Friday, August 18, 2017

Under the Guise of ‘Gun Control,’ a Call to Trash the First Amendment

Gun violence spurs need to amend Constitution, writes economist/author Alan L. Moss, “a congressional fellow to the late Democratic U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg.”

After reciting a litany of statistics on gun-related deaths intended to horrify, Moss calls for the Second Amendment to be revised to allow reasonable gun restrictions. I don’t know that the Second Amendment needs to be revised. There are already plenty of restrictions on gun ownership, such as licensing and permitting.

No one would argue with Moss that guns should be kept out of the hands of “a desperate heroin addict, gang member, terrorist, or mentally deranged individual.” But the “devil is in the details”: How do we define “reasonable?” “Gun control” to the Left is what “Voter ID” was to the racist—a cover for abrogating rights. Just as the Southern racists once used onerous voter ID laws to effectively prevent black Americans from voting, so Leftists view gun control as a means of effectively banning guns through onerous regulations.

That’s not the worst of it. Moss blames the lack of gun control on First Amendment rights:

Second, a new amendment must be established to alter our systems of campaign financing and lobbying. For example, campaign funds could be limited to allocations provided by the federal government; lobbyists could be required to be housed in the government relations departments of individual firms; and influence peddlers could be banned from wandering the halls of government.

Under this Amendment, private citizens would be banned from voluntarily contributing to political campaigns of their choice, but would be forced to fund, through their taxes, political campaigns against their consciences and against their will. He would then overturn the First Amendment guarantee of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” What is a lobbyist but a peaceable assembly of the people? What is “influence-peddling” but a petition of the government?

Moss wants to insulate the political class from the people they represent. Apparently, we’re just subjects to be reigned in so as not to bother the people who wield so much law-making power over us. The problem as Moss see it is that the people are too persuasive, so the government must silence them:

[T]he American systems of campaign financing and lobbying on behalf of the National Rifle Association, representing some gun owners and those who profit from gun sales, convince legislators to reject the public outcry for gun control in favor of campaign contributions and other support for election.

This is the same public that elects the legislators that are being convinced. The people have the power to vote these legislators out of office. That they don’t is proof that the “public outcry” to enact the Left’s anti-gun agenda is not so loud, so the Left seeks to silence the opposition. And it’s not just about gun control:

In fact, the U.S. systems of campaign funding and lobbying are embarrassments with which few advanced democracies contend. When I was writing my book, Selling-Out America’s Democracy, I interviewed foreign diplomats who uniformly voiced their amazement at how we allow special interests to distort the policies favored by the great majority of our citizens.

While the absence of gun control is perhaps the most extreme case of a perverted U.S. policy to be set right, reining in lobbyists and campaign financing could correct ill-considered decisions in other high priority areas, including our out-of-date minimum wage, worsening global warming, and exorbitant health care costs.

Maybe the “great majority of our citizens” don’t want the Left’s big government-expanding, including the rights-restricting expansion of political control over our jobs, energy, and healthcare.

Guns and free speech are not analogous. Guns are instruments of physical force so their possession by private citizens must be subject to oversight by the government. But free speech is the instrument of expression. Lobbying, campaign funding, and other efforts to influence legislators, legislation, and election outcomes are forms of expression.

Statists would love to restrict the people’s free speech rights so statist legislators could go on their merry taxing, spending, regulating, and controlling way without having to bother with those pesky constituents. They’d love to smother the dissemination of competing ideas, stifle public debate, frame the public dialogue, and control the process of selecting candidates who challenge the incumbents. Under the guise of ‘gun control,’ Moss calls to trash the First Amendment. We shouldn’t let the statists get away with their sinister efforts.

Related Reading:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Only Antidote to Racist Violence and Conflict is Individualism

[Some are blaming "politics." Wrote Claire Galofaro for the Associated Press, “Historians and political scientists have been warning that American politics had become a pressure cooker, full of racial tension building once again to the point of a deadly clash, like the one in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday that claimed three lives.”

But the causes are much deeper, rooted in philosophy. In light of the recent racist violence in Charlotesville, Virginia, I thought I'd repost an article I published last November with the title, The ‘Alt-Right’: The New Left’s Chickens Homecoming. The message remains the same.]

Is Donald Trump, wittingly or not, raising the profile and influence of the so-called alt-Right?

In Trump disavows Nazis, saves them a seat at the table, the New Jersey Star-Ledger chastised president-elect Donald Trump for not disavowing the so-called “alt-Right” movement strongly enough. Trump’s selection of Steve Bannon as his chief strategist and senior advisor, the Star-Ledger believes, gives legitimacy to the alt-Right and its racist views.

I only recently heard about the alt-Right. From what I know about it, the alt-Right—which is not really on the Right, properly understood as standing for individualism—is racist, as well as nationalistic and collectivistic.

(I don’t yet know much about Bannon, so I can’t comment on his alleged ties to the alt-Right. I can, however, point the reader to an excellent column by PJ Media's Walter Hudson, who wrote,

The problem with Steve Bannon is not his personal views, for which there seems to be little evidence of anything egregious. The problem with Steve Bannon is the role he has played in proliferating the abhorrent views of others. While in charge of Breitbart News, Bannon transformed it into a haven for the alt-right.

Hudson believes that “Trump should go out of his way to condemn the alt-right,” and that “That declaration should be echoed by a repentant Bannon, or Bannon should be fired.”)

In any event, the alt-Right seems largely a reaction to the more subtle and more insidious racism of the Left—more insidious because the Left's racism is more highbrow, and being smuggled in under cover of “good intentions.” The Star-Ledger  writes;

Our president-elect seems vague about such approbation, as he is unaware that he has empowered white nationalists, emboldened neo-Nazis, and inspired the KKK to reemerge from beneath its rock: "I want to look into it and find out why," he said.

He can skip the inquiry. It's happening because his incendiary rhetoric still echoes. It's happening because he has conveyed his approval by appointing Steve Bannon as his chief strategist – the same Bannon who calls Breitbart "the platform for the alt-right." It's happening because they have tacit permission to express their retrograde impulses.

The Star-Ledger writes here that “It's happening because they have tacit permission to express their retrograde impulses.” But the fuller unabridged statement in the print edition reads “Its happening because diversity is a dirty word to these ‘patriots,’ and they have tacit permission to express their retrograde impulses.”

The Left’s concept of “diversity” is racial identity politics, not diversity in the only way it matters, in the content of individual character. In other words, race—not ideas, choices, values, moral character, and the like—is the defining characteristic.

When you identify people by race, and then divide people by that standard, what do you expect to happen—especially when you go out of your way to marginalize one of the races, white people? You encourage racism and other forms of group identity politics; e.g., the alt-Right’s white separatism. The alt-Right is the New Left’s chickens coming home to roost, and all decent people suffer for it.

For the rise of the alt-Right, we have the New Left and their “diversity” crusaders to thank. When you “set the table” for racist tribalism, you get racist tribalism. The alt-Right and the New Left are not opposites. They are two sides of the same coin. The New Left divides people by race, based on the postmodernist premise that different races are genetically predisposed to their own unique ideas and perspectives. The alt-Right also divides people by race, based on things such as genetically informed average racial group intelligence, as measured by things like IQ testing. The two are blood brothers: Both are both collectivist and anti-individualist; both are hostile to free markets and capitalism; both in essence reject free will; both are hostile to American culture.

Racism is a specie of collectivism. The Left is fundamentally collectivist, an ideology that, not surprisingly, it also shares with the alt-Right. Collectivism holds the group as the standard of moral value and judgement—and the easiest group to identify the individual with is his racial group or heritage. The only alternative to racism, both Left and alt-Right, is individualism, the antipode of collectivism and the heart and soul of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Individualism is the defining characteristic of American culture—a culture that both the New Left and the alt-Right stand in fundamental opposition to.

Related Reading:

The Founding Fathers, Not ‘Diversity,’ is the Solution to ‘Our Racialized Society’

Monday, August 14, 2017

Roger McNamee’s Attack on Intellectual Freedom

In a recent op-ed, investment guru Roger McNamee lamented that I invested early in Google and Facebook and regret it. I helped create a monster. Does his regret relate to poor stock performance of these companies? No. They performed spectacularly. For McNamee, it’s ideological:

I invested in Google and Facebook years before their first revenue and profited enormously. I was an early adviser to Facebook’s team, but I am terrified by the damage being done by these Internet monopolies.

