Misquoting MLK

Originally posted at American Thinker. blog

To the amazement of many, President Obama actually counts himself among a short list of historical greats, and in fact perceives himself to be a little bit Lincoln and a little bit MLK. So much so that in 2010, along with quotes from John F. Kennedy and Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King were both honored in a redecorated Oval Office.

Indelibly embroidered into the Oval Office rug was a quote attributed to King: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  But the problem is that the words were actually those of “abolitionist, Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist thinker” Theodore Parker.  Civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was such an admirer of Parker that he often wove the minister’s eloquent words into the tapestry of his own powerfully moving speeches.

Misappropriation of words is not unusual; even Constitutional law professor Barack Obama has been known to confuse the United States Constitution with, and has also misquoted, the Declaration of Independence.

Out promoting liberal policy, Obama once attempted to build a consensus of likeminded people when, concerning the torture of prisoners of war, he assigned words to conservative British politician Winston Churchill that he never actually said.  On occasion, Obama has even been known to distort the Word of God by bumbling a Bible verse or two.

Not that America holds Obama responsible for the accuracy of every word spoken or written, but one would think that during the first African-American presidency, quotes attributed to a civil rights leader of the caliber of Martin Luther King Jr. should at least be accurate.  Especially since the President takes every possible opportunity to compare himself to King whom, unlike Obama, was a humble humanitarian.

Now, just prior to Martin Luther King Day 2012, we come to find out that the monument situated on the National Mall between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials has an out-of-context quote inscribed on the “north face of the 30-foot-tall granite statue.”

The quotation reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” Dr. King’s son, Martin Luther King III, told CNN, “That was not what Dad said.” Maya Angelou, poet, civil rights activist, and friend of the Kings, says the shortened version is boastful and makes MLK sound like an “arrogant twit” when in reality he was nothing of the sort.

Taken from a sermon given two months prior to his assassination entitled “The Drum-Major Instinct,” King’s self-written pre-mortem eulogy’s goal was to expose the evil danger of promoting oneself.  The accurate version was: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Nonetheless, because President Obama spoke at the dedication of the monument, there is an upside to having an error etched in stone. Purportedly there to honor King, as usual Obama used the opportunity to extract sympathy for his own misguided partisanship woes by linking King’s struggle for equality was his own self-inflicted wounds, and in so doing accomplished exactly what Dr. King’s speech condemned.

Had self-aggrandizing Barack Obama not been a small boy at the time, if he had had the honor of attending the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, on February 4, 1968 and stayed to listen, he would have been chastised by King for the folly associated with the type of behavior that appears to be part of Barack’s DNA. Thus, it was a good thing at the dedication ceremony MLK’s words were not yet clarified, as inaccuracy averted an embarrassing situation for the President.

Standing in the shadow of the monument, if King’s quote had been in proper context the President would have looked just like the egotistical braggart he is.  Unlike Barack Obama, Reverend King was unassuming and self-aware.  A godly man, he recognized the weakness of humanity and assigned to the fleshly nature the “basic human instinct” to be your own drum major, a quality Barack Obama excels at.

Prophetically speaking, Reverend King rightly said that seeking “recognition and praise…is dangerous and can lead to many social ills, including bigotry.” He argued that the drum major “instinct [could] be harnessed for noble ends, but only by doing good works and not by seeking accolades for doing them.”

Not seeking praise for charitable works is the basic principle of “when you give to the needy, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” a habit look-at-me liberals like Barack ‘entitlement’ Obama seem incapable of breaking.

Although on what would have been Martin Luther King’s 83rd birthday the rug in the Drum Major-in-Chief’s Oval Office will remain incorrectly inscribed, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has given the National Park Service 30 days to correct the quote on the MLK monument and put it into proper context.

The only problem is that, after the drum major quote is corrected, it will be quite awkward for Barack Obama to speak at the monument again if modest words are to be the backdrop to his speech. So, if the President does choose to return, just like the last time he should make sure to position his podium on the south side of the monument under the MLK quote: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope,” which more accurately describes the rocky condition of his desperately hopeless “Hope and Change” presidency.


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