Cheapening Coretta Scott King’s Legacy

IF LAURA INGRAHAM WRITES A FOLLOW-UP BOOK, IT SHOULD BE TITLED, SHUT UP AND MOURN! Yesterday, the Left again chose division over reconciliation, bitterness over harmony, and the transient over the transcendent at the funeral of Coretta Scott King. For the third time in as many years, leftists politicized a funeral service. And the most outspoken partisans present were a failed former president and a man who once bestowed an award on Muammar Qaddafi.

President Bush, as ever, maintained his dignity and demeanor. He honored Coretta Scott King at the opening of his State of the Union Address and spoke eloquently of her contributions to the nation at her memorial service at Atlanta’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church yesterday. “I’ve come today to offer the sympathy of our entire nation at the passing of a woman who worked to make our nation whole,” Bush said of a woman he could be sure never voted for him and disagreed with much of his political platform. Bush’s inherent sense of decency contrasted sharply with some of those with whom he shared the pulpit.

Rev. Joseph Lowery, a founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), used the occasion of his longtime friend’s death to lash out at President Bush, who was seated immediately behind him:

[Coretta Scott King] deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. We know now that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction over there. But Coretta knew, and we know, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor!

After the good reverend finished equating U.S. troops with terrorists – a section that drew a two-minute-long standing ovation at a funeral Jimmy Carter tried his hand at it. Crying crocodile tears, Carter said everyday life became “difficult for them then personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretaps.” That, too, drew applause. (Later, the same crowd heartily cheered Ted Kennedy, whose brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, approved the secret government wiretapping that made the Kings’ lives so “difficult.”)

Carter then targeted the president’s foreign policy: “We do not have a monopoly on the hunger for democracy and freedom. [The Kings] overcame one of the greatest challenges of life, to wage a fierce struggle for freedom and justice and to do it peacefully.” Apparently the Bushes had seen what happened to those who held sit-ins in downtown Baghdad.

Even obscure Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin decried “the senselessness of war…from the tintop roofs of Soweto to the bomb shelters of Baghdad.”

Moreover, yesterday’s partisan hatefest was actually day two of Left’s political exploitation of the civil rights legend. Fox News reports:

At a service Monday night, the Revs. [Jesse] Jackson and Al Sharpton galvanized the crowd with fiery speeches that blasted the government and public figures for trying to make the King legacy their own while doing nothing for world peace or poor black Americans.

Jesse Jackson also attacked Bush in his syndicated column this week.

The nation expects inappropriate, bomb-throwing partisanship from Jackson and Al Sharpton. And it has become accustomed to Jimmy Carter’s unprecedented political interference. Less is known, however, about Rev. Joseph Lowery, except that the media described him as “a civil rights pioneer.” There is, however, more to the story.

Muammar’s (Second) Favorite Minister

In addition to co-founding the SCLC with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s, Rev. Joseph Lowery served as that organization’s president for two decades (1977-97).

Shortly after assuming leadership of the organization, Lowery chose to embrace two of the world’s foremost terrorists: Yasser Arafat and Muammar Qaddafi. In September 1979, Lowery, NAACP President Benjamin Hooks, and future NAACP President Julian Bond went on a whirlwind trip of the Muslim Street. As part of their festivities, the trio bestowed Libya’s terrorist-in-chief with “The Decoration of Martin Luther King.” Lowery also met with Yasser Arafat in Lebanon. When an American interviewer asked Lowery, “Do you accept the popular image of the PLO as a bunch of terrorists?” he responded in pre-Clinton fashion:

Well, that depends on how you define terrorists…I don’t mind calling them terrorists. I don’t mind because I also call Begin a terrorist…the PLO is not just a bunch of terrorists.

Responding to backlash from Jewish members of the civil rights community, he called on Jews to engage in a “less paternalistic relationship” with blacks. “We didn’t need the Jewish community, the State Department, or even President Carter to give us permission” to buss Muslim genocidalists. Asked “What do you think motivates U.S. policy on the Mideast?” he responded, “The administration is responding to a very strong Jewish lobby.”

In 1988, when he tried to encourage blacks to frequent black-owned banks, he remarked, “Nobody says the Jews are boycotting when they support their institutions.” Lowery also supported Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March and the Millions More March.

The conspiratorial mindset came to define Lowery. He still maintains the government that sanctifies a day in honor of MLK may have covertly ordered his hit. Ten years ago, he told a press conference, “We have never stopped believing for a moment that there was some government complicity in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” At the same conference, Lowery claimed the CIA was selling cocaine in black neighborhoods. “This is a new and worse form of slavery: chemical warfare in the form of drugs. Its worse than anything Saddam Hussein has done.”

Lowery was particularly enamored of the theories of Celerino Castillo III, whose ravings have since been discredited. In 1997, the Clinton Justice Department found Castillo’s “broad inferences…were unsupported by the evidence.”

In part, Lowery’s support for Central American Marxists stems from his belief that the CIA helped Contras hook black babies on crack; in part it is from his virulent leftism. At the height of Ronald Reagan’s Cold War struggle against Communist infiltration of Central America, Lowery declared the United States had “become the villain of the Western Hemisphere.”

Time has only caused his leftist fervor to grow. Lowery slammed the U.S. in 2001 for not attending the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, where Jewish delegates were physically assaulted. Lowery called our response “a shameful cop-out.”

