Monday, January 17, 2005

You don't have to follow me, only you can set me free

Good morning (more or less) readers. It's a rare occasion when I drag my kilted carcass into the daylight willingly, but today is a worthy exception. If you are a regular visitor to the blog (or capable of clicking on the archive links) you'll know that I don't exactly care for stupidity. I'm no friend to deception or idol worship either. In point of fact, I'm a firm supporter of truth. Therefore, while many folks throughout the nation will be celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I the Stew will not.

If you like your public figures lionized and placed upon pedestals with slavish unthinking worship, then read no further. Just claim that I'm a racist and a bigot and move on. You're not going to listen to anything I might have to say anyways.

Now, on to the matter at hand. For someone that's been held up as a model of virtue and a great thinker of our times, Mr. King falls far short of the traits he's been attributed with. There are plenty of internet rumors circulating with all sorts of claims (the white supremacist group Storm Front has some particularly nasty ones, and is regarded by many as being the source of many of the chain letters you see in your inbox) I'm more concerned with the verifiable charges that have been proven through documented research.

chiefly, I'm disturbed by his lifelong pattern of plagiarism. As someone spending thousands of dollars a year to obtain a college education, I find it sickening that simply because Mr. King was famous, he was given a complete pass on plagiarism in his doctorate thesis by Boston University. This is well-documented by The King Papers Project, an extensive review of Mr. King's written work, which uncovered it in the late 1980's. It should be noted that the project was initiated with no animosity towards Mr. King, and indeed was an attempt to collect all of his works for publication by the King Center. If they had any bias regarding Mr. King, it almost certainly was pro-King. Of particular note is the project director's article regarding King's history of plagiarism found here. His co-director backs this account here. Or try Theodore Pappas's book on the subject. Or, well, you get the idea.
I know if I'm ever considering a doctoral degree, I'll stay away from BU. Though it would be nice to get my diploma in half the time, it would be worth less than one from ICS. A theological degree from BU has zero integrity so long as they acknowledge Mr. King's rampant theft, yet still refuse to revoke his doctorate because of political sensitivity. (and the backlash from potential donors) I'm certainly not famous, left-wing, or dead enough to get away with a massive plagiarism campaign.

During the FBI's surveillance of King throughout the 60's, he was connected with both communist party members and numerous accounts of infidelity. Plenty has been written about this by more informed souces than I, so I merely point you to them.
To paraphrase Walter Sobchak, "Say what you will about the tenets of communism, Dude. At least it's an ethos." While I firmly believe communism has been a terrible scourge upon the earth, responsible for uncounted millions of deaths and exponentially more suffering, other people choose to gloss over this and feel good about believing in "equality." Mr. King is on record as being anti-capitalist and privately referred to himself as something of a Marxist... during a time when neither one of those beliefs were very healthy at all.
I have to say that this was the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover, who is noted for the zeal with which he pursued even the whiff of communism in public society, so take it with a grain of salt. Nobody but those involved in the investigation will really know what was in Mr. King's FBI file until 2027, when they are unsealed by the National Archives. I think there's at least a kernel of truth in the rumors, but time will tell.

All of the above being said, it's undeniable that Mr. King did help to improve a lot of people's lives in the course of his work. He faced violence and hatred for what he believed in, regardless of what that was. I grant him a measure of respect for that, without being further disgusted that it was all built on a pack of lies. What I find particularly galling is that the King Center, and Coretta Scott King in particular, demand licensing fees and royalties on work that her husband stole in the first place. Way to keep your meal ticket intact there, ma'am.

I'm not going to pretend that I made many friends today, and I'll certainly miss any of the ones I've lost. If after all this time, you pick this one issue to decide to hate me over, you should re-examine why you were originally my friend at all. Martin Luther King Day is simply one day out of 365ΒΌ, so let's not blow it too far out of proportion.
Still, thanks for reading this far with an open mind. Now go enjoy your Monday.


Blogger Stewed Hamm said...

If you just scrolled down here to leave a nasty comment, then really, what's the point? You can't honestly or effectively rebut something you haven't even bothered to read. You'll only become what you're railing against, and by doing so help to prove my point.
Besides, I'll just delete the trolls anyway.

10:43 AM, January 17, 2005  
Anonymous Ruth said...

I always believe Snopes.

12:25 AM, March 05, 2010  

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