Mike Pence whitewashes Martin Luther King, and Chris Hayes notes that there were plenty of well-meaning (and mostly white) liberals telling Martin Luther King to hold off on racial justice. Which side are WE on?
January 22, 2019

Chris Hayes couldn't believe Mike Pence decided to invoke Martin Luther King as an argument for a southern border wall. Pence indicated Sunday that he hoped people would "come to the table in good faith" to negotiate an end to Donald Trump's government shutdown. Really.

CHRIS HAYES: There's a moment right before the vice president started that thoroughly preposterous riff, where he glances down at his notes and looks like a diver taking a peek at the water below: "Am I really going to do it?" He did it. And the nicest thing you could say about it is "points for chutzpah," I guess? Because no, Mr. Vice President, making the promises of democracy was not about getting a wall.

But then Hayes said this, about all of us:

HAYES: There were people who took the "come to the table in good faith" approach, but they were quite literally the people King was arguing against. His famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" was a direct response to an open letter from local white clergy in Birmingham, chastising his approach to desegregation in this city. The pastors weren't outright white supremacists. They were sympathetic to King's goals, it was just the way he was doing it that was wrong. "We recognize the impatience of people who feel their hopes aren't being realized." Instead the clergy called for "honest and open negotiation of racial issues between citizens of our own metropolitan area, white and Negro." In other words, "come to the table in a spirit of good faith," as Pence put it. I go back to that letter from the clergy because it's a reminder of how seductive the language of social peace, and comity, and compromise are, even in the face of the most obviously violent evil. You hear an awful lot of that format of that critique today, about whatever group it is: from Black Lives Matter, to trans activists, to young people fighting to end fossil fuel use to save the planet from warming. That sure, what they are doing is admirable but they're going about it all wrong. It's worth asking ourselves on this day, will history view you and me in this moment, as standing on the side of the Birmingham clergy saying "go slow and don't rock the boat," or on the side of King and his vision?

Later on Monday Stephen Colbert pointed out the ridiculousness of connecting anything regarding Martin Luther King to a border wall, noting what he said at the Berlin Wall in 1964:


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