First of all, Google and Facebook are not monopolies. Properly understood, a monopoly is a privileged company or industry legally protected from competition. These companies are not monopolies in any sense of the term.

Facebook and Google get their revenue from advertising, the effectiveness of which depends on gaining and maintaining consumer attention. Borrowing techniques from the gambling industry, Facebook, Google and others exploit human nature, creating addictive behaviors that compel consumers to check for new messages, respond to notifications, and seek validation from technologies whose only goal is to generate profits for their owners.

Get it? We consumers are just helpless, mindless robots ready to be programmed by addiction peddlers Facebook and Google. But where’s the “compulsion” in “compel consumers?” You won’t find it. McNamee continues:

The people at Facebook and Google believe that giving consumers more of what they want and like is worthy of praise, not criticism. What they fail to recognize is that their products are not making consumers happier or more successful. Like gambling, nicotine, alcohol or heroin, Facebook and Google — most importantly through its YouTube subsidiary — produce short-term happiness with serious negative consequences in the long term. Users fail to recognize the warning signs of addiction until it is too late.  

Get it? We consumers are a faceless, indistinguishable herd without reason, values, or free will—except for McNamee, who knows we all unhappily and unsuccessfully exploit Facebook’s and Google’s products. We just don’t know what’s good for us. But McNamee knows. This reminds me of George W. Bush’s description of our use of fossil fuel energy as an “addiction.” Both McNamee and Bush tar great, life-serving industries by placing them in the same category as heroin.

But McNamee’s attack is far more dangerous than Bush’s, serious as that is. Whereas Bush deals with companies that serve the marketplace for goods, McNamee tarnishes an industry that serves the marketplace for intellectual content. It was inevitable that, once we accepted government control of the marketplace of goods, the government’s regulatory powers would be extended to the marketplace for ideas—the bulwark of government accountability and a free society. McNamee gives that threat another push toward reality.

I don’t buy for a minute the addiction ruse. What, then, is really behind McNamee’s attack on Google and Facebook?

Technology has transformed our lives in countless ways, mostly for the better. Thanks to the now ubiquitous smartphone, tech touches us from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep. While the convenience of smartphones has many benefits, the unintended consequences of well-intentioned product choices have become a menace to public health and to democracy. [emphasis added]

Forget “public health.” that’s an abstraction—and a distraction. Health is individual. So is addiction, whether physical or psychological. These alleged  “addictions” McNamee frets over, such as they are actually real, are a problem for doctors, not the “public” or the government. What’s really eating at McNamee is that he doesn’t like the way people are voting. On CNBC, he laments the Brexit and the 2016 U.S. election results as symptoms of these “addictions.”

Would McNamee have written this column if Brexit had failed and Hillary Clinton had won? Those election results are not a menace to democracy. They’re a menace to McNamee’s political opinions. He obviously doesn't like the free flow of information and ideas that Google, Facebook, and the internet fosters, if the voters agree with the “wrong” ideas. McNamee’s “addiction” problem is like the Left’s post-election attack on “fake news,” which fostered calls for controls on the internet. McNamee’s attack is dangerous because he strongly, albeit implicitly, calls for government regulation:

Incentives being what they are, we cannot expect Internet monopolies to police themselves. There is little government regulation and no appetite to change that. If we want to stop brain hacking, consumers will have to force changes at Facebook and Google.

This is right out of Steve Bannon’s playbook. Bannon calls for regulation of Facebook and Google as public utilities—which means, government control.

I don’t know if McNamee realizes how much like Donald Trump he sounds in bashing Facebook and Google with phrases like “brain hacking.” But one thing is certain: The only monopoly we have to fear is the government because of its legal monopoly on physical force. The government is the only institution that can compel compliance at gunpoint, either directly or by threat of throwing you in a cage. This is why governments should be constitutionally restricted to protecting individual rights. It should not be involved in regulating either the marketplace for goods or the marketplace for ideas.

