UPDATE: A blast from the past–from the May 9, 1992 edition of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News, here is a far less reverent state Rep. Mike Coffman when it came to honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As written by John Sanko and Fawn Germer in their recap of "Unforgettable Moments of the '92 Legislative Session."
The "He's Got Some Nerve" Award
This goes to Rep. Mike Coffman, who missed all but a week of the 1991 session to serve in the gulf war. But when Rep. Wilma Webb was excused for Martin Luther King Day and Democrats wanted the House to "lay over" the vote on a bill she supported, Coffman argued against it. Although bills routinely are laid over, Coffman said Webb should have showed up if she wanted to vote. [Pols emphasis]
That was then, folks, and this is now–original post follows.
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As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels cheerily reports:
This year’s MLK parade featured an unprecedented number of Republicans, including Congressman Mike Coffman and state Sen. Greg Brophy, as the Colorado Republican Party continues its outreach to minorities. [Pols emphasis]
Party chairman Ryan Call said the GOP worked with American Conservatives of Color and had a registration booth at Civic Center Park and participated in a honk-and-wave.
“We’re building on what we did last year,” he said. “We have quite a number of Republicans that are marching in support of Martin Luther King day and demonstrating the commitment the Republican Party has for engagement within our community.”
Yesterday, GOP Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman issued this statement:
“Martin Luther King, Jr. blessed our country and the entire world with his life’s work to secure civil rights for all. It is fitting to honor the life of this great American and to recognize his legacy of promoting the self-evident truth that all people are created equal.”
We've posted a few more photos from Republican lawmakers who marched in the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Denver yesterday after the jump. Bartels' story has a photo supplied by Rep. Mike Coffman, grinning widely at the parade with Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Since the parade yesterday, and especially in the wake of Bartels' glowing write-up of "unprecedented" GOP participation, we've heard a variety of opinions, ranging from open contempt for what's perceived to be Republican hypocrisy and media whitewash, to honest gratitude for anyone who wishes to march in honor of Dr. King's work and legacy in American history. With that said, the history of the holiday honoring Dr. King and Republicans is not without controversy. President Ronald Reagan himself opposed the federal holiday, relenting only after it passed Congress by a veto-proof margin. A large body of conservative historiography seeks to undermine Dr. King's legacy, and the civil rights movement generally.
In fact, based on just about everything we learned in college, there's a huge gap between the ideology of Republicans who marched in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King yesterday, and the views of Dr. King. Rather than questioning the premise of this story, or asking a man like 2014 U.S. Senate also-ran Randy Baumgardner to comment on issues for which he (to put it charitably) is not qualified, we would like to know if there are any Republicans willing to endorse these statements by the same Dr. King they marched in honor of yesterday:
-When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
-A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
-We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity — thus capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism.
-We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifices. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad…the way to end poverty is to end the exploitation of the poor. Insure them a fair share of the government’s services and the nation’s resources. We must recognize that the problems of neither racial nor economic justice can be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.
-Yes, before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood. Some will be dismissed as dangerous rabble-rousers and agitators. Some will be called reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome.
And perhaps our favorite:
-When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
With that, we'll turn this discussion over to our readers. Should Republicans march in parades honoring Dr. King without reconciling their politics with the man they claim to be honoring? What would Dr. King think of, for example, Rep. Coffman's work to roll back federal voting rights law protecting bilingual ballots? Has enough time passed since the civil rights era that Dr. King can now serve as a politically generic feel-good icon for all sides? Have we got it all wrong about Republicans and their legitimate admiration for Dr. King?
Either way, we haven't found the term "Kingwashing" in use elsewhere. We'd like credit if that becomes a thing.
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