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Senator Clinton’s Comments Seek To Diminish M.L. King & The Civil Rights Movement

Senator Hillary Clinton made comments in New Hampshire last week that sought to diminish the role of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement.

(Please click here for a Texas Liberal Martin Luther King Reading and Reference List. It is the best list of its kind on the web.)

Mrs Clinton said—“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a President to get it done.” 

Mrs. Clinton’s comments were part of her effort since the Iowa caucus to belittle the optimism felt by many over the campaign of Senator Barack Obama.    

Along these lines, former President Bill Clinton described the Obama theme of hope as a “fairy tale.

It’s no surprise that the Clintons would play down the work done by the Civil Rights movement and the idea that we can do more than settle for the least bad option.

Clintonism has always been about settling for the least bad option in a conservative era.

Now that the conservative era may be coming to an end, what strategy is left but to ridicule the idea that people believing in anything more than the imagination-killing pragmatism of centrist politics can make America better?  

For the record, Mrs. Clinton’s reading of history is simply wrong. As well-detailed in Carol Polsgrove’s Divided Minds–Intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement and David L. Chappell’s excellent  A Stone of Hope—Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow, many white liberals and white intellectuals were  slow to embrace the cause of Civil Rights.

From Stone of Hope—“It is hard to sort out whether liberals cared a great deal about racism, but lacked the power to challenge it, or simply cared too little about racism, until black voters and protesters forced their hand…in the 1960’s.”  

While many whites did take personal and political risks to aid the cause of Civil Rights, if Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement had waited for someone other than themselves to bring about freedom, they might well still be waiting.  

And if in 2008 we look to Hillary Clinton to inspire us beyond the mess we find ourselves in today, we will also have a very long wait.

January 11, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Martin & Malcolm, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments