Who Are Justice Sunday's Ministers of Minstrelsy?
Max Blumenthal printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 10:38:59 AM EST
"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others... are known to have left-wing associations. It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed"         --Scheduled Justice Sunday III speaker Rev. Jerry Falwell

"I want to boldly affirm Uncle Tom. The black community must stop criticizing Uncle Tom. He is a role model."                       --Scheduled Justice Sunday III speaker Rev. Wellington Boone

Christian right leaders love to invoke the legacy of the civil rights movement in their struggle to undo it. During Justice Sunday II, born-again Watergate felon Chuck Colson declared that the Christian right was doing nothing but "giving voice" to Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy. Later in the evening, the Catholic League's Bill Donohue told the nearly all-white, Southern Baptist audience, "Now we're in the back of the bus."

For Perkins, who is today perhaps the Christian right's most influential operative, linking his agenda to the civil rights movement serves a purpose almost as important as indulging the persecution fantasies of his followers. The image of Perkins and his allies as the logical heirs to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy helps obscure his past involvement with racist groups and figures as he advances an anti-civil rights agenda.

In 1996, while working as campaign manager for the failed US Senate candidacy of his mentor, Woody Jenkins, Perkins signed a check for nearly $90,000 to David Duke for the purchase of his phone bank list. Then, even after a steady stream of bad press doomed his own Senate campaign, Perkins spoke at a 2001 fundraiser for the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white nationalist group which has called blacks "a retrograde species of humanity" on its website. And this Sunday, Perkins will be joined by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who incited opposition to the civil rights movement from the pulpit in 1950's and 1960's Virginia.

Seeking to continue his image makeover while advancing the case for the confirmation of Samuel Alito, who would, by all accounts, severely limit civil rights, Tony Perkins has staged Justice Sunday III at a black church in inner-city Philadelphia. And he has assembled three black speakers to sermonize by his side, including Martin Luther King's Jr.'s niece, Alveda King. Judging from their past statements and activities, it looks like these figures been providing cover for racial reactionaries for the entire span of their careers. This Sunday will be no exception.

Esther Kaplan has already done a thorough job with her summary of Justice Sunday III, so here is what I can add:

Wellington Boone

Boone makes no secret of his theocratic intentions. He's a member of the Dominionist umbrella group, Coalition on Revival, which advocates the replacement of Constitutional democracy with Biblical law. He's also a former leader of the right-wing Christian men's group, the Promise Keepers, which, with its overt promotion of women's submission (along with a theocratic patriarchy), makes Arnold Schwarzenegger look like Andrea Dworkin.

Boone makes no secret of his bizarre racial views either. Consider this statement he made in his book, "Breaking Through:" "I want to boldly affirm Uncle Tom. The black community must stop criticizing Uncle Tom. He is a role model." Or this, in the same book: "I believe that slavery, and the understanding of it when you see it God's way, was redemptive." Or this, on Pat Robertson's 700 Club, in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina: "We need to consider the culture of those people still stranded in New Orleans. The looting of property, the trashing of property, et cetera, speaks to the basic character of the people. These people who have gone through slavery, segregation and the Voting Rights Act are doing this to themselves." Now that's putting the compassion in "compassionate conservatism."

Herb Lusk

The host of Justice Sunday III and former NFL benchwarmer known as "the praying tailback" used to be a Democrat. Then, thanks to the aggressive lobbying of Sen. Rick Santorum, George W. Bush's Office of Faith Based Initiatives began bankrolling Lusk's operations, starting with an grant of over $900,000 in 2002. Then, like magic, Lusk became a rock-ribbed Republican.

Lusk's hosting of Justice Sunday III is not the first time he's provided political help to the GOP leadership. In 2000, in possible violation of IRS laws, Lusk delivered the invocation at the Republican National Convention. Four years later, he hosted the President at his church for a speech praising abstinence as the best -- and perhaps, only -- way to prevent AIDS. Lusk also provides much-need cover for Santorum, allowing him to highlight their work together whenever his support for tax cuts for the rich, Walmart, and opposition to the Family Leave Act and affirmative action are criticized. As Santorum's possibly doomed re-election campaign kicks into high gear, he is joining Lusk at Justice Sunday III.

Alveda King

A few years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, his niece, Alveda, had what she now calls "an involuntary abortion." A few years later, after Roe v. Wade was decided, she had another abortion. Her response to what she has characterized as a personal crisis was to join up with the offspring of the anti-integration movement -- the Christian right -- in the struggle to ban abortion. So much for internal reflection.

"My grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King Sr., once said, 'No one is going to kill a child of mine,'" Alveda King wrote on her website. "Tragically, two of his grandchildren had already been aborted when he saved the life of his next great-grandson with this statement." Move over George Wallace. Planned Parenthood has tossed the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and said, 'abortion now,' 'abortion tomorrow,' 'abortion forever.'

In the 1990's, Alveda King became an ardent supporter of school vouchers for inner city children. Yet her advocacy was performed through a well-compensated fellowship at the right-wing Alexis De Tocqueville Institution. The ADT Institution (and by extension, King, during her fellowship) is essentially a front for big business interests and conservative foundations like Scaife, Olin and Bradley. During the period the Bradley Foundation subsidized King's fellowship at ADT, it was  funding Charles Murray's infamous "Bell Curve" study asserting that blacks and Latinos are genetically inferior to whites and Asians.

Historical Amnesia

On Sunday, King, Lusk and Boone will share the stage with the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Perhaps they're too young to remember the sermon Falwell delivered from his segregated Thomas Road Baptist Church in 1958, "Segregation and Integration: Which?" in which he declared that integration would lead to the destruction of the white race.

Maybe they have forgotten Falwell's 1963 attack from the pulpit on LBJ's civil rights legislation: "It should be considered civil wrongs rather than civil rights." And they might be unable to recall that, according to William Martin's "With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America," Falwell distributed anti-MLK literature provided to him by J. Edgar Hoover. Or that he founded a "Christian academy" in 1966 described by the Lynchburg News as "a private school for white students."

I find it hard to believe, however, that Boone, Lusk and King could be unaware of Falwell's famous 1965 sermon, "Ministers and Marches," in which he assailed MLK and his allies more stridently than ever. In this sermon, Falwell questioned "the sincerity and intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations. It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed." Falwell added, "Preachers are not called to be politicians, but to be soul winners." (If only he'd followed his own advice.)

Martin Luther King once said, "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism, or in the darkness of destructive selfishness." In joining racial reactionaries this Sunday in support of Samuel Alito's appointment to the Supreme Court, Boone, Lusk and Alveda King have chosen the latter.




Display:
Although Rev. Falwell's expressions of white supremacist views in the 1950s and 1960s were not intelligently designed, he would likely claim to have evolved since then. His speech is now much more inclusive, encompassing attacks on gays and lesbians, Muslims, and others with whom he disagrees. So if Rev. Falwell can admit that he was wrong in his moral judgment on racial discrimination in the 1950s and 1960s, he may continue to evolve, and may one day admit that he was wrong to excoriate gays, lesbians, and Muslims.

by jhutson on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 11:45:39 AM EST

  1. The word Minstrel seems egregious. They aren't using it, which means you are introducing it.

  2. The most important thing, I'd say, is that reporters who might cover Injustice Sunday know this information, but when I look at it from their perspective, I think a couple things:
 a. Gosh, it's long, will there be anything good?
 b. The stuff on Falwell, the newest stuff is 1965? Lots of people, maybe even most people in my neck of the woods, agreed with that back then. Now, maybe they shouldn't have read the fake stories Hoover put into the papers, but how would they have known?

One sec...

by JoshNarins on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 11:56:53 AM EST


This comment has been deleted by Esther Kaplan



by Esther Kaplan on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 12:17:13 PM EST

I tried whipping up a version of the article (almost identical text) the way I might like to see it. It's still fairly ugly, but you might get the idea...

Still need to add paragraph indenting, and, like I said, it is ugly.

Lesson? Write in HTML

by JoshNarins on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 12:48:18 PM EST

It's a very good one. I'd just been considering that approach. I could implement it quite neatly with css.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 01:32:45 PM EST
Parent


I sincerely enjoyed it; thank you for the information and the links.

The point is that Jerry Falwell hasn't changed, at least in one sense; he continues to fire up his base, and get money coming in by attacking a minority or those suffering from lack of equal protection of the law, not hestiating to hang around extremists.  Tony Perkins has changed his spots either.


by Maat on Sun Jan 08, 2006 at 02:35:22 AM EST



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