Rev. Lowery lent his support to Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-GA, even after she hinted President Bush had advance knowledge of 9/11 and solicited Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for $10 million. In his campaign support, he again joined forces with Louis Farrakhan.

In April 2004, the SCLC sued Lowery for not getting board approval before leasing SCLC property to his wife’s organization (SCLC WOMEN) ten years earlier for $1 a year. The suit also alleged Mrs. Lowery did not ask permission to use the term “SCLC” for her own group. The SCLC dropped the suit last February, not because it was frivolous, but because it wanted to move past “infighting.”

Since then, the far-leftist minister has taken to calling himself “neither Democrat nor Republican, but Methodist”; however, he has regularly excoriated his denomination as insufficiently radical. He called the UMC’s respect for the separation of church and state “The Silence of the Lambs” – a silence he broke at the United Methodist 2004 General Conference in Pittsbugh. Lowery compared Bush to George Wallace, asserted “these judges appointed by Reagan and Bush” were carrying out “resegregation,” and claimed blacks were disenfranchised in the 2000 election when President Bush was “selected” president. He also blasted his denomination, affixing his name to a petition calling his church’s position on homosexuality “spiritual violence.” (The UMC does not allow any ordained minister – heterosexual or homosexual – to openly have sex outside marriage.) He has also bewailed black opposition to same-sex marriage. “Don’t ever let the Constitution be used to take away rights,” he thundered. “You can’t say you’re for equal rights and then make an exception.”

In the last year, he has experienced a political far-Left resurgence. Last February, he teamed up with Farrakhan, Sharpton, Jackson, Joycelyn Elders, Cornel West, Julianne Malveaux, Michael Eric Dyson, and Donna Brazile at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (yes, the same New Birth Missionary Baptist Church) to draft a “Covenant with Black America.” He has repeatedly stated society has a “responsibility…to have Affirmative Action.” and has called for a moratorium on all executions in Georgia. Last May, he signed a call from the left-wing National Council of Churches opposing the “nuclear option” in the name of God.

Three months later, he discovered another divine prophet: Cindy Sheehan. Lowery said: “I think that God has worked through this mother…God is speaking to us through this movement by the mothers.” He echoed her divinely revealed plan for unilateral surrender in Iraq. “It’s time to bring the troops home,” he said. “We call upon Congress to demand that the administration present a plan to withdraw the troops, and if they don’t, that we cut off funding.” He also honed his “no WMD” routine:

Fifty million people in this country with no health insurance. That’s a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Minimum wage is a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Despite Sheehan’s radical excesses – mostly recently being arrested for disrupting the State of the Union Address – Lowery has maintained a tight ideological kinship with the extremist. He will take part in the “Another World is Possible” march on April Fool’s Day in Atlanta – a march echoing the socialist mantra. He will speak at this march with Representatives Cynthia McKinney and John Conyers. Such far-Left figures and organizations as Ramsey Clark, Cindy Sheehan, Damu Smith, Refuse & Resist!, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, and The World Can’t Wait have also endorsed the march.

This far-Left background was not reported, even as the mainstream media broadcast the words of this “civil right pioneer” around the world.

Don’t Forget Jimmuh

Jimmy Carter also predictably took at stab at his successor – as he had every successor more competent than himself (which is all of them). The mostly black crowd repeatedly applauded Carter, despite the fact that – unlike Bush – Carter campaigned for governor as a self-proclaimed “redneck,” pledged to invited George Wallace to address the Peach State legislature, and presided over a campaign that distributed a photo of a political opponent being embraced by black basketball players to a Ku Klux Klan rally. Also forgotten was Carter’s statement that he was “proud” to have arch-segregationist Lester Maddox as his lieutenant governor in 1970, calling him “the essence of the Democratic Party.” The same Lester Maddox who refused to attend the funeral Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Demeaning the Dead

Yesterday’s spectacle is perhaps the Left’s most disturbing recurring motif in recent times: profaning the sacred, specifically the dead. Democratic Party hacks turned Paul Wellstone’s memorial service on October 29, 2002, into a raucous political rally for Walter Mondale. Ron Reagan Jr. – who historically had a strained relationship with his father – cheapened his Republican father’s funeral by taking a shot at George W. Bush, saying his father “never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians: wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage…he accepted [his presidency] as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference.” One wag replied by saying, “Reagan wore his religion on his sleeve all the time!” Still, every conservative resisted the temptation to urge the election year mourners to “win one for the Gipper.” The Left knows nothing of this restraint (nor, observing their views on the sexual revolution and drug use, of any other kind of restraint).

This tendency to exploit the dead reached its nadir with Cindy Sheehan. Conversely, leftist hatemongers like Ted Rall exult in belittling the dead, as he viciously attacked the late Pat Tillman and Ronald Reagan.

Perhaps the American people should expect no less from the Left and its partisans in the Secular Party. They hold the politics of bad faith: the belief in a messianic state erected by their political action, where prayer is replaced with jingoism and good works with get-out-the-vote drives. This false gospel has few takers in the American heartland, where voters are beginning to realize their estrangement from the radical fringe that holds the Left captive. Nothing could more clearly drive this message home than the crass polemical exploitation of a solemn requiem for a deceased hero on national television.