Ben Carson Lies about Martin Luther King

Add Ben Carson to the long list of conservatives who are attempting to turn Martin Luther King into a right winger. Making such an argument requires one to lie profusely and Carson does so with no shame whatsoever in an interview with Tucker Carlson’s webrag, the Daily Caller.

On his view of Martin Luther King Jr. as a political conservative: “I think he would’ve been appalled if he were here today, to see all these people just sitting around, waiting for housing subsidies and for food stamps and for free health care. What he wanted was equality of opportunity. The last thing that he would be in favor of is redistributing all the wealth and allowing people to just sit around and collect. And when you read a lot of what he says, he’s talking about the merits of hard work and personal responsibility. That’s what he wanted. But during a lot of his time people were not given a fair shake. They were not given fair opportunity. That’s all that he really wanted. He didn’t want special treatment.”

Herman Cain said much the same thing a few weeks ago and many other right wingers have tried to magically transform MLK into a conservative. It’s a huge, blatant lie. Martin Luther King was a democratic socialist and was quite open about that. He argued that the government should provide a job for every America, argued for universal access to health care, and a guaranteed minimum income. This was King’s view:

We call our demonstration a campaign for jobs and income because we feel that the economic question is the most crucial that black people, and poor people generally, are confronting. There is a literal depression in the Negro community. When you have mass unemployment in the Negro community, it’s called a social problem; when you have mass unemployment in the white community, it’s called a depression. The fact is, there is major depression in the Negro community. The unemployment rate is extremely high, and among negro youth, it goes up as high as forty percent in some cities.

We need an economic bill of rights. This would guarantee a job to all people who want to work and are able to work. It would also guarantee an income for all who are not able to work. Some people are too young, some are too old, some are physically disabled, and yet in order to live, they need income. It would mean creating certain public-service jobs, but that could be done in a few weeks. A program that would really deal with jobs could minimize — I don’t say stop — the number of riots that could take place this summer…

We need to put pressure on Congress to get things done. We will do this with First Amendment activity. If Congress is unresponsive, we’ll have to escalate in order to keep the issue alive and before it. This action may take on disruptive dimensions, but not violent in the sense of destroying life or property: it will be militant nonviolence…

In any event, we will not have been the ones who will have failed. We will place the problems of the poor at the seat of government of the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind. If that power refuses to acknowledge its debt to the poor, it would have failed to live up to its promise to insure “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to its citizens.”

This was King’s view:

We must develop a program that will drive the nation to a guaranteed annual income. Now, early in this century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation, as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual’s ability and talents. And, in the thinking of that day, the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber. We’ve come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that the dislocations in the market operations of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will.

It’s amazing to me how shamelessly they slander the memory of one of America’s greatest heroes and lie so blatantly about him. And the fact that they lie so blatantly about something that can be disproved with 30 seconds of googling tells you how little they think of their followers.


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  • Matt G

    If MLK was such a conservative, then why was he labeled a socialist by the right wing of his day? Sorry, I was expecting Carson to be logical.

  • ianeymeaney

    “And the fact that they lie so blatantly about something that can be disproved with 30 seconds of googling tells you how little they think of their followers.”

    The fact that they have followers shows that their opinion of their followers is correct.

  • d.c.wilson

    When King was alive, they labeled him a communist. Now, 50 years after his death, they’re claiming him as one of their own. Weird.

  • tsig

    Who are these people that are just sitting around and collecting?

  • imthegenieicandoanything

    Carson strikes me as the kind of Neo-Tom who, unlike most of the rabid, corrupt, vain self-haters making money off of their antics, simply does not know what reality is. I believe he makes up facts moment by moment, directed by some weird blood clot in his brain – or perversely humorous alien control.

    He never makes sense, and his beliefs have no weight even to disturb. If he didn’t have “obviously” African heritage, nobody would bother with him at all.

    But conservatives have no standards, no sense, no shame, and can be hypnotized easier than chickens by any dark-skinned person willing to parrot their mantras.

  • Josef Mulroney

    for a retired brain surgeon this prick is awfully stupid.

  • colnago80

    RE #6

    Carson is also a creationist who rejects the Theory of Evolution. As I have stated previously, surgeons are like automobile mechanics. Automobile mechanics don’t have to know anything about the thermodynamics of internal combustion engines to work on car engines. Surgeons don’t have to know much about biology to perform their tasks.

  • Trebuchet

    for a retired brain surgeon this prick is awfully stupid.

    For some reason a great many brilliant specialists are complete loons outside their area of expertise. Mehmet Oz is, by all accounts, a brilliant surgeon. Outside the OR, he’s a complete whackaloon. Then there are Nobel prize winners William Shockley, James Watson, and Linus Pauling. And any number of very skilled engineers I’ve met over the course of the years.

    King, of course, was invested by J. Edgar for being a Nazi. Oh, wait, that was a Communist. It was Hoover that was the Nazi.

  • Trebuchet

    Well, that’s an interesting blockquote anomaly!

  • Modusoperandi

    And Lincoln was against a strong central government sticking its nose in to State’s Rights issues.

  • colnago80

    Re Trebuchet @ #8

    Not to forget Brian Josephson, Nobel Prize winner in physics who believes in cold fusion, PK, and ESP.

  • Chiroptera

    Hee hee. “Webrag.” I’m going to have to remember that one.

  • Steve Hand

    I see that some here including the author are not really reading the words of either of the quoted persons. I would not claim to be an expert of the writings of either, but I can read and understand. Mr. King wanted the government to provide a job for those that need it. They would work for money, not be given it. Mr. Carson believes that Mr. King would be shocked and disappointed that we would simply give money to people rather than requiring work in return. Neither statement is in conflict. Knowing little about Mr. King, it is plausible to me that he would have wanted jobs for pay out of the government rather than just pay, i.e. entitlements.

    Let us not have arguments about perceptions and bias. Let us discuss facts and responses to problems framed by these facts. I direct this last comment to the author. There may be reasons to fault Mr. Carson for his misreading of Mr. King, but these quotes do not support that argument.

  • John Phillips, FCD

    Steve Hand, read the above quote by Ed again, you know, the part in the economic bill of rights paragraph where MLK says an income for those who can’t work, whatever the reason they can’t work. That is effectively socialism, for socialism doesn’t believe in just handing out money willy nilly, but only to those in need. Of course, the average USAian would have difficulty in actually accurately defining socialism or even communism, having been fed a bogey man version of both for decades.