Some black conservatives are taking issue with what they see as a liberal twist to the 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington, suggesting the left is being dishonest about the progress made since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28 1963.
“I believe Dr. King would be saddened by the way that some of these leaders are telling Americans that they are victims and their only hope for a better future is a government handout,” Mia Love, the Republican mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, told The Hill
“It does nothing but keep black Americans dependent," she added, suggesting that civil rights activists today have joined with the Democratic Party to push a message that deemphasizes personal responsibility.
Talk show host David Webb blamed those same civil rights activists for helping to fuel racial grievances. He suggested that it had become their "stock-in trade."
"What we’ve seen is people who’ve refused to advance," he told The Hill. "It’s 2013, not the 1960s, but they are still having the 1960s argument. These are the CBC [Congressional Black Caucus], the NAACP, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and all these other civil-rights profiteers.”
"Their stock-in trade is . . . issues that keep them in positions where they need to be, whether it’s for money, power or some combination," he continued.
Republican strategist Ron Christie, who was a special assistant to former President George W. Bush, said he also believes that today's civil rights activists are wrong in how they portray racial progress — at least from a legal perspective.
"I think Martin Luther King’s dream has been fulfilled," he told The Hill. "All men and women in this country are now treated equally. Legal discrimination has been outlawed."
Herman Cain, a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, agreed in part that there has been a lot of progress in closing the racial divide, things that King would have been proud of 50 years later.
But he said the civil rights leader would be saddened to see that the progress is slipping, despite the laws outlawing discrimination, and that racial tensions still exist today.
“We have lost ground, especially black people, on the number of people graduating from high school. We have lost ground, black people, on babies born out of wedlock. We have lost ground, a bit, on racial tension: I don’t think it is as bad as the 50s and 60s but the flames have been fanned by some of the things in the media,” he told The Hill.
Cain also blamed President Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, for not doing enough to heal the divisions. He called his record on race relations in general "lousy."
"There were expectations that he would set the proper tone for race relations in this country. He has not done so. The things that he has been outspoken about have simply created more friction," Cain said.
Artur Davis, a former Democratic congressman turned Republican, agrees that Obama's administration has not "set the proper tone," as Cain put it. But he also blames Republicans for not addressing the real problems of race and argues that his conservative colleagues are wrong to suggest that injustices no longer exist.
"We do have racial inequality, we do have economic inequality that exists in this country," Davis said. "Any strain of rhetoric that seems to deny that inequality exists is destined to fall flat in the black community."
The former Alabama congressman also said Republicans need to do more than just talk about "black outreach," especially now as the nation commemorates the March on Washington.
"There is an illusion that if you go on black radio stations, if you put black faces on TV, if you do your own version of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary, that will make enough of a statement," David told The Hill. "I think most people in the African-American community are not interested in statements, they’re interested in policies."
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