Today is the national holiday celebrating and commemorating the life and leadership of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This has always been a special day and a special weekend for me. As a gay man I used this time away from work to contemplate and reflect on the civil rights era in this country and the power leadership of Dr. King provided to an entire generation. I have tried to learn and be inspired by that struggle and by the tactics and strategies that Dr. King ascribe to in his fight. This weekend I am listening and learning to another King as well.
Let’s not mince words here. Representative Steve King of Iowa is a bigot and a racist. His recent statements defending white supremacy and questioning why it’s so offensive turns my stomach. They are disgusting and repulsive and beg the question how this guy has remained an elected official in this country. Even more sad, King’s comments are only the most recent in a long history and career of professed slavery-era positions and perspectives. He is a national disgrace and a clear indicator that the stain of slavery and the sins of the civil-rights era have yet to be cleansed and washed from the hearts and minds of many Confederate Americans.
We live in two very different countries today. That much is certain. One King wants America to live in the light of equality and freedom and democracy. The other King wants America to live in the darkness of inequality and economic slavery and voter suppression. One King wants us to strive for what America can be while the other King wants us to travel backwards to a time where America was run exclusively by straight, white, men. One King challenges us even today, from the grave, to progress and the future and the ideal. The other seeks to impede, deter, and exclude the cause of equality. I know which America I want to live in.