U.S. Rep Allen West, R-Fla., apparently believes that he understands Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. better than the civil rights leader's own daughter.
During an interview with the conservative media outlet Newsmax on Tuesday night, West was extremely critical of the Occupy Wall Street protesters -- like many conservatives, he could not resist mentioning that both the American Nazi Party and American Communist Party have supposedly endorsed it, implying that supporters align themselves with those groups -- and disputed President Barack Obama's remark that King would have supported the 99 percent movement.
West, who is African-American, argued that because he and King were both born and raised in Memphis, Tenn. he had insight into what King would have supported.
Martin Luther King Jr. would not have backed these types of protesters. He had a focus, a message. He was divinely inspired. I don't know what the inspiration is for these individuals, he said.
King Emphasized Justice, Occupy Wall Street Emphasizes Justice
It seems as though the inspiration for those individuals is similar to what inspired King himself. King repeatedly advocated economic justice; in 1968, he and the Southern Leadership Christian Conference organized the Poor People's Campaign to address issues of economic inequality, which he called the second phase of the nation's civil rights struggle. The movement culminated in a march on Washington, D.C. a month after King's assassination on April 4 of that year.
The main goals of the Poor People's Campaign were to secure jobs, a livable income and housing for all economic classes and races. The movement also lobbied Congress for the enactment of an Economic Bill of Rights that asked the federal government to prioritize assisting the nation's poor by implementing a $30 billion anti-poverty package -- or $195.6 billion in 2011 dollars -- that included measures to guarantee full employment and an increase in low-income housing.
Does any of that sound familiar? Because, it certainly sounds like policies that the Occupy Wall Street movement (not the fringe groups that have endorsed it) has made a central part of its platform. These two protest movements, divided by more than 40 years, have the same demands.
King's Daughter: Dad Would Have Supported Occupy Wall Street
Let's not also forget the fact that King's own daughter, Rev. Bernice King, said her father would support the 99 percent movement during the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C., only two days before Wests' Newsmax interview.
I hear my father saying what we are seeing now all across the streets of America and the world is a freedom explosion, she said, referring to Occupy Wall Street and similar protests occurring internationally.
Doesn't a freedom explosion sound like something the GOP would actually celebrate?
However, West told Newsmax that the protesters' demands are contradictory to the foundational principles and values that we have in the United States.
I have news for West. Slavery -- and as a result, racism -- was a principle built into the constitution, which states slaves (and we know most of them were African) should be counted as three-fifths of a person.
King thought there was something wrong with that. He believed that human beings should not be discriminated against or lack opportunities for advancement because of their race or income bracket, and he took to the streets to make his point.
King, according to West, was divinely inspired, even though a protest movement stemming from principles King actively fought for are laughable. Something about that does not make sense.