Worse than the Klan: MLK on White “Moderates” discouraging Black Action


“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.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

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5 thoughts on “Worse than the Klan: MLK on White “Moderates” discouraging Black Action

      • I’m struggling with all that stuff. On the one hand, there are the obvious race issues to deal with all over the country. On the other hand, is Bernie Sanders really the dude whose rallies you want to be disrupting? I get it from a strategic viewpoint: He’s the internet darling so the news will travel fast and get a lot of eyeballs. And I get that until recently he wasn’t speaking strongly about race.

        But his policy positions (in my opinion) would be more helpful in indirect ways for issues of systemic racism than most candidates’ direct positions on systemic racism. And I also question whether this is an issue that should be attacked at a national policy level. Sure there should be a national discussion around race. But is the type of racism that we’re seeing lately—specifically police violence, which is what the BLM activists who have interrupted Sanders have referenced each time—better dealt with on a local level rather than on a national level? That’s an honest question. I’m interested to hear what you think. (To me, drug war and mandatory minimums = national level policy AND state level policy; police brutality = national level convo and state level policy)

        But if you’re going to jump up on someone’s stage and interrupt them, again, why Bernie Sanders? To me, it was as annoying to see that happen as when we saw Reformed people get up at the Hitchens/Wilson debate at WTS and call out Wilson on not being a presuppositionalist.

        But then again, maybe I’m exactly the type of person MLK is complaining about in this quote.

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        • Here is a helpful link on this: http://bit.ly/1Em3tLm

          It is tactical (the people paying attention to Sanders are the same people who would be most easily affected to do something on these issues), but it’s also an attempt to wake up white progressives who become complacent in their own progressivism while black and brown men and women die in our streets.

          It’s also worth noting that nearly ALL of these racial tensions happen where? Places with high concentrations of liberals and progressives, like cities. Even in a Red State like Missouri, Michael Brown was killed in a predominantly black neighborhood who is overwhelmingly Democrat.

          All that to say, black men and women die most frequently in those places where DEMOCRATS live, work, and govern. And yet, they still die. Progressives and Liberals are EXACTLY the people who need to attend to these matters.

          And….I’m not debating with you. None of this passion is directed at you. I TOTALLY get where you’re coming from and appreciate your thoughts. If anything, I have in mind all of those on Facebook saying dumb things. You’re not even close to that. Love you, brother.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I have serious doubts that “national conversations” do anything. The last few seem to be great speeches by Obama in response to a tragedy or other news-worthy event that were forgotten within days. I think the “conversation” happens more in fictional media–from Sesame Street to blockbuster movies. And I think, in general, the entertainment media is usually moving in the right direction. There are exceptions, but even big, broad summer blockbusters seem a little more inclusive and humanizing every year.

          On the other hand, direct policy action on both a national and local level is absolutely essential. There’s no reason for a Ferguson police force to change from within. It simply won’t happen without an external directive with consequences. Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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