It is traditional for public figures to honor King on the federal holiday marking his Jan. 15 생신, but it has also become traditional for liberals to lambast conservatives who do so on a day that is embraced by many Americans as a call for unity.
Defeated Iowa Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield mocked her 2020 opponent, 이것의. 조니 에른스트, R- 아이오와, for sharing a tribute to King on Twitter. Greenfield wrote, “Is this you girl?” and included a gif of Ernst saying at a debate she did not believe systemic racism existed in the state.
After White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted out a tribute to King as a “hero,” CNN’s Jake Tapper quickly passed along a quote from a “former senior administration official” anonymously slamming her for a “lack of self awareness.”
Other media figures joined him, including outspoken reporter Brian Karem, who called her a “traitor.”
Rolling Stone’s Jamil Smitth re-shared a New Republic article he wrote in 2016 admonishing politicians on both the left and right for claiming King’s mantle, tweeting he stood by it.
“All the while, Republicans tweet out flowery statements on MLK Day and even insist that King was one of them, ignoring that the GOP is a different party today than it was then and that King would likely oppose their policies fervently,” Smith wrote at the time. “It’s nearly as annoying to see white [sic] politicians on the left proclaim their allegiance to King — and sometimes, their presence at one of his marches — as a substitute for substantive racial justice platforms.”
An op-ed in The Daily Beast was less subtle, with the headline, “공화당 원, Keep Dr. King’s Name Out of Your Mouths.” Writer Ernest Owens blasted GOP members who invoked King’s calls for peace and reconciliation during impeachment proceedings against President Trump last week. Trump was eventually impeached on an article of inciting an insurrrection after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a deadly melee and disrupted certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
“While it feels shocking each time, Republicans misquoting and weaponizing King’s words and ideals to defend their problematic ways is nothing new,” 그가 썼어.
Left-wing Daily Beast writer and proficient Twitter user Molly Jong-Fast quickly responded to Sen. 린지 그레이엄, R-S.C., after he called on the country to live out King’s vision.
The liberal outlet Recount tweeted a video accusing Republicans of being hypocritical for criticizing Black Lives Matter protests while invoking King’s message of peace. Others said any Republicans involved in President Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to President-elect Joe Biden were attempting to disenfranchise Black voters and would oppose King’s advocacy if he was still alive.
Ricochet editor Jon Grabiel summed it up: “Every MLK Day on Twitter: Arguing about who’s allowed to share his quotes and which quotes they’re allowed to share.”
While almost universally admired now for his civil rights legacy, King was a controversial figure throughout his life before he was assassinated in 1968.
He preached civil disobedience to fight segregation and institutionalized discrimination, and he organized famous public demonstrations and movements like the 1963 March on Washington and 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. Some of his most famous addresses include his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and his call to address the three “evils” of racism, poverty, and war in 1967.
The Media Research Center’s Tim Graham told Fox News that the left has framed any praise of King by its political opposition as hypocritical.
“Perhaps MLK Day is a day where they should let everyone honor the historical achievements, and save the anger for all the other days,” 그레이엄이 말했다.