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Mike Huckabee Invokes Martin Luther King Jr. To Argue Against Marriage Equality

martin-luther-king-i-have-a-dream-speech

In recent years, conservatives have made many efforts to try to appropriate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr for their cause. They have argued, for example, that King was a Republican during at least some point in his life. In reality, it was King’s father, Martin Luther King, Sr.,  who was, like many African Americans in the South up until the 1960s, a Republican in no small part because of historical racial traditions that go back to the end of the Civil War. King Jr. didn’t identify with any political party during the early years of the Civil Rights Era and, in any case, the King family as a whole endorsed John F. Kennedy in 1960 over Richard Nixon in no small part because Kennedy had reached out to the younger King when he was in jail in 1960. They also point out that most of the opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was Democratic,which is true if you limit yourself primarily to Southern Democrats and forget about the fact, within less than a decade, Southern white Democrats began to identify with the Republican Party. Mike Huckabee, though, seems to have succeeded in making the most absurd ‘Martin Luther King Jr was a conservative’ argument yet:

Fox News host Mike Huckabee on Thursday compared the effort to prevent LGBT people from having equal marriage rights to fighting against Nazi Germany.

Speaking at the 2014 March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., Huckabee said that there was “no basis in the law” that gave a single judge the right to strike down same-sex marriage bans, like Sixth Judicial Circuit Judge Chris Piazza did in Arkansas in 2012.

“Nothing threatens your personal liberty more than the notion that you would bow your knee to the court system apart from the ultimate rule of the Constitution,” he opined. “And all of the branches of government, all of which are not there to tell you what you cannot do, but to guarantee the freedoms that you are always empowered to have.”

“We are under an obligation to obey God and the law, and if necessary, to defy an institution that is out of control,” the former Arkansas governor continued.

To make his point, Huckabee quoted from a letter that Martin Luther King’s Jr. wrote while spending eight days in the Birmingham Jail for fighting to end segregation.

“One may well ask, ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’” King had written. “The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’”

(…)

“I wish he were here today to say in the people in the building this one, Mr. Supreme Court justices, Madam Supreme Court justices, your role is only to interpret the law, to make sure that it somehow meshes with the Constitution, not that it messes with the Constitution!” he shouted.

In fact, Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. King, has repeatedly suggested that her husband would have backed equal rights for LGBT people.

“Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination,” she told the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2000.

It’s impossible, of course, to know what someone who has been dead for 46 years would think about a social issues that wasn’t even contemplated at the time that he was alive. However, I’d take his wife’s word on the issue before I’d take the word of someone like Huckabee. More importantly, though, it’s always struck me that this effort by people on the right to appropriate Dr. King to their cause in such pathetic manners as this really just comes across as the ultimate form of pandering. It’s akin to the manner in which they push forward people who happen to be conservative and members of a minority group in a blindingly obvious effort to try to say ‘See we’re not just about white people.’ That’s brought us such luminaries as Herman Cain, Alan Keyes, Allen West, and Ben Carson, all of whom have, on more than one occasion, said things that any reasonable person would find embarrassing if not outrageous. More importantly, there no evidence at all that this kind of tokenism actually helps attract minority voters, and it seems even less likely that appropriating the legacy of perhaps the most important African-American in American history in this manner would work any better. Indeed, it seems more likely to turn voters off.

If conservatives wonder why minority voters reject them, perhaps they need to think about how they appear to others when they say stuff like this.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. ernieyball says:

    If conservatives wonder why minority voters reject them, perhaps they need to think…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  2. ernieyball says:

    “Nothing threatens your personal liberty more than the notion that you would bow your knee to the court system apart from the ultimate rule of the Constitution,..” Huckleberry Hound

    I don’t know. Being forced at gunpoint to listen to David Barton threatens my personal liberty and my life.

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/03/31/154984/mike-huckabee-david-barton/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  3. al-Ameda says:

    Excellent Republican outreach program.

    I’m pretty sure that by way of a few Google searches Mike can find a few quotes by Gloria Steinem that might be used to justify employment discrimination against women.

    Or perhaps the words of Ronald Reagan could be used to justify abortion rights? Oh wait ….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. James Pearce says:

    So wait……a law that says gay people can get married to other gay people is, in Huckabee’s view, an unjust law? Weird….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    Huckabee may have a 7 figure FOX contract but he has never been the sharpest knife in the kitchen,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  6. wr says:

    @Ron Beasley: “Huckabee may have a 7 figure FOX contract but he has never been the sharpest knife in the kitchen,”

    You say that like it’s some kind of contradiction…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    @wr: Indeed, there are not many sharp knives in the FOX kitchen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Pearce:

    So wait……a law that says gay people can get married to other gay people is, in Huckabee’s view, an unjust law? Weird….

    Yes, because in Huckabee’s view, it’s a law that says straight people can’t forcibly stop gay people from getting married to other gay people, and that’s the real injustice….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  9. legion says:

    @Ron Beasley: When your only entree is red meat, every tool looks like a tenderizing mallet…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  10. legion says:

    The fact that people like Huckabee and Cheney walk around without being struck by lightning _literally_ every single day is proof positive that there is no God.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  11. Pinky says:

    Huckabee didn’t say (at least in that excerpt) that MLK would have opposed gay marriage. He said that MLK would oppose unjust laws. That seems to go against his next assertion, that courts are to “make sure that [a law] somehow meshes with the Constitution, not that it messes with the Constitution”, which seems to give primacy to the written law of the Constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  12. Franklin says:

    @James Pearce: Is there any law that actually says such a thing? The only thing I’m aware of is laws against it. So where is the unjust law that he speaks of?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. C. Clavin says:

    Of course MLK would be fighting for the rights of the LGBT community…and of course Huckabee is incapable of figuring that out.
    Stay classy Republicans and Christians…stay classy….
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/obama-urinal-faith-and-freedom-conference

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  14. ernieyball says:

    @Pinky:.which seems to give primacy to the written law of the Constitution.

