This week, we heard many Republican presidential candidates make statements about the importance of Martin Luther King Day. That’s an improvement from what most Republicans were doing a generation ago – making hateful statements about boycotting the holiday.
Still, the Republicans seem only able to accept one part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision: The broad outline of racial equality. That’s only one part of what Dr. King was working for. Dr. King also had a vision of economic justice for all people, a world in which a hard day’s work would be rewarded with fair pay, in which war would come to an end, in which health care would be a universally recognized human right.
U.S. Representative Barney Frank spoke to the hypocrisy of those who praise Martin Luther King on the holiday, while spending the rest of the year working against King’s ideal of a compassionate society. Representative Frank said, “On Martin Luther King Day, I noticed that some people honor Dr. King’s memory while dishonoring his legacy. There are people who embrace Dr. King rhetorically but work to dismantle social programs for the elderly in order to fight a war in Afghanistan. I respect their right to want to eliminate programs for the elderly, but they shouldn’t wrap themselves in Martin Luther King’s memory.”