None Dare Call It “Kingwashing”

UPDATE: A blast from the past–from the May 9, 1992 edition of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News, here is a far less reverent state Rep. Mike Coffman when it came to honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As written by John Sanko and Fawn Germer in their recap of "Unforgettable Moments of the '92 Legislative Session."

The "He's Got Some Nerve" Award

This goes to Rep. Mike Coffman, who missed all but a week of the 1991 session to serve in the gulf war. But when Rep. Wilma Webb was excused for Martin Luther King Day and Democrats wanted the House to "lay over" the vote on a bill she supported, Coffman argued against it. Although bills routinely are laid over, Coffman said Webb should have showed up if she wanted to vote. [Pols emphasis]

That was then, folks, and this is now–original post follows.


Photo via Facebook

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels cheerily reports:

This year’s MLK parade featured an unprecedented number of Republicans, including Congressman Mike Coffman and state Sen. Greg Brophy, as the Colorado Republican Party continues its outreach to minorities. [Pols emphasis]

Party chairman Ryan Call said the GOP worked with American Conservatives of Color and had a registration booth at Civic Center Park and participated in a honk-and-wave.

“We’re building on what we did last year,” he said. “We have quite a number of Republicans that are marching in support of Martin Luther King day and demonstrating the commitment the Republican Party has for engagement within our community.”

Yesterday, GOP Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman issued this statement:

“Martin Luther King, Jr. blessed our country and the entire world with his life’s work to secure civil rights for all. It is fitting to honor the life of this great American and to recognize his legacy of promoting the self-evident truth that all people are created equal.” 

We've posted a few more photos from Republican lawmakers who marched in the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Denver yesterday after the jump. Bartels' story has a photo supplied by Rep. Mike Coffman, grinning widely at the parade with Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Since the parade yesterday, and especially in the wake of Bartels' glowing write-up of "unprecedented" GOP participation, we've heard a variety of opinions, ranging from open contempt for what's perceived to be Republican hypocrisy and media whitewash, to honest gratitude for anyone who wishes to march in honor of Dr. King's work and legacy in American history. With that said, the history of the holiday honoring Dr. King and Republicans is not without controversy. President Ronald Reagan himself opposed the federal holiday, relenting only after it passed Congress by a veto-proof margin. A large body of conservative historiography seeks to undermine Dr. King's legacy, and the civil rights movement generally.

In fact, based on just about everything we learned in college, there's a huge gap between the ideology of Republicans who marched in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King yesterday, and the views of Dr. King. Rather than questioning the premise of this story, or asking a man like 2014 U.S. Senate also-ran Randy Baumgardner to comment on issues for which he (to put it charitably) is not qualified, we would like to know if there are any Republicans willing to endorse these statements by the same Dr. King they marched in honor of yesterday:

-When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

-A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

-We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity — thus capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism.

-We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifices. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad…the way to end poverty is to end the exploitation of the poor. Insure them a fair share of the government’s services and the nation’s resources. We must recognize that the problems of neither racial nor economic justice can be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.

-Yes, before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood. Some will be dismissed as dangerous rabble-rousers and agitators. Some will be called reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome.

And perhaps our favorite:

-When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

With that, we'll turn this discussion over to our readers. Should Republicans march in parades honoring Dr. King without reconciling their politics with the man they claim to be honoring? What would Dr. King think of, for example, Rep. Coffman's work to roll back federal voting rights law protecting bilingual ballots? Has enough time passed since the civil rights era that Dr. King can now serve as a politically generic feel-good icon for all sides? Have we got it all wrong about Republicans and their legitimate admiration for Dr. King?

Either way, we haven't found the term "Kingwashing" in use elsewhere. We'd like credit if that becomes a thing.

Photo via Facebook

Photo via Facebook

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ModeratusModeratus says:

    I think it's offensive that Colorado Pols assumes there are no black conservatives. Or that Republicans are racist. We can honor the man without agreeing with a few cherry picked quotes.

    • DavieDavie says:

      Ignorance is offensive.  The named GOP representatives are white.

      Where did you get this stupid idea?

      I think it's offensive that Colorado Pols assumes there are no black conservatives. – See more at:

      • ModeratusModeratus says:

        Because it's not stupid? It's obvious Colorado Pols thinks the American Conservatives of Colorado are not legitimate.

        • DavieDavie says:

          Huh?  Do you even read your own words?  First you claim CoPols doesn't believe black conservatives even exist.  Now you claim they think *all* Colorado Conservatives are illegitimate.

          Which one are you?:




          4)professional victim, or

          5)all of the above?

          • ModeratusModeratus says:

            Alright, forget the conservatives of color. Why does Colorado Pols think it's illegitimate for Republicans to celebrate MLK Day?

            • rathmone says:

              What does it say about Republicans that the simple fact they're celebrating MLK is deemed newsworthy?

              • Diogenesdemar says:

                Ummm . . . 

                . . . slow news day in Broncoland??

                . . . the Republucan Commissary at the capital decided not to put their annual chicken-fry on this week's menu??

                . . . the unintelligible coverage of Scott Gessler wasn't ready by press time??

                . . . Shorty Brophy left his lifts out on the plains this week, so his press conference had to be cancelled??

                . . . Bartels got sidetracked by her Wednesday deadline for her Tancredo puff piece??

            • DavieDavie says:

              OK, color me skeptical that you only disagree with "a few cherry-picked quotes" from Dr. King.

              Personally, I can't speak for CoPols, but I think their article above puts things in perspective quite well.  You have yet to provide any evidence backing up any of your accusations.

            • marklane1351 says:

              It is not wrong for Republicans to celebrate MLK DAY and march in the parade. But, if you choose to you need to condemn racist policies, laws, and judicial opinion. This goes for everyone.You need to condemn the racist Republican efforts to keep minorites out of the voting booth. Lets not pretend the Republican party doesn't actively try to suppress the vote of minorities. We all know its true.  We need to condemn the judicial decision gutting the Voting Rights Act. The intent of that decision may not have been racist, but the result was to allow racisist voting policies to flourish. Marching in the parade and celebrating Dr. King needs to mean more than just being seen doing it. Otherwise you are just a stupid hypocrit!

  2. itlduso says:

    It's obvious.  Coffman is sucking up to the black community because his district now has more black voters.  Just last week we were noting that he himself stated a desire  to support immigration reform because his district also has more Hispanic voters.  Some may call that representing the interests of his district.  Others would see it as naked political expediency.  I think, make that I know, the minority community will know who to choose between Coffman and Romanoff.

  3. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Strawman alert!

    Why does Colorado Pols think it's illegitimate for Republicans to celebrate MLK Day? –

    Short answer: Colorado Pols doesn't think that. Pols is asking whether Republicans would agree with Dr. King's stated views (quoted in post) on military spending, pursuit of "profits before people", hounding those perceived as Communist because they beleive in economic justice, etc.

    A myth spread currently is that Martin Luther King, Jr, was a Republican and a conservative. MLK,  Senior, was a Republican until 1960, when he switched to support JFK.  MLK, Jr, was pretty open about finding racism and hypocrisy among both Republicans and Democrats.

    Straw man knocked down. It is legitimate for Republicans to celebrate Dr. King's birthday. Republicans should also be honest about their areas of agreement and disagreement with Dr. King's ideals.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.