Steve Bannon used to say Martin Luther King Jr. “would be proud” of Donald Trump. Umm, what ?
In predictable, reality-bending fashion, Trump’s former strategist and consultant Steve Bannon made a bold assert about how King would feel about Trump’s performance thus far in his presidency. Speaking to BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, he said, “If you look at the policies of Donald Trump, anybody … Martin Luther King would be proud of him, of what he’s done for the black and Hispanic community for jobs.”
Maitlis clarified — somehow with a straight face — “You believe Martin Luther King would be proud of Donald Trump as chairperson? ”
Bafflingly, Bannon charged straight ahead:
“You don’t suppose Martin Luther King would be proud? Appear at the unemployment we had in the black community five years ago. You don’t suppose Martin Luther King would sit there and run’ Yes, you’re putting young black men and women to run. There’s the lowest unemployment we’ve had in history. And wages are starting to rise among the working class. And you’ve finally stopped the illegal alien labor forces coming in and vying with them every day, and destroying the schools and destroying the healthcare.’ Absolutely.”
Before we get to what King’s daughter had to say about that, let’s promptly review those unemployment numbers .
Indeed, the black unemployment rate is the lowest it’s ever seen. But that rate has been falling steadily since the middle of Obama’s term as chairman. Bannon specifies the change in the rate from five years ago, but neglects to acknowledge that the great majority of that drop happened under Obama.
Here’s the government’s own Bureau of Labor Statistics chart for black unemployment since 2008 😛 TAGEND
The same runs for Hispanic unemployment. Yes, it’s the lowest it’s been in 25 years, but it’s also been steadily falling since 2011 😛 TAGEND
Trump’s policies have not made some kind of dramatic turnaround in unemployment — the trend is simply continuing. There have been no miracles performed here, unless you consider riding on someone’s economic coattails a miracle.
Now, on to King’s response.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter Bernice shut Bannon down — real quick.
Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest infant, reacted to Bannon’s interview, and let’s just say she’s not having it.
” #SteveBannon has dangerously and erroneously co-opted my father’s name, run and terms, ” King wrote on Twitter. “Bannon’s assertion that my father, #MLK would be proud of Donald Trump wholly ignores Daddy’s commitment to people of all races, nationalities, etc. being treated with dignity and respect.”
She then explained how her “father’s concerns were not sectional, but global.”
Setting the record straight on what her father actually would and wouldn’t do, King wrote, “Further, he would not refer to people as ‘illegal aliens.’ The term is degrading and does not reflect his notion that we are all a part of the human family.” She added that he’d never pit one group against another.
But she wasn’t done. She called Bannon’s comments “empty calories, ” and explained how her father would be “extremely disturbed” by the current political climate that emboldens people to “easily express and demonstrate brutality, predominantly toward people of color and immigrants.”
King capped off her commentary with how her father would actually view those unemployment numbers:
Well, there you have it, Mr. Bannon.
People of all political stripes try to mold Martin Luther King Jr. to fit their agenda. It’s a problem.
While usually more subtle and less blatantly ridiculous than Bannon’s affirmations, people often choice small pieces of King’s message to suit their narrative. But such simplification dishonors the man and his accomplishments. At the core, King was a revolutionary humanitarian. He championed not only the black American, but the poor person, the immigrant, and every human being experiencing oppression and injustice.
Thank goodness for Bernice King’s perspective in the age of cherry-pickingMLK quotes and whitewashing his legacy. We need to keep defending truth and shut down those who try to bend reality to justify racism and fear-mongering.
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