Tea Party Congressman Allen West did not approve of President Obama’s suggestion, made at the dedication of the Washington memorial honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that Dr. King would have sympathized with the “Occupy Wall Street” protests of this moment.
“If he were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there,” the president told the crowd at the dedication of the memorial. “Those with power and privilege will often decry any call for change as divisive. They’ll say any challenge to the existing arrangements are unwise and destabilizing. Dr. King understood that peace without justice was no peace at all.”
Those words drew strenuous objections from Florida Congressman West, who like a lot of conservative Republicans has been arguing of late that right-wing movements such as the Tea Party are virtuous and patriotic, while objecting to any positive portrayals of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests or the “99 Percent” phenomenon that has swept the country in recent weeks.
Asked about “Occupy Wall Street,” Congressman West declared this week: “Martin Luther King Jr. would not have backed these types of protesters.”
Dr. King, always a believer in nonviolent civil disobedience, spent his last months organizing the national Poor People’s Campaign, which sought to bring low-income Americans from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to Washington to focus on poverty; dramatize the pressing need for jobs, income, healthcare and housing; and raise fundamental questions about the gap between rich and poor in America.
“America is at a crossroads of history, and it is critically important for us as a nation and a society to choose a new path and move upon it with resolution and courage.… In this age of technological wizardry and political immorality, the poor are demanding that the basic needs of people be met as the first priority of our domestic program,” Dr. King declared, in launching the campaign that sought to proposed to bring the poor to Washington, march to the offices of federal agencies and camp out until action was taken to address economic inequality and injustice.
That sounds an awfully lot like Occupy Wall Street.