    Which does not address marriage.
    ———–
    Huckster sez:

    “We are under an obligation to obey God…

    No we are not.
    Allow me to direct you to USCon Article VI…The SUPREMACY Clause

    This Constitution*, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    *Not your holy book Huckster.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  15. David in KC says:

    @Pinky: Seriously? His argument was MLK was against X. Allowing gay marriage is X. The fact that it is a bad argument doesn’t take away from what he was trying to do which is obvious, trying to use the civil rights leader as a reason to deny civil rights to others.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  16. Console says:

    Two things:

    1) Privileged people have a habit of writing people that aren’t like them out of history. So even when they are forced to accept the importance of someone that isn’t like them, there is no context to be given. That’s how MLK can get this weird revisionism from people. We write important leaders like Bayard Rustin out of history and co-opt MLK into a fantasy.

    2) The way conservatives misread minority solidarity is pretty funny. Let’s say that black people are more socially conservative than their party alliance. That’s meaningless if their suspicion of discriminatory laws outweighs that social conservatism. It’s just like immigration. Conservative love to point out this idea that increased immigration will affect blacks and recent immigrants more, but the fact is that minorities don’t view immigration in that lens. They see it as white people doing one thing (immigrating) then pulling the ladder up after them once they’ve gotten what they want.

    These efforts to exploit perceived ideological divisions always tend to backfire for those reasons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  17. Jim R says:

    “We are under an obligation to obey God and the law…”

    When God tells me something, I imagine I’ll pay attention. All I ever hear, though, is people like Huckabee flapping their gums about what they say God wants.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @ernieyball: Well yeah. But you’re talking about the Constitution at the National Archives, not the one in conservatives’ heads, the good one that says we’re a Christian nation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Tillman says:

    @legion: Bullshit. How many hearts has Cheney gone through again?! This is science’s fault!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  20. C. Clavin says:

    @Tillman:
    On Government run health care, my friend…on Government run health care…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  21. C. Clavin says:

    @gVOR08:
    Um…I could be wrong but I don’t think the Constitution says we are a Christian Nation…in fact the very 1st Amendment makes that nigh-on impossible.
    That’s a fiction promulgated by Christian zealots.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  22. ernieyball says:

    @C. Clavin: I could be wrong but I don’t think the Constitution says we are a Christian Nation.

    Good grief Cliffy. Try reading what he wrote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  23. Barry says:

    Doug: “If conservatives wonder why minority voters reject them, perhaps they need to think about how they appear to others when they say stuff like this.”

    And excellent end to a good article. Basically, too many of them think in terms of tokenism, just as too many of them have problems with the concept of ‘consent’ in sex.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. Barry says:

    @James Pearce: “So wait……a law that says gay people can get married to other gay people is, in Huckabee’s view, an unjust law? Weird…. ”

    Yes, because he doesn’t like it. I’m sure that a search of statements by his predecessors would find the same sentiment about the Civil Rights Act.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. Barry says:

    @Ron Beasley: “Huckabee may have a 7 figure FOX contract but he has never been the sharpest knife in the kitchen, ”

    And remember, he was being praised as the ‘nice’ and ‘reasonable’ guy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. Barry says:

    @Console: “It’s just like immigration. Conservative love to point out this idea that increased immigration will affect blacks and recent immigrants more, but the fact is that minorities don’t view immigration in that lens. They see it as white people doing one thing (immigrating) then pulling the ladder up after them once they’ve gotten what they want. ”

    Or, that when the right complains about immigration, they’re complaining about non-whites, and non-whites in general (whether native or not).

    For example, H1B visas are not a big issue with the Tea Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: What’s an omnipotent deity supposed to do? The popular reaction to the Flood and all the city-annihilations was net-negative. So the Almighty takes the more subtle route. Ahh, heart disease! No one suspects heart disease!!

    And then we give the fwckers another heart! Cheney has had five heart attacks; God is trying to kill this dude on the DL, but pesky Science keeps him alive!!!

    (I don’t have anything serious to write because Console pretty much said what I would have.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. DrDaveT says:

    To make his point, Huckabee quoted from a letter that Martin Luther King’s Jr. wrote while spending eight days in the Birmingham Jail

    This is the part of Civil Disobedience that right-wingers always forget — the “spending time in jail” part. The “getting gunned down en masse by British troops” part. The “actually being willing to experience inconvenience, or worse, for your beliefs” part.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  29. C. Clavin says:

    @ernieyball:
    ooops…my bad…no wonder it didn’t make sense!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. Stan says:

    “The holy word of God is on everyone’s lips…but…we see almost everyone presenting their own version of God’s word, with the sole purpose of using religion as a pretext for making others think as they do.”

    This is attributed to Spinoza. I saw it in the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT: Seriously? I know more people who’ve been arrested at pro-life rallies than bar-hopping, and I know plenty of people who’ve been arrested bar-hopping.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  32. Kylopod says:

    The irony is that opponents of civil rights during MLK’s time were constantly invoking “liberty” and claiming civil rights was an attack on constitutional freedom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. anjin-san says:

    We are under an obligation to obey God

    FU pal. I have zero obligations to your concept of God.

    I feel sorry for people like Huckabee, they really are lost and wandering in the wilderness. They seem to have no clue about who Jesus was or what he taught. I never seem to hear modern conservatives talking about love, brotherhood, tolerance, forgiveness, and an obligation to help the sick and the impoverished.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0