GOP Tries to Lay Claim of Legacy Of MLK, Who Fought Against 'Injustice' of Health Care Inequality

From the RNC to Sarah Palin, right-wingers love to tie the conservative movement to King's work.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Republican National Committee (RNC) put out a statement from chairman Michael Steele today honoring Dr. King's "epic and historic fight for civil rights." Yesterday, Sarah Palin also put up a Facebook message celebrating his "efforts against racial discrimination." Both the RNC and Palin also tried to tie the conservative movement to King's work:

RNC: "Though close to 50 years have come and gone since Dr. King delivered his 'I Have A Dream' speech, the principles by which he lived and worked remain as true as the day he began his epic and historic fight for civil rights. The principles of freedom, faith, and opportunity for all people are truly timeless and will continue to influence America and the world for generations to come. As we celebrate his legacy, I'm reminded that his message is rooted in ideals and principles that the Republican Party has advocated since its inception. Today, our Party and the nation honors Dr. King's dream by continuing his fight -- the fight for all Americans to have an equal chance at the American Dream."

Palin: "Please take a moment to tell your children about this great man. He fought for liberty and equality because he knew they were God-given and he knew that no government should be empowered to thwart our freedom. King summarized his mission when stating that no one should be judged based on skin color, but by the content of one’s character."

King is best remembered for his work fighting racial discrimination. But King's vision for equality extended beyond integrated schools and businesses. He was also a fierce champion for the labor movement and living wage laws. Additionally, King believed that universal health care was essential to ensuring true equality in America. In a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966, King famously said:

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.

As the Kaiser Family Foundation has noted, the health reform bills being considered by Congress -- which conservatives are opposing -- would significantly benefit persons of color, who make up more than 50 percent of the uninsured (even though they comprise just one third of the U.S. population).

Amanda Terkel is Deputy Research Director at the Center for American Progress and serves as Deputy Editor for The Progress Report and at the Center for American Progress.
Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018