Neither Google nor Facebook can compel anyone by force—and consumers can’t force Google and Facebook. McNamee wants to substitute government force for private voluntarism in the marketplace of ideas, giving government the power to determine what constitutes “misinformation” and enforcing its determination by regulation—which of course means, by force. There isn’t an aspiring American dictator who wouldn’t relish such an power. McNamee apparently believes that private individuals and their companies that cannot force you are a menace, but a government that can legally force you is not. This is a dangerous inversion of priorities for any free society, but a particularly dangerous inversion when directed at the intellectual freedom of a society. Today it will be information spread through social media. Tomorrow?  If the kind of power over individual behavior that McNamee asserts Google and Facebook have is a danger, then that power in the hands of government is untold orders of magnitude more dangerous. You can escape the clutches of Google simply by saying “no”—or using your own free speech rights to refute what you believe constitutes “misinformation.” Try escaping the legal clutches of government. You’ll be thrown into a cage.

And if such sinister power to allegedly “compel consumers” in the hands of private companies like Google and Facebook, which don’t have the power of physical compulsion, is a menace to public health and to democracy, imagine the menace when such power is placed in the hands of government officials, which do have that physical power? History records the devastating answer.

When confronted by proposals from the likes of Roger McNamee and Steve Bannon for government regulation to protect us from our own free choices offered to us by those “evil” private companies, the age-old question once again resurfaces: Who will protect us from our protectors? We must recognize McNamee’s and others’ attack on “internet monopolies” for what they are—calls for government censorship and an attack on intellectual freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment—and reject them without reservation.

Related Reading:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The ‘Never Before’ Syndrome

When it comes to weather, most people have the memory of a goldfish. Dramatic pronouncements of “unprecedented” are routine whenever unusually extreme weather happens somewhere. There always seems to be another “never happened before” weather event lurking just around the corner. This is particularly true in today’s era of climate catastrophism. The Never Before syndrome is a handy propaganda tool for those hyping the myth of ever-worsening weather extremes caused by climate change.

Last September, Tropical Storm and former Hurricane Hermine threatened New Jersey. In Why Hermine could be such a 'freak show' of a storm for N.J., Stephen Stirling reported,

We've never seen anything quite like Hermine.

There's Sandy, of course, but that storm barreled into the coast with reckless abandon. There's Irene or Floyd, but those zipped through New Jersey leaving a greater mess inland than on the coast. Even the hybrid-hurricane monster known as the "Perfect Storm" back in 1991 doesn't quite fit -- it occurred two months later in the year, when ocean temperatures were not nearly as warm.

Hermine stands on its own because forecasters know things could be dire, but we really don't know how bad they could get.

"This is a tough analogue to find," said David Robinson, the state climatologist at Rutgers University. "It may become tropical again, but it won't have a classic hurricane structure.  If it does, what do you call it? I just can't think of (a storm) that parked itself up here like Hermine is expected to."

I left these comments:

“We've never seen anything quite like Hermine.”

Not quite true. How about this: “The Jersey shore had never seen anything like it. . . . Weather experts said it was the worst storm recorded since Colonial times.” That was how the book Great Storms of the Jersey Shore described the Great Atlantic Storm, also known as the Ash Wednesday Storm. The year was 1962, March 6-8.

I disagree that we've never seen anything quite like Hermine. I remember. True, no two storms are ever exactly alike. Hermine has tropical origins. 1962 was a winter storm. But both are essentially nor’easters stalled off of the coast, feeding off of the Gulf Stream—not exactly unheard of.

“Forecasters expect each successive high tide through Monday morning to get progressively worse, with winds from Hermine spinning in off the ocean, not allowing water to retreat entirely each time.

“It's a creeping threat, one that experts say should be taken deadly serious and that the National Hurricane Center said could cause life-threatening storm-surge inundation up and down the New Jersey coastline.”

This forecast for Hermine is a precise description of what did happen in 1962. The Great storm stalled for 3 days off of the mid-Atlantic coast, blocked by a cold front to the North. It had 50-60 mph winds, gusting to 84. Long Beach Island was demolished. I remember it well. I was 13. My family had a summer house in the Gilford Park section of Toms River. That area was flooded. We had family friends that had to be rescued from Pelican Island. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Great Storms of the Jersey Shore depicts rescue operations up and down the Jersey Shore and is full of graphic pictures of destruction that are indistinguishable from Sandy. The book describes 5 successive high tides, each higher than the previous. Each more destructive.

As I’m posting this, it looks like the threat has largely abated, as Hermine seems to be tracking much farther East than forecast. Let's hope so. We don’t need a repeat of 1962.


