Every year, when we celebrate Martin Luther King Day — which opens, and carries Black History Month — we are obliged to re-enter a childlike state, in which we suspend disbelief, act as though we knew nothing about the man (or if we do live within such a veil of ignorance, refrain from lifting the veil). At the same time, we are supposed to swallow, undigested, the tripe we are served about our Founding Fathers, in order to diminish whites' "self-esteem," and thus elevate that of blacks.
If, however, we are so foolhardy as to lift the veil, we find ourselves immediately confronted with three problems which get in the way of celebrating MLK Day in the orthodox manner: The man's promiscuity, obsessive plagiarism, and what I call "the red and the black" — King's socialist politics and communist associations.
As the FBI found out, when it kept King under surveillance, he had a Kennedyesque sexual appetite, for any woman but his wife. Outraged blacks today condemn "the FBI" for the surveillance, but conveniently ignore two facts: King was a dangerous man who was surrounded by communists, and the FBI did not initiate such surveillance, but was ordered to, by none other than St. Bobby — Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Ain't history a kick in the head!
Although the authorities, and of course, King's close associates knew of his womanizing, the general public did not find out about this, until the 1989 publication of the memoirs of the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, King's closest friend and supporter, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. The Rev. Abernathy, who died shortly thereafter, was immediately denounced by King's supporters, for whom the truth was irrelevant or troublesome.
As Theodore Pappas painstakingly shows in his book, Plagiarism and the Culture War, Martin King was not an occasional, inadvertent plagiarist.
King's compulsive coveting of, and theft of other men's words began in childhood. During King's undergraduate studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta; master's degree studies at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania; and doctoral studies at Boston University, his plagiarisms only got worse with time. No less than one-third of King's 1955 doctoral dissertation was plagiarized — word for word, paragraph for paragraph — from a dissertation on the same topic by Jack Stewart Boozer, who had graduated only three years earlier!
As Pappas shows, by printing passages from King's and Boozer's respective dissertations side by side, King was promiscuous in his thefts, simply cutting and pasting entire passages of Boozer's words, as well as those of influential theologians such as Paul Tillich.
Theodore Pappas reports that,
"In fact, we know from King's scores on the Graduate Record Exam that he scored in the second lowest quartile in English and vocabulary, in the lