Linda Sarsour and the Rejection of Martin Luther King, Jr.
On a recent MSNBC news discussion show, left-wing anti-Zionist activist Linda Sarsour claimed:
Dr. Martin Luther King warned us about people like Chuck Schumer. He said it wasn’t the Ku Klux Klan and white citizen counselors who were the obstacles towards justice. It was people calling for “civility” and people that were telling us when to protest and at what time and how to protest.
I find it fascinating that “progressives” like Linda Sarsour have the chutzpah to evoke Martin Luther King, Jr., when the very last thing that King stood for was Sarsour’s brand of ideological racism.
The primary admonition of Dr. King was to judge people according to their individual character, rather than immutable characteristics like ethnicity. This was the fundamental message of his “I Have a Dream” speech on the National Mall on August 28, 1963. How someone who represents the American left could not understand this requires explanation.
Anti-racism was the essential message of the civil rights movement in the United States following World War II. Yet Sarsour insists, “If you’re in a movement and you’re not following a woman of color, you’re in the wrong movement.”
This notion contradicts the teachings of King and of the entire movement for social justice — from abolitionism to Abbie Hoffman — because it is racist on its face. What Sarsour is saying, in no uncertain terms, is that the quality of one’s character is directly determined by one’s ethnicity and gender.
This is turning the ideals of the civil rights movement inside out and backwards.
Sarsour also claimed, as Elder of Ziyon noted in a piece entitled, “The amazing color-changing Linda Sarsour” (September 4, 2017):
When I wasn’t wearing hijab I was just an ordinary white girl from New York City.
Wearing hijab made you know that I was a Muslim.
Generally, when we speak of a person’s “color,” we are talking about ethnicity. As long ago as the late 1970s, it was primarily backward-thinking racists and simpletons who considered “race” indicative of character. This is because the United States has come a long way in an exceedingly short period of time regarding ethnic relations.
It is sad that so long after 1968 and the assassination of Dr. King, many of his alleged spiritual-political heirs cannot stand the idea that the United States is actually among the least racist, least prejudicial countries in the world.
The cognitive dissonance is almost too painful to contemplate.
The fundamental point of King’s legacy, and indeed of the civil rights movement prior to the rise of mid-to-late 1960s Black Nationalism, was that we should not judge people according to their skin color or ethnicity or gender. To do so is both racist and illiberal. Sadly, Linda Sarsour and her allies are both.
If you want to understand how it is that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the last US national election, understand the significance of politically correct overreach. Within it you will find many liberal workers of European descent who do not appreciate being castigated as racist for no other reason than being “white.”
Michael Lumish is a PhD in American history from the Pennsylvania State University and has taught at PSU, San Francisco State University, and the City College of San Francisco. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.