Martin Luther King: Damaged Beyond Repair
I’VE BEEN SEEING, here and there on the Web, attempts at repairing the reputation of Martin Luther King, Jr., by refuting well-known criticism about him for plagiarism, for adultery, for stealing, and for consorting with communists during the Cold War. These efforts involve quite a bit of verbal façade: They are presented such that they appear to mean more than they really do mean. When you critically examine these “criticisms of the criticisms” about MLK, you’ll gain the impression that they are like the Wolf trying to huff and to puff in order to blow down the brick house of Little Pig #3.
For example, one of the rehabilitory remarks is that King’s plagiarism in his “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, DC (King appropriated statements taken from Archibald Carey’s earlier speech to the Republican National Committee) is overblown. No, it isn’t. MLK began his speaking that day with his own speech, but he noticed that it wasn’t inspiring his audience. He was losing them. That’s when he switched into Carey’s speech, as best as he could remember it. Due to flaws in his memory, he didn’t quote Carey exactly, but it was close enough that it could not have come from anywhere else. And King didn’t give due credit to the true author. That’s plagiarism, and it isn’t “overblown.”
I said that the pro-King criticisms of the anti-King criticisms of King’s behavior are like the Wolf’s efforts against the house of the third pig in the old English folktale. They huff and they puff, but they don’t blow the house down.
Another example (from Snopes):
“While there was general agreement that King acted improperly, Clayborne Carson, head of the King Papers Project at Stanford where the plagiarism initially was uncovered, noted that King made no effort to conceal what he was doing, providing grounds for a belief that King was not willfully engaged in wrongdoing.”
The concealment of a plagiarism is inherent in the act. One conceals where due credit for authorship should be given by omitting mention of it in one’s writing. By what other means can one possibly conceal plagiarism? It isn’t as though you can both publish the writing and keep it secret, too. And nobody goes around saying “All of these words are my own; I didn’t steal them from anybody else,” even when it is true. You would not expect a plagiarizer to make that particular effort at concealment. It would obviously invite suspicion.
Another of the MLK-rehab comments concerns King’s adultery. The FBI obtained proof that Martin Luther King, Jr., had been having affairs while on speaking tours. They sent a copy of audio or audio-visual recordings to him. It is now being said by King apologists that King’s wife heard and/or viewed the documentation, but “it didn’t seem to touch her.”
How much does that mean, insofar as refuting the claim that MLK was a notorious adulterer goes?
Well, Camille is still with Bill Cosby, isn’t she?
The criticisms of MLK are brick houses. The leftist criticisms of those criticisms are houses made of straw.
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