Cancel Culture Should Apply Evenly to All Historical Figures Regardless of Race, Including MLK Jr.

tear down mlk statue
National Park Service, via Wikimedia Commons

Parades and events commemorating the cherry-picked historical memory of civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr. were canceled this weekend due to the wide-reaching winter weather. The chilly temperatures and deepening snow didn’t stop major political and business leaders from offering the usual platitudes of awe towards the late great orator.

We all seem to share the same dream around the same time of year, a dream where non-white historical figures are deified, and any criticisms or attempts to accurately evaluate the character of the men turned into gods by other men is an exercise in racism. And yet, it has become the norm to apply today’s morality to white historical figures.

White historical figures are rewritten in history books with a focus on their flaws, their monuments torn down from town squares, and the holidays in their honor renamed in an attempt to erase them from our history. However, some believe that the same standard levied on our former white historical heroes should be applied to all of our historical heroes.

The argument

The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh took to X this weekend to discuss the uneven historical lens through which Americans evaluate MLK Jr. versus white historical figures.

He explains:

“Our historical heroes have been torn down. We’ve been told to focus on their sins and shortcomings. Columbus has been labeled a genocidal killer. Jefferson was nothing but a slaveholder, etc.”

He goes on to illustrate what it would be like if the same was applied to a figure like MLK Jr.:

“Well, if this is the standard, then we have to talk about the fact that MLK was a communist, a plagiarist, an adulterer, an abuser, allegedly a rapist, and more.”

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Part of what Mr. Walsh alludes to is the revelations discovered by biographer David Garrow in 2019. Mr. Garrow wrote after combing through then-newly released FBI documents that the surveillance of the civil rights leader uncovered a side of the pedestalled man most would prefer to ignore.

Mr. Garrow wrote:

“They expose in graphic detail the FBI’s intense focus on King’s extensive extramarital sexual relationships with dozens of women, and also his presence in a Washington hotel room when a friend, a Baptist minister, allegedly raped one of his “parishioners,” while King “looked on, laughed and offered advice.'”

This information may be brand new for many of you because mainstream media chose not to focus on this news. After all, while tearing down historical giants has become its own educational discipline, to do so of a non-white giant is a sin in and of itself.

Equally criticized

Matt Walsh wrote on X that the slight increase in criticism of MLK Jr. is a product of what the progressive left started. He wrote:

“I know a lot of you want to play by a rule that says every white historical figure must be re-assessed while every non-white historical figure remains canonized.”

Unfortunately for the liberals, Pandora’s Box has been opened. Because of that, as Mr. Walsh writes, there is as there always should’ve been:

“One standard and one standard only.”

This concept shouldn’t be a new one, and the irony that it’s being debated about a man who opined on the need for equal treatment for all men is laughable. Back in 2019, after the revelations that MLK Jr. was not only a flawed man – as all men are – but could have participated in sinful, illegal, awful behavior, Mr. Walsh wrote that society should:

“Rather than canonize our heroes on one hand, or demonize them on the other, we can humanize them.”

Christopher Columbus was no saint, Thomas Jefferson had the same temptations for sin as the next man, and Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a flawed man. These are multi-dimensional men who were sinful in varying degrees and not immune to the societal and cultural proclivities of their time.

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History matters

It’s not just conservative commentators who would prefer Americans recognize that MLK Jr. had more to him than his “I Have a Dream” speech. Princeton professor Cornel West lamented the “Santa Clausification” of MLK Jr, claiming that forgetting he was an outspoken anti-war activist and very political in his speeches takes away from who he was for the civil rights movement and the country.

Liberal commentator Mehdi Hasan urged Americans to:

“…let’s remember Dr. King as the outspoken leftist, socialist, & antiwar activist that he really was…”

What a great idea. Unfortunately, Mr. West and Mr. Hasan don’t want Americans to remember Dr. King additionally as the adulterer that he really was.

Do I believe MLK Jr. monuments should be taken down, that streets and schools should be renamed, or that young Americans should focus on the man’s sins over his contributions to American society? Of course not.

Americans would be well served to stop morphing historical figures into Gods and Demons and keep them as members of humanity. To do so is to really appreciate the greatness they achieved and acknowledge the persistent struggle against the temptations of sin that all of God’s creatures have.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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