Tony Perkins, Mike Pence, and the MAGA Right For Life Marchers

Indigenous Peoples March in DC

New Orleans        I heard King, though not clearly, as one of more than 100,000 once at the Spring Mobilization Against the Vietnam War in 1967 in front of the United Nations.  On the holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, we think back on his speeches on the Washington Mall and the dream he shared of another world much different still than the one in which we live.

Incredibly on that same mall, we now are forced to read about youngsters from a catholic high school in Kentucky near Louisville, wearing Make America Great Again Trump hats, in a verbal confrontation with an elder Native American.  After a protest at the Lincoln Memorial with other native groups, with his drum beating he had stepped into the middle of a racial confrontation between these hopped up white boys and a black group.  No one would expect this to turn out well in these days and times.

All of which brings me back to Tony Perkins and the hate and division he broadcasts on a daily basis in his “Washington Watch” radio show which stirs the pot for this kind of mayhem, just as he was doing last week in beating his drum to hype up the crowd going to what has become an annual Right to Life March on the mall.

Tony Perkins is not just another rightwing motor mouth.  He’s a serious hater.  If you’ve missed the positions he and the Family Research Council espouse, here’s a short list.  He’s livid about LGBT rights.  He’s touted a constitutional amendment defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.  He’s against the minimum wage, but he’s OK with white supremacists.  He has spoken to such groups, and he bought the mailing list from David Duke and the KKK when he ran for Senate in Louisiana.  He’s all about religion, but has slammed Islam.  The Family Research Council has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  You get the picture, right?

What is frightening to me is looking at the guest list for his radio show, especially now that I have listened to it recently on the road through southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana.  There’s nothing secret about this, it’s hidden in plain view on his website.  Recently, he has had as guests Senator James Lankford (R-OK), Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA), Representative Chris Smith (NJ), Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Representative Brian Babin (R-TX), Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Representative Don Bacon (R-NE), Ambassador Sam Brownback, the former Republican Governor of Kansas, and, here’s a gut check, Vice-President Mike Pence.  And, hey, this is just the politicians and elected officials who have been with him on his show in January!

No question many of these folks are his fellow-travelers, but it’s one thing for birds of a hateful feather to be flying together, but is this really the kind of company that the elected Vice President of the United States should be keeping?  This is a blatant endorsement of Perkins, the Family Research Council and its positions.   This Right to Life march seems to bring out the worst in folks.  Vice President Pence in this context makes King’s dream, another of our contemporary nightmares.


Please enjoy Winning Circle by Rick Ross, Misty Blanco, IB Mattic.

Thanks to KABF.


Martin Luther King Jr’s Warning about Liberals and the Poor Peoples’ Campaign

New Orleans   By favorite passage from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” written April 16, 1963 is worth remembering on this day when we are confronting blatant racism from the White House, obfuscations and fabrications from US Senators Tom Cotton from Arkansas and David Perdue from Georgia who suddenly rushed to his defense curing an earlier memory loss about President Trump’s remarks, and the quandary of so many who are trying to find sure footing, and unlike the Senators haven’t lost their memory or integrity.

King’s passage was pointed, when he wrote,

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

I thought of his words often when ACORN was under attack and deserted by so many allies and friends some years ago. I also thought of this passage as I listened to discussion recently by some organizations and activists about participation in the latest version of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign, planned for this spring and summer at the 50th anniversary of the first campaign convened by King, the SCLC, and others.

The question under debate went to the heart of the call for a “moral crusade” and civil disobedience in the coming campaign. Organizations and others were uncertain in their response, because they were confused at this stage in the planning at the lack of available details that would focus the campaign. Would there be action against the attacks on the poor or in the words of one minister, would the local events of the campaign just be “pep rallies?” Some were hopeful that the platform of the campaign would be more focused as more detailed plans emerged.

A more pointed critique goes to the heart of King’s letter. Several people pointed out that the big event in 2018 is the midterm election and the organizing focus already pointed at the prospects of flipping control of both houses of Congress. The essential argument many made was how could a campaign or crusade be effective if it lacked political content and focus. Was the campaign already suffering from a failure of will that would distract attention from the resistance witnessed in the Alabama Senate race upset? Were the good church people so often both the backbone and bane of King’s struggle also trying to dilute the impact of the campaign by appealing to morals on the spiritual side, rather than rolling up their sleeves and jumping into the more divisive grounds of hard political fights which could both protect and advance the interests of the poor?

We might fairly ask in these times, “What would Martin Luther King have done?”

There seems little doubt from his courage in the civil rights struggles, and then his opposition to the Vietnam War and his embrace of class concerns with the Poor Peoples’ Campaign, that he would not have shied from condemnation of the Trump system and leadership in the political resistance of this moment as well.