www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Unequal pay among genders -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

Fighting for Kansas veterans -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

School reductions -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

Dress for safety -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

Does losing due process create inadequacies? -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

Hate crimes -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

On with the prom -4/15/2014, 8:57 AM

Newman proud to be in western Kansas -4/14/2014, 8:57 AM

Waiting on revenue estimates -4/13/2014, 8:57 AM

Wake up, people, and see the danger we’re in -4/13/2014, 12:03 PM

Patronizing paychecks -4/13/2014, 12:03 PM

Stripping of teachers’ due process worrisome -4/13/2014, 6:11 AM

The Kansas Ministry of Truth -4/13/2014, 6:14 AM

Letterman, Hillary and Jeb: 21st Century symbols -4/13/2014, 6:10 AM

Expensive school bill -4/13/2014, 6:12 AM

How to assist evil -4/11/2014, 9:15 AM

Taxing life away -4/11/2014, 9:12 AM

Lying about Obamacare -4/11/2014, 9:17 AM

The talk radio party? -4/10/2014, 11:04 AM

Term limits -4/10/2014, 11:06 AM

Let's do what we do best -4/10/2014, 11:05 AM

Satisfying the court -4/9/2014, 10:45 AM

Late-night funding fight -4/9/2014, 10:44 AM

‘Farmland’ — art is life on screen -4/9/2014, 10:45 AM

Tradition not changing -4/8/2014, 12:02 PM

Flat as a pancake -4/8/2014, 11:22 AM

Willing to take a bet -4/8/2014, 11:24 AM

Exposure to violence threatens children’s future -4/8/2014, 11:23 AM

Battling MS -4/7/2014, 8:58 AM

Why Renewable Fuel Standard matters -4/7/2014, 9:23 AM

Rites and wrongs of spring -4/7/2014, 9:23 AM

Coming to terms with Brownback -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

Are 'religious viewpoint' laws needed in schools? -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

School non-funding -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

Sex and race equality -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Rest of the story -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Bank on USPS to save 'bank deserts' -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Gambling and government -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Not merely water under the bridge -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Federal fine -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Twister time is here again -4/2/2014, 9:59 AM

School funding battle continues -4/2/2014, 9:59 AM

Watching for the flip-floppers -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Will Hays enter the 21st century? -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Tax breaks -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Hobby Lobby case a slippery slope -3/31/2014, 9:16 AM

Happy birthday, Gloria -3/31/2014, 9:16 AM

Unequal voting -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Protecting the pollinators -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Parties, politicians and seeking an advantage -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Healthy aging -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Threatened chicken -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

As temperatures rise, pay attention to stored grain -3/30/2014, 3:49 PM

Bizarre arguments and behavior -3/28/2014, 10:06 AM

In your dreams -3/28/2014, 10:06 AM

Against the wind -3/28/2014, 10:05 AM

Discovering the salt of the earth -3/28/2014, 10:05 AM

Entrepreneurship key to economic growth -3/27/2014, 8:36 AM

Kansas goes Kremlin with arrests, secrecy -3/27/2014, 8:36 AM

Get ready for Arbor Day -3/26/2014, 2:03 PM

Reading between the lines -3/26/2014, 2:02 PM

Switching parties -3/26/2014, 1:53 PM

Putting a price tag on damages -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Privately piercing, serious sacrifice -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Autism bill passes House -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

United stance -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Legislative session getting down to the end -3/25/2014, 10:12 AM

