I have had occasion today to be driving from meeting to meeting and thus had the dubious opportunity to tune in to several wingnut radio talk shows. In what almost seems to be a concerted effort, they have found it necessary, on this day set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King's great contributions to American civil society, to spend more time discussing his martial infidelities (which they imply trump any claims to "greatness" applied to him) and his surviving family's current squabbles than in reminding listeners of just how far we've come as a people due to his leadership.
It also strikes me as curious that the best-known philanderers, to conservatives, all seem to be Democrats or progressives: Kennedy, Clinton, King, Gary Hart, Wilbur Mills. What about Bob Packwood, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, William Randolph Hearst, Bill Cosby, Henry Hyde, Dick Morris, Newt Gingrich? And those are just the ones who come immediately to mind.
The conservative obsession with sex, and their hypocrisy in condemning in one person what they cover up or brush off in another (IOKIYAR) is one of the most distasteful characteristics of the extreme right.
Here's the way I see it. If a man's (or woman's) work is inextricably linked with a certain code of behavior, their behavior is relevant in the way their work is to be judged. So Swaggart and Bakker deserve to have their contributions nullified because while they were preaching and teaching marital fidelity, they were practicing just the opposite. That's not the case with Kennedy, Clinton or King. While right wingers may insist that they were in a position of leadership that necessarily included modeling a certain type of behavior "for the children," that's a specious argument. I'm certainly not justifying cheating on one's spouse, but these men called upon Americans and government to adhere to and advance the principles embodied in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, not the Bible. Their work should be evaluated by the extent that they were able to accomplish those goals, not by some measure of personal sexual morality.
No idiot can tell me that Dr. King didn't bring an entire nation into the light by his crusade for civil rights. He rightfully stands as one of the most important, influential and inspiring figures in our nation's history, and is one of my personal heroes. I remember when The Sage and I were vacationing in England and visiting Westminster Abbey. We were stunned to see that there was a statue of Dr. King above the Great West Door, one of ten 20th-century Christian martyrs. We were moved to tears as we considered that this great man, who preached nonviolence and would not be moved from his adherence to Christ's "hard teachings" about turning the other cheek even as he was beaten, jailed, his life constantly under threat, but preached love for the very enemy that was denying his people their basic rights as human beings and American citizens, was so movingly recognized by a nation not his own.
Tags: Martin Luther King, Jr.
, right wing