Ronald Reagan: Martin Luther King Had It Coming

Ronald Reagan responded to Martin Luther King's assassination by saying he had it coming.

Rick Perlstein gave Steve Kornacki a real insight into the way Conservatives thought about Martin Luther King back in his day. And after listening to Laura Ingraham's use of gun shot sound to denigrate Rep. John Lewis' speech, I think those sentiments still resonate today with most conservatives today.

For some real historical context, this discussion on Up with Steve Kornacki this week-end is a must see. In the first segment, Rick Perlstein draws attention to St Ronnie of wingnuts' comments after King's assassination:

He said he had it coming. He said, "it's the sort of great tragedy when we begin compromising with law and order and people started choosing which laws they would break."

He's referring to civil disobedience. This was pretty much a consensus view on the right among the same people who celebrate Martin Luther King now. Frankly, Martin Luther King had to be forgotten before he could be remembered. Martin Luther King called himself a socialist. Jesse Helms wasn't pulling that out of nowhere. His associate, Daniel Levinson, probably had been a communist. And the main demand of the march for jobs and freedom was a phrase that was resounding at the time but we don't remember it now, "a Marshal Plan for the cities", which meant a massive federal investment in developing the depressed areas of america. Which I don't think we heard in Washington [this past week-end]

Pretty sure we wouldn't hear that on Fox News of 1965 or 2013 either.

Nice one St. Ronnie, there isn't a black issue that he didn't race bait in his career.

"South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond wrote his constituents, "[W]e are now witnessing the whirlwind sowed years ago when some preachers and teachers began telling people that each man could be his own judge in his own case." Another, even more prominent conservative said it was just the sort of "great tragedy that began when we began compromising with law and order, and people started choosing which laws they'd break."

That was Ronald Reagan, the governor of California, arguing that King had it coming. King was the man who taught people they could choose which laws they'd break--in his soaring exegesis on St. Thomas Aquinas from that Birmingham jail in 1963:

"Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. ... Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong."

That's not what you hear from conservatives today, of course. What you get now are convoluted and fantastical tributes arguing that, properly understood, Martin Luther King was actually one of them (Glenn Beck) -- or would have been, had he lived.

Read the rest of Danish Brethren's post over at DKos.

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