Taxation bill involving livestock successful -3/25/2014, 10:12 AM

STARBASE Day hits Topeka -3/24/2014, 10:13 AM

Judging based on accomplishments -3/24/2014, 10:14 AM

Who speaks for the voiceless? -3/24/2014, 10:14 AM

Fly Hays -3/23/2014, 1:12 PM

Learning from the candidates -3/23/2014, 1:12 PM

hedy -3/21/2014, 1:12 PM

-3/20/2014, 9:59 AM

Fred Phelps -3/20/2014, 9:59 AM

Is There Wage Stagnation? -3/20/2014, 9:58 AM

Cost of living, wages don't add up -3/20/2014, 4:01 PM

Legislative proposal raises questions -3/20/2014, 4:01 PM

No vote on war -3/19/2014, 3:32 PM

Wonder of St. Fidelis -3/19/2014, 4:01 PM

Protein for breakfast -3/19/2014, 2:58 PM

A pointed comment on guns -3/19/2014, 8:57 AM

Campaign madness -3/19/2014, 2:58 PM

Counting the cost of Kansas' Medicaid expansion -3/18/2014, 9:26 AM

Tax-relief spells a sure vote -3/18/2014, 9:26 AM

Tourney madness -3/18/2014, 9:25 AM

St. Patrick's Day -- The value of Irish humor -3/16/2014, 5:44 PM

Not all things are bad -3/16/2014, 5:44 PM

Supreme Court takes Legislature to school -3/16/2014, 5:43 PM

Parochial education -3/16/2014, 5:43 PM

Governed by rules, not men -3/14/2014, 10:00 AM

More guns: Merrier or scarier? -3/14/2014, 10:00 AM

The war on women -3/13/2014, 9:51 AM

Labeling the education can -3/13/2014, 9:51 AM

Taking exception -3/12/2014, 2:03 PM

Choose wisely in today's society -3/12/2014, 2:02 PM

Budget concerns -3/12/2014, 2:01 PM

Courting judicial changes -3/11/2014, 10:33 AM

House now on home stretch -3/11/2014, 10:33 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

On race, conservatives are silent

Published on -2/3/2014, 12:02 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

"I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes, you get the feeling that's the only King quote conservatives know.

They can't quote what he said about unions: "We can all get more together than we can apart."

They can't quote what he said about poverty: "The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income."

They can't quote what he said about injustice: "America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked, 'insufficient funds.' "

But they always quote the "content of character" passage from King's "I Have a Dream" speech. They see it as supportive of their ideal of a so-called "colorblind" society wherein race ­-- and racial problems -- never are acknowledged.

Sarah Palin is the latest. Last week on the King holiday, she quoted that passage on Facebook and added: "Mr. President, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and all who commit to ending any racial divide, no more playing the race card."

You will hear President Barack Obama talk about race only slightly more frequently than you will hear Mitch McConnell say, "Get down, with your bad self," so there was a moment of disconnect in trying to figure out what she was talking about. Apparently, the reference was to a piece in last week's New Yorker where Obama acknowledged there are "some folks who really dislike me because they don't like the idea of a black president." He also said some people probably cut him slack for the same attribute.

By now, most thoughtful people would take both observations as self-evident. And you have to wonder: If this mild remark is "playing the race card," what, then, might we permissibly say about race in Palin's ideal world? Apparently, nothing.

Thus, you will wait in vain for a conservative to speak against the profiling of Trayvon Martin, the mass incarceration of black men under the failed War on Drugs or, ahem, the myriad racially tinged attacks against Obama. Indeed, other than their cries of pious indignation when some black conservative is mistreated, you'll wait in vain to hear them say anything about race at all.

To acknowledge we did not overcome, to admit there are miles to go before the Promised Land is to play the dreaded "race card." So, mass incarceration? Don't talk about it. Racial profiling? Hush. Economic exploitation? Ignore it, and it will go away.

You have to wonder, as conservatives make their belated embrace of Martin Luther King, if they realize they are what he struggled against all his life. They've never been on the right side of history where black people are concerned. So where do they get the idea they have moral authority on the subject of black struggle? Where do they get the temerity to shush those who have labored in -- and lived -- that struggle for years, generations and lifetimes?

The silence they preach is not golden. It is poison. It is moral cowardice.

But it is not new. The race card? Though that term did not exist in his lifetime, King was familiar with the argument. His focus on racial injustice, said critics, fanned flames of racial tension.

To which King said this: "We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with."

Another quote most conservatives will not know. Too bad. If they understood it, they might better understand the man they purport to embrace.

"Our lives begin to end," King said, "the day we become silent about things that matter."

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald.

lpitts@miamiherald.com

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos