William J. Bennett, erstwhile secretary of education and drug czar, emerged this week as the new Republican designated hitter. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, he speciously attacked the Civil Rights Act of 1991 as a "quota bill."
Neither the message nor the forum was new; you can set your clock by how quickly the Wall Street Journal comes out against any meaningful civil rights legislation. In his article Bennett dutifully peddled the Journal's canard that Martin Luther King would be horrified at "quota bills," because all he ever wanted was "a color-blind society" in which people are judged "on the content of their character" and "not on the color of their skin." In effect, Bennett has endorsed a civil rights strategy of 1964.
This effort to transmogrify Martin Luther King Jr. is, to put it mildly, despicable. It is true that he uttered the words quoted above. But we must remember that King died in 1968. We cannot allow a person to become frozen in time, because if we do, even Abraham Lincoln becomes a racist.