Interestingly, Great Storms of the Jersey Shore, which was published in 1993, predicted 2012’s Superstorm Sandy in the last chapter, The Storm that Eats the Jersey Shore. Drawing on long-held fears of weather experts, the fictional chapter eight tells the story of an unusual confluence of atmospheric conditions that could cause a coastal hurricane to vere West into the Jersey shore, rather than East out to sea as is the norm in Jersey’s latitude. It’s a story eerily similar to Sandy.

Movie theaters in New Jersey have been running coming attractions featuring Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” sequel. The add opens with clips of Sandy and an “I told you so” from Gore. Sandy, Gore wants us to believe, was a Never Before event. But, in fact, expectations of a storm like Sandy had been around for a long time.

Always take with a grain of salt proclamations of “We've never seen anything quite like” this or that. When it comes to weather, if it happens now, it has happened before.

Related Reading:

Great Storms of the Jersey Shore—Larry Savadove and Margaret Thomas Buchholz.

The Heroes who Enabled Advance Warning of Sandy—My article for The Objective Standard

Thursday, August 10, 2017

End, Don’t Expand, NJ’s Paid Family Leave Coercion

About 10 years ago, New Jersey enacted a so-called “paid family leave” scheme, under which an employee payroll tax would be levied to pay people to take time off for certain family matters. Since not “enough” people have claimed the “benefits,” Trenton politicians are formulating an expanded, more expensive (higher taxes) scheme.

In an opinion piece, Jon Whiten of the Leftist (statist) New Jersey Policy Perspective argued for 5 reasons Christie should approve paid family leave fixes, calling the new scheme “a bargain for workers” that would “only” cost them $2.45 per week.

I left these comments:

Do-gooders and humanitarians always talk about some group—in this case, “workers”—but never about actual human beings. Who is Whiten and his political enforcers to claim this is a “bargain” for all workers, and then force it down everybody’s throats?

Notice the arrogance: This new bill will “only” cost each worker $2.45 per week. A few years ago, under the original act now in effect, we were told it would “only” cost $0.60 per week! This new bill is a 300% tax increase, pushing more marginal workers toward or below the official poverty line. Socialist programs grow like cancer, spreading poverty in ever-widening circles. Add all of the welfare state, government-imposed “safety net” programs together, and the burden becomes an increasingly unbearable dead weight, as the workers getting by on the margin get pushed over the financial edge with each new “bargain” welfare scheme.

What’s missing from all of these types of arguments is any discussion of the morality of the means of achieving it. I don’t care how many “practical” arguments he makes to tell us how good this is. If it must be forced by law—which means, at gunpoint—it is wrong and immoral and contrary to the proper function of a government. A government should protect equally the rights of all individuals to judge for themselves what’s good for them, and act accordingly. The right to say “no” is essential to freedom.

If some kind of “paid family leave” is as good as Whiten claims, there’d be enough of a market for this type of insurance for private companies to create them. There’d be enough interest among “workers” to form and join mutual aid organizations into which they could contribute voluntarily. Barring any of that, each individual can plan for his own family leave by saving in a personal “rainy day” fund (financial planners have long included such savings as part of personal finance).

Another issue is what right do politicians have to force this on employers. Notice the injustice: Only “workers” are considered. Not businessmen. Individual employers have a right to enact their own family leave fringe benefits if it fits his business plan, of course. But again, it is immoral to use law to force it on them.

Collectivism is a convenient moral escape hatch. One can seem to “care,” by virtue of naming some group, even as one disregards the rights of actual individual persons. On all of these types of programs, if private voluntary initiative won’t do it, then it doesn’t get done. There is no compassion in not respecting each individual’s right to decide for herself. The welfare state should be phased out. We can start with ending, rather than expanding, NJ’s paid family leave act.

Whiten and his New Jersey Policy Perspective can list all the reasons they want. But there is one reason why government-imposed paid family leave should be abolished: It is immoral because individual rights-violating.

Related Reading:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Martin Luther King: An 'Authentic American Hero'—or Not?

In a post on his Facebook group For the New Intellectuals, Anoop Verma highlighted an Objective Standard article by Ari Armstrong titled “Dr. King Ended the Terror of Living in the South”. In a comment, Jim Austin wrote:

The legend of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King continues to grow, even as people have long lost sight of his actual ideas.

