Caucasian sentiment on Martin Luther King's Death? - Politics | PoFo

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Was watching Mad Men (I know it's a fictional show) and how the writers presented reaction in New York particularly of Caucasians about the assassination. From an extremely liberal viewpoint it was shown that most "white" characters were deeply shaken, some to the point of tears.

There are many liberties taken with dramatic representation of the past by the largely liberal media outlets in the United States, especially with Barrack Obama in office. However I was annoyed at how baseless the representation was. Even Liberals at the time were not deeply wounded but more disappointed. I am sure most were neutral on the issue, especially those in largely white populated regions.

Anyone want to chime in from elder recollections? Talking to older individuals living in Canada at the time, the sentiment seems to be along the lines of racial tensions being heated up. I will point out that black riots seemed to be a hell of a lot more vicious than any white rioting in the 50s-70s. In many instances, large groups of blacks would break into black-owned shops and loot. It seems counter-productive to just cave in emotionally like that. But then I do not pretend to know too much about American history on the time period unless it's about international politics.

Plainly put, what do you believe to have been the majority opinion of Caucasians living in the United States at the time on the issue?
Even Liberals at the time were not deeply wounded but more disappointed. I am sure most were neutral on the issue, especially those in largely white populated regions.
On what do you base this? The reactions of contemporary Canadians is a poor metric, as the racial demographics and politics of Canada and the United States are vastly different, plus MLK's work was more immediately relevant to Americans.
My maternal grandfather (American born, 1000% New Deal/Great Society Democrat) cried when MLK was assassinated. I think politically-minded liberal whites were pretty shaken up by it, especially given its proximity to the assassinations of JFK and RFK.
White liberals could embrace MLK Jr. emotionally because he was a Ghandi-type figure with his adherence to nonviolence. Now, Malcolm X on the other hand, is another story. Where were the white liberals crying on TV when he was assassinated?

An FBI cointelpro memo on the civil rights movement actually covered this. Their goal was to, "Prevent the RISE OF A "MESSIAH" who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a "messiah;" he is the martyr of the movement today. Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammed all aspire to this position. Elijah Muhammed is less of a threat because of his age. King could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed "obedience" to "white, liberal doctrines" (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. Carmichael has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way." ... K/mlk.html
It's unclear if JFK's civil rights agenda was enthusiastically supported by white Americans at the time and President Eisenhower had to deploy state troops to a high school in Little Rock to break up white protesters and impose the 1954 Supreme Court ruling called Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Washington was clearly way ahead of the general public's views on the issue and the Kennedy administration had to keep pace with the process of decolonisation overseas by doing away with America's own colonial laws as Washington kept dismantling European colonies in Asia and Africa in the 1950s and 60s. JFK rather reluctantly supported MLK when he made a phone call to secure his release from prison, which shifted support of black voters in northern states to the Kennedy side and away from Richard Nixon, but the Democrats ended up losing the Solid South which they had counted on for so long.

JFK and MLK shared an era and a cause, but they were not close allies, as the tone of these remarks makes clear. They admired each other’s best qualities but were suspicious of the other’s flaws. On civil rights, they marched to different cadences. Early in his administration, President Kennedy did not want to be seen as too eager to press for such moves as equal housing and voting protection for minorities, even though he saw such changes as inevitable. King was not invited to his inauguration or to an initial meeting of civil rights figures in the Oval Office. King and other leaders did not think the new White House was doing all it could. Freedom Riders intent on ending segregation in interstate transportation spread through the South and began to force Kennedy’s hand. In May of 1961, Bobby Kennedy personally directed the deployment of federal marshals to protect King in a dangerous situation in Montgomery, Ala., where the civil rights leader had gone to preach to Freedom Rider supporters in Ralph Abernathy’s First Baptist Church. White moderates had counseled African-Americans to remain patient for years; they were tired of waiting. In July 1962, King publicly urged the president to do more “in the area of moral persuasion by occasionally speaking out against segregation.”
The FBI were plainly happy that he died, seeing as how they tried to get him to commit suicide anyway.

In death, there was a push to make sure he wasn't a martyr by making him, "a Ghandi-type figure," and strip him of anything remotely revolutionary so that he could fit snuggly in central political thought, and today, be reimagined as a right-wing reactionary that would (for some reason) violently oppose his disciples that all worked with him. He was, so the National Review typical of many very conservative elements say:

The National Review wrote:Too many conservatives and libertarians, including the editors of this magazine, missed all of this at the time. They worried about the effects of the civil-rights movement on federalism and limited government. Those principles weren’t wrong, exactly; they were tragically misapplied, given the moral and historical context. It is a mark of the success of King’s movement that almost all Americans can now see its necessity.

Another mark is the decrepitude of today’s civil-rights movement. The evils the movement fought — state-sponsored segregation, pervasive racial discrimination — have been vanquished. In their place are evils that are, alas, less amenable to marches. And so King’s heirs flail about. Where he spoke of a “bank of justice,” they just trade in grievances. Today Al Sharpton, whose chief political success has been to foment enough racial hatred to yield arson and murder, can present himself as a civil-rights leader without much fear of contradiction. We will have to look elsewhere for answers to the evils that now afflict Americans, and especially blacks: lousy schools, a thriving drug trade and a misguided governmental response, the collapse of marriage.

On anniversaries like this one, left-wingers sometimes lament that King is not remembered in full. They say that he was hostile to capitalism and to the Vietnam War. It is a historically accurate point, and it is a historically irrelevant point. King is a national hero because of the American ideals he championed and brought much closer to realization. It is the march of those ideals that we commemorate this week.

Which is essentially saying, "A lot of reactionaries, like us, were worried about what civil-rights might do to white privilege. His actual program was never implemented, so I guess things are fine. His colleagues that are still alive are dangerous lunatics that must be stopped. Sure history may be against us, but that doesn't actually matter because we won anyway. And that's why we remember Martin Luther King so fondly on the right!"

And what were these things never implemented that the right feels they can try to celebrate?

1. A national program that would make employment a right of every American, meaning the federal government would employ every unemployed person.
2. He was opposed to capitalism (though as a social democrat instead of a Leninist).

MLK wrote:I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. And yet I am not so opposed to capitalism that I have failed to see its relative merits. It started out with a noble and high motive, viz., to block the trade monopolies of nobles, but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has out-lived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. So I think Bellamy is right in seeing the gradual decline of capitalism.

I think you noticed that Bellamy emphasized that the change would be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. This, it seems to me, is the most sane and ethical way for social change to take place.

MLK wrote:[In opposition to the bills passed before and in beginning a campaign for, "a redistribution of economic power"[ We are now making demands that will cost the nation something. You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't raalk about ending slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk them. You are messing with the captains of industry...New this means that we are treading in difficult wanters, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong...with capitalism...They must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism.

3. Even though he was a minister, he was an ardent advocate of Planned Parenthood, serving on one of its committees, and was an advocate of "family planning."

Awards in his life received by Planned Parenthood. The acceptance speech in the link is a stinging rebuttal to conservative attempts to try and rewrite reality so Planned Parenthood is somehow creating a black genocide.

And there are other things that have been revised to try and make MLK fit into one form of contemporary thought or another. So to get back to the OP, what did whites think at the time in the US, it depended on the age, region, and place.

My grandparents were saddened. While they had nothing against blacks per se, my grandmother especially voted upon ethnic lines. She would only vote for someone that was Irish and wouldn't do so for someone that was German, Indian, British, Black, whatever. My grandfathers and other grandmother would have voted straight down the Democratic ticket as good Northern New Dealers. As immigrants themselves, they were upset by injustice and sympathized with MLK in the main. Perhaps more than anything, they very much disliked the movements opposed to King. Further, losing Kennedy just before (especially my Irish grandparents) underlined the unfairness of it all and made them sympathize with him.

Northerners younger than my grandparents, and my own (much younger) parents had a lot more sympathy for King. The South was pushing laws and a culture long since past its prime because of political institutions and compromises made. By the time King was out there, virtually everyone my parents' age already agreed with him that there needed to be a lot of reform for some of that stuff. It is roughly comparable to how young people feel about sodomy. Hetrosexual people do it, homosexual people do it, or you don't have to do it, and it's no big deal. Whereas my grandparents would have found sodomy, of any kind, such an affront to nature that they wouldn't even be able to understand what you were talking about. I know this as my grandmother asked my mother, apparently, what sodomy was and she couldn't grasp it at all.

So far as Mad Men, a bunch of wealthy youngish people in New York would have been sympathetic to Martin Luther King. Older ones, I feel confident in saying, would have not liked that someone was going around the country with a rifle and shooting people. It would be different in the South and maybe other rural areas.
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