Of all the attempts to coopt Martin Luther King and turn him into a right winger, this conversation between Michael Peroutka, a genuine theocrat, and Steve Deace, may be the most ridiculous and pathetic. There are so many idiotic arguments in it.
Peroutka: The idea of a right isn’t consistent with the idea that it would come from man or that it would originate in a civil government. So the very term “civil rights” is kind of an oxymoron. There’s no “right” in the sense of a permanent, fixed, thing that you have, that can be defended, if in fact it comes from the civil government. And it’s ironic that many of those who are kind of the modern, welfare-state proponents, they quote or they harken back to Martin Luther King as if he was some proponent of civil rights, and he was not. He was not.
As we were pointing out, his speeches, the documents don’t reflect that. They reflect his understanding that rights come from God. You know, in that speech, again, that we talked about, the “I Have a Dream” speech, he said, I think, in that speech, that “we’ve come to Washington to cash a check.” He didn’t say, “We came for a handout!” He said, there’s something that’s legitimately owed to us, which is our rights, because we’re equal in the eyes of our creator, we’re equal before the law. He wasn’t saying, “We want you to give us a handout.” He said, you actually owe us the same defense of our rights that you’ve given others. That’s all we’re asking for.
That’s been perverted by his quote-unquote “followers” into something that he never said and I don’t think he ever meant.
Deace: In fact, those same people are the ones that are arguing that they have rights to practice forms of larceny imposed by government or forms of things that were called “depravity” or “immorality” in past eras. And they are using the argument that those are civil rights because a judge told me that I can steal from you. Or a legislator told me that I can take off of your paycheck before you even get to cash it, and that means I have that “right.” Or because a judge told me that I have the right to marry my car battery, that means that I actually do have that “right.”And what’s funny is that argument, that’s the sort of argument segregationists and Jim Crowists made that King was fighting against in his day. “Well, actually it doesn’t really matter what you think the Bible says, what matters is whether the state of so-and-so thinks you’re a free citizen or not. We decide whether you are a child made in the image of God or not, not God.”
So much dishonesty and stupidity packed into such a small amount of space. First, the utter inanity of both the premise and the conclusion to the argument that since rights come from God, Peroutka’s interpretation of the Bible determines the nature and limits of all rights. If that were the case, the Bill of Rights, particularly freedom of religion, could not exist. Of course, since Peroutka is a theocrat, that’s just fine with him.
Second, this moronic claim that MLK only wanted the rights God had already granted (where?), not anything from the government. Remember, the speech Peroutka mentions was given at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. And MLK argued that the government should guarantee a job to anyone who wants one, as well as a guaranteed minimum income, which Peroutka would call communism. Hell, he calls all government regulation and public assistance communism.
That’s what makes all this so absurd, right wingers like Peroutka and Deace savaged King as a communist while he was alive and now that he’s dead they keep trying to make him into one of them. How could anyone be deluded enough to believe them?