Collin : Early in his administration we were treated to depictions of Obama as FDR. Obama as Lincoln is an association the president himself works assiduously to cultivate, as Rich Lowry has noted. Using MLK in the same fashion is flattering to the president’s image, but the result is a misleading picture of MLK, one in which his conservative features have been photoshopped out.

Conservatives admire MLK for a couple of attributes that the left tends to overlook. His message that skin color is as nothing compared with content of character was both an affirmation of equality for blacks and an olive branch to whites worried about the possibility of reverse racism. A man of the cloth, he preached a political theology that was both high-minded and effective, a difficult combination; he learned from Gandhi. Richard John Neuhaus, a young associate, went on to devote his life to defending the role of religion in “the public square,” as he called it.

About both of those dimensions of MLK’s legacy, the acceptance of post-racialism and the exercise of religion in public life, the left is ambivalent at best. When it implies that if MLK had another son he would look like Barack Obama, it confirms the right’s impression that the left refuses to understand MLK on his own terms.

Articles by Nicholas Frankovich

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