John McCain booed during his MLK Speech


Why was he booed?  McCain admits to having voted no in 1983 for a National Holiday to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He just didn’t know enough about MLK at the time to see him as a national hero nor to understand how his work merited a Holiday in his name.  I find it troubling that it would take anyone time to realize the impact Dr. King had in this Country, especially when the person considering his importance is a sitting congressman.  I’m glad he’s come around to see the value of what the legacy of Dr. King stands for but I don’t think he’s gotten completely.  It feels all too convenient.

Sometimes the most radical thing is to be confronted with our own standards — to be asked simply that we live up to the principles we profess. Even in this most idealistic of nations, we do not always take kindly to being reminded of what more we can do, or how much better we can be, or who else can be included in the promise of America. We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King. I was wrong and eventually realized that, in time to give full support for a state holiday in Arizona. We can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing, and Dr. King understood this about his fellow Americans. But he knew as well that in the long term, confidence in the reasonability and good heart of America is always well placed. And always, that was his method in word and action — to remind us of who we are and what we believe. His arguments were unanswerable and they were familiar, the case always resting on the writings of the Founders, the teachings of the prophets, and the Word of the Lord.

Washington Post


McCain: I voted in my first year in congress against it. Then I began to learn. And I studied. And people talked to me. And I not only supported it, but I fought very hard in my own state of Arizona for recognition against a governor who was of my own party.  …

Reporter: On Martin Luthor King, what do you mean you say you learned?

McCain: Well, I learned that this individual was a transcendent figure in American history. He deserved to be honored. And I thought it was appropriate to do so. In my home state of Arizona, I was not proud that we were one of the last states to recognize Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday. And I was pleased to be part of the fight for that recognition.

Reporter: What didn’t you know when you voted initially against it that you later knew when you changed your mind?

McCain: I had not really been involved in the issue. I just had not had a lot of experience with the issue. That’s all.

Reporter: [couldn’t hear question]

McCain: In Arizona, I came from the military where we are the greatest equal opportunity employer in the nation and still are. And I had just not been involved in the issue. There were issues that I had not been involved in when I was in the military, and then I went relatively quickly to being a member of Congress.

Reporter: You just didn’t realize the large role in American history?

McCain: I think I just explained it about best I could.

Reporter: It’s not really an issue to be involved in, to be aware of his impact on this country, it’s more of a knowledge of history.

McCain: I think you’re entitled to your opinion on it and I respect your opinion on that, but I had not been involved in the issue. I had come from being in the military to running for Congress in a state that did not have a large African American population.

The Daily Kos

As Kos points out, McCain was 32 when Dr. King died and 47 when he voted against the Holiday.   And it wasn’t just one time that he voted against a holiday, it was on several occasions he demonstrated that he did not feel that Dr. King deserved such an honor.  Former President Ronald Reagan even wrote a letter in 1990 asking that Arizona consider a Holiday for Dr. King.  No, this is not a joke.

The holiday went into effect in 1986. Only 27 states and D.C. honored the holiday that first year. Activists in state after state tried to prevent it from being recognized.

In Arizona, a bill to recognize a holiday honoring MLK failed in the legislature, so then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt, a Democrat, declared one through executive order.

In January 1987, the first act of Arizona’s new governor, Republican Evan Mecham, was to rescind the executive order by his predecessor to create an MLK holiday. Arizona’s stance became a national controversy.

McCain backed the decision at the time. But eventually he changed his mind.

In 1990, Arizonans were given an opportunity to vote to observe an MLK holiday. McCain successfully appealed to former President Ronald Reagan to support the holiday. In a letter to voters, Reagan wrote that he hoped Arizonans would “join me in supporting a holiday to commemorate these ideals to which Dr. King dedicated his life.”
Political Punch

There are plenty of reasons for Democrats to not vote for John McCain, but I do believe that his ignorance of Dr. King is an excuse to protect himself from admitting his total lack of understanding about one of the greatest things about our culture heritage.  Dr. King worked for equality among all people not just for African Americans and I want to end this with one of my favorite things I’ve read about Dr. King from Cornel West, another hero of mine.  I transcribed this from The Rolling Stone issue where they endorsed Barack Obama for The Democratic Nominee for President.

Rolling Stone interviewed Dr. Cornel West and asked if the ground swell of support from not only blacks but whites as well for Obama meant that America had finally realized Dr. King’s dream of a colorblind Country?

A color blind country is a false hope.  Martin Luther King jr. did not wan us to be colorblind in the sense the concept usually used today – he wanted us to be love-struck by one another. Being love-struck by your fellow citizen means embracing their humanity – which includes their color, culture and history.