Lots of people have used King to support one political cause or another. President Obama said King would "like" Obamacare "because I think he understood that health care, health security is not a privilege; it’s something that in a country as wealthy as ours, everybody should have access to." Slate's Matthew Yglesias notes that King supported raising the minimum wage before endorsing a guaranteed basic income. Earlier this week, at the Republican National Committee's commemoration of the march, Bob Woodson said liberals had put other issues in front of King's: "Everybody has come in front of [black people] on the bus — gays, immigrants, women, environmentalists." You might agree or disagree with their analysis. But they are in a whole different category from claiming that King's dream of racial equality is not yet possible because black people lack strong moral character.
On Wednesday, former Rep. Joe Walsh, an Illinois Republican defeated in 2012, posted his own riff on King's speech, as Mother Jones's Tim Murphy reports. Walsh seems to think he's carrying King's torch forward:
I have a dream that young black men will stop shooting other young black men.
I have a dream that young black men won't become fathers until after they're married and they have a job.
I have a dream that young unmarried black women will say "no" to young black men who want to have sex.
I have a dream that today's black leadership will quit blaming racism and "the system" for what ails black America.
I have a dream that black America will take responsibility for improving their own lives.
I have a dream that one day black America will cease their dependency on the government plantation, which has enslaved them to lives of poverty, and instead depend on themselves, their families, their churches, and their communities.
As Mother Jones notes, Walsh was sued for unpaid child support in 2011. Perhaps we can see this as a great step forward. King went from being condemned as a philanderer to being used to express disgust at the state of the black American family.
These are all the issues King would care about if he were alive, Bill O'Reilly argued on Fox News this week. "If Dr. King were alive today I believe he would be broken-hearted about what has happened to the traditional family and not only among blacks, in our competitive society the ill-educated of all colors are likely to fail," O'Reilly said. He blasted today's civil rights leaders for not supporting vouchers for private schools and something called "culture reform."
Dr. Martin Luther King wanted a fair stable system for African-Americans. He did not want a culture of debasement, awful behavior from so-called entertainers and a collapsing family landscape. The civil rights industry, teachers unions, far-left media and apathetic Americans are all working together to block any kind of meaningful problem solving or cultural reform in this country and until Americans come to grips with that nothing will get better. In the end it is indeed about the content of character. When will the civil rights industry get back to that?
This is a remarkable reinterpretation of King's famous words, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." He was calling for an end to discriminatory laws so that people could succeed on their merits. O'Reilly reinterprets this to mean whatever problems black people face — a higher poverty rate, higher unemployment, higher rates of incarceration — is not the result of discriminatory laws, but because individual black people don't have the character to try hard enough.