Each year we hear of his dreams of "freedom," "liberty," "justice," "equality," "brotherhood," "peace." King was not at all reluctant to give specific meaning to his grandiose words. However, as far as the media was concerned, such efforts rarely made it past the editor's cutting knife.

When King announced his opposition to the Vietnam War, he gave his reasons: "These are revolutionary times," he said April 4, 1967. "All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the womb a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born...We in the West must support these revolutions."

This was his description of such progressive movements as the Viet Cong, the Pathet Lao and the Khmer Rouge.

The words were intended for the eyes and ears of the entire world. But an admiring media deliberately suppressed them. They did not consider the American people ready to understand a champion of peace and freedom siding with a vicious, totalitarian movement.

King is not now nor has he ever been an authentic American hero. From the beginning King was a media hero. Reporters and TV cameras followed him about, always at his beck and call.

King never actually stood up to the violence of the KKK and other various dumb, ignorant, knuckle-dragging rednecks in the South. Rather, in following the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi, whose advice to Jews facing extermination in Nazi Germany was to throw themselves off the hills and cliffs of Europe into the sea, in effect saving Hitler the trouble and expense of killing them, King encourage his followers to provoke and then passively endure racist violence in an effort to gain sympathy from the nation watching them on TV.

However, during the last year of his life, King was very much a fading star as journalists rushed their cameras and microphones to various black militants and revolutionaries whose threats of murder and mayhem seemed more fascinating then King's own words of nonviolence.

To do justice to the memory of King, we should at least remember his actual ideas.

I left this rebuttal:

I don’t think one can extrapolate from that brief statement of 4/4/67 that King supported the sinister agendas of these movements, which camouflaged their true totalitarian motives behind veneers of peace, justice, and equality. The Khmer Rouge was barely known in 1967, didn’t come to power in Cambodia until the mid-1970s, and whose crimes were not recognized until the late 1970s.

Consider another speech that same year, August 16, 1967—“Where Do We Go From Here?,” Delivered at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention. Here, King presents his actual ideas on changing American society, and it certainly didn’t include a communist revolution. “It is perfectly clear that a violent revolution on the part of American blacks would find no sympathy and support from the white population and very little from the majority of the Negroes themselves.”

Instead, he said “What is needed is a strategy for change, a tactical program that will bring the Negro into the mainstream of American life as quickly as possible. King wanted to “bring the Negro into the mainstream of American life,” not overthrow it. That certainly doesn’t jibe with the sinister agendas of the Viet Cong, the Pathet Lao, or the Khmer Rouge. Furthermore, though King called for us to “begin to question the capitalistic economy”—which he wrongly believed America had at the time—King rejected communism:

“Now, don't think you have me in a bind today. I'm not talking about communism. What I'm talking about is far beyond communism. My inspiration didn't come from Karl Marx; my inspiration didn't come from Engels; my inspiration didn't come from Trotsky; my inspiration didn't come from Lenin. Yes, I read Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital a long time ago, and I saw that maybe Marx didn't follow Hegel enough. He took his dialectics, but he left out his idealism and his spiritualism. And he went over to a German philosopher by the name of Feuerbach, and took his materialism and made it into a system that he called ‘dialectical materialism.’ I have to reject that.

“What I'm saying to you this morning is communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.”

In other words, King advocated a mixed economy, hardly a radical view in America. The “synthesis” he spoke of was not just rhetoric. He advocated private voluntary initiatives to bring about change, and lauded the successes of initiatives like Operation Breadbasket and the Housing Development Corporation. But he also promoted some socialist “solutions” (such as the guaranteed basic income)—typical mixed economy thinking. King didn’t fully understand capitalism. But he was no communist.

Importantly, King promotes individualism (the “potential of the individual”) and self-esteem as a vital attributes for black success, hardly values to which communist insurgents would adhere.

King was a mixed bag, as many American heroes have been, and his policies reflected that. He was strong on civil rights and getting rid of legally enforced segregation, but he leaned Left economically. Unlike most of the Left, however, King didn’t view America's Founding principles as a failure or as outdated. Following in the footsteps of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass a century before, King saw them as relevant and as a guide forward, as evidenced in his “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s important when leaders reiterate those principles. On balance, King left the nation a better place. I think he deserves the accolade American hero.

Related Reading: