and where, when and how any honoring can be done. They also want to be able to dictate who and what cannot be honored, who and what must not be honored, and where, when and how honoring is not allowed to be done. What is more, they want to be allowed exclusive use of certain arguments for and against honoring.

    I suggest this is a superficial analysis. If we were really to be able to say *what the left wants* it seems to be a bit more dangerous and substantial. In the context of MLK and what has been unleashed in America through ideological swindles is the erasure of ‘whiteness’. That is what they say, not so much what I or we say. And they know what they mean. Take as just one of hundreds and thousands of examples Joe Biden celebrating his demographic erasure (in the famous clip).

    The Left seems to have rational plans, at least I have gotten that sense reading the primary works of the rhetoricians of the Left. But I think one has to at least consider the darker, unconscious aspects that enter into play. How to talk about that rationally? I am uncertain. But so-called ‘good intentions’ seem in the past to have taken very very bad turns at a certain point, and then all the signs that were manifest along the route suddenly light up, but in retrospect.

    I do not need to pay any attention at all to the rhetoric of progressive operatives to know that the game being played has to do with ‘strict power principles’. They seem to lie frequently. They will lie when necessary. Why? Because what matters is getting power. Then they reveal themselves more honestly.

    …that American men of European descent have lost the privilege of being honored because they have caused nothing but misery for women and people of color from the moment they landed on this continent.

    This is an interesting one. Many people, myself included of course, received a ‘narrative’ through which we could visualize Europe’s contact with The Americas. I refer to Chomsky’s ‘Year 501: The Conquest Continues’. He paints an historical picture of the conquest, and it was exactly a conquest, that reminded me of a slow-motion movie of a giant ocean-liner crashing into a pier. He shows just the millimeter before the ship touches the wood, and then the whole book is the millimeter-by-millimeter description of what happened. He does in fact demonstrate how causation operates: what is set in motion continues in that motion.

    But my point is that by offering such a view and perspective to people, it encourages people to imagine that they can put an imaginary brake on an event that totally changed the entire Continent, and out of which everything that we are has been built. It is a very curious and strange ‘historical revisionism’.

    The thing is: the exact same thing happened to the wild districts of Europe when Rome civilized the raucous tribes. The ‘destruction’ was also, or simultaneously, a creation: what we are now and even what we value and admire came from this.

    If you accept the view of the Chomsky-Zinn Left, you must start at an internal point to undo your very self! You negate, essentially, your right to occupy space. You have no rights. Your negation of yourself is a form of ‘inner suicide’. What is the alternative? That is difficult. A Nietzschean assent to the creative aspect within destructive processes? The capacity to say, and really to believe: Yes, all that happened, but look what we can create?

    What the Progressive Left seems to want to do is to get people to imagine History in a way that they can control essentially though blame & shame. While of course they seek ways to get their hands on power. And to grab hold of The Present.

    What’s more, they lump all of Europe, a continent of 44 nations, 87 ethnicities, 200+ languages (including at least 2 that are nothing like any other), and 2 dozen or more faiths into one classification: white.

    This is a very good point when *they* say we are not *diverse*. Europe is amazingly diverse. But note that when one’s identity is taken away from one, one is left with a non-identity, or only an ‘American identity’. But that identity is rather abstract and cannot hold itself together without other forms of ‘glue’.

    Because ‘whiteness’ is under attack, and Europe and its attainments is under attack, and the specific people who make both American and Europe, identity-less White Americans grope around for the necessary elements of identity in order to save themselves. It is very difficult, painful and demanding.

    Is it *wrong* and is it immoral or unethical to identify through the mental vehicle of ‘being white’ with one’s own self, background, accomplishment, and possibility of attainment? Indeed it is. It is a first step in the reconstruction of identity, or a process in the creation of a newer identity-version.

    But to argue that all identity should be done away with? And that one become a Federal subject? That is not going to work, as it shows itself not working now.

    • Is it *wrong* and is it immoral or unethical to identify through the mental vehicle of ‘being white’ with one’s own self, background, accomplishment, and possibility of attainment? Indeed it isn’t. It is a first step in the reconstruction of identity, or a process in the creation of a newer identity-version.

    • In other words, the left wants the right not just to surrender without a fight, but to conquer ourselves. In exchange they will agree to hate us 2% less. Sounds like a real bargain.

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