Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association
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“Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States of America, is racist.”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia (January 12, 2018), in response to President Trump’s comments about immigration
THESIS OF BLOG POST
We have several points of contention with the latest Lily’s Blackboard article.
However, for the purpose of this blog post, we will restrict our comments to just one misconception that we noticed.
When NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia invokes Martin Luther King to criticize President Trump’s position on immigration, it appears that she is unaware that King was not really a big proponent of open borders at all.
TRUMP’S “RACIST” COMMENT ON IMMIGRATION
As the opening quote makes clear, the NEA President doesn’t mince words.
According to Garcia, Trump is a racist because he would rather have immigrants from Norway than from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa.
Why does this make Trump a racist?
Read the words of Ms. Garcia for the answer to this question:
"Now, let’s see. What are some of the key differences between Norway and the countries on the president’s list? Let us begin with the obvious one: Norway is overwhelmingly white. The countries Trump denigrated are majority black and brown.”
Although we don’t necessarily come to the same conclusion as the NEA President, her reasoning does make sense to a certain degree.
But how does Martin Luther King come into all of this?
THE NEA PRESIDENT INVOKES MARTIN LUTHER KING
Below are two quotes from Lily’s Blackboard which reference Martin Luther King.
MLK Invocation #1:
“It’s not lost on me that on Monday, January 15, we celebrate the holiday in honor of Dr. King, a courageous leader who honored America’s values by urging us to live up to them. When someone laments that we have too many immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador and not enough from Norway, there’s only one word for it [racist].”
MLK Invocation #2
“It is clear that we must all speak out, using whatever megaphones and forums we can. Those of us who vehemently disagree with the president cannot be quiet about it. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Here is our interpretation of Garcia’s position:
“I will invoke Martin Luther King to support my contention that the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, is racist and evil. I ask you to consider the following:
THE PROBLEM WITH GARCIA’S INVOCATION OF KING
Garcia is attempting to bolster her position (that Trump is a racist) by infusing it with the aura of the slain civil rights hero. After all, successfully invoking Martin Luther King to support one’s point of view tends to give it gravitas.
The problem is that Martin Luther King didn’t necessarily have a view on immigration consistent with Garcia’s portrayal of it.
As Ian Smith explains in his National Review article (January 14, 2018), we don’t really know what King’s position on immigration would be because he never explicitly talked much about it in any of his writings or speeches. This is not surprising since …
“… our current mass immigration system began to be implemented only in 1968, the year he [King] died.”
But if we can’t quote King directly, is there any possibly way to get a handle on how he would have responded to the current immigration question?
Smith thinks that there is:
“… according to King’s former lawyer and close adviser Clarence B. Jones … it’s clear what King’s response would have been.”
It turns out that Martin Luther King was a supporter of Cesar Chavez, “one of the earliest campaigners against open borders.”
So if King supported an individual who was against open borders (i.e. immigration), it is reasonable to believe that he may have felt the same way.
In fact, Jones says that King would certainly have been against any policy which allowed …
“... countless numbers of illegal immigrants to flood across and either take or undermine jobs done by Americans, especially brown and black Americans.’”
We totally understand why NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia chose to wrap her opinions within the mantle of Martin Luther King. Unfortunately, at least according to King’s close adviser Clarence Jones, the mantle probably doesn’t’ quite fit.
And one final point.
Jones also says that King would have rejected any support for “groups such as La Raza.”
Why bring this up?
Because the NEA is a supporter of this organization and has worked with them on many occasions (do a search on the NEA website using La Raza as a search term and see how many articles you find).
So Ms. Garcia, when you call President Trump a racist because of his opinions on immigration, you might not want to quote Martin Luther King to back up your argument.
It kind of makes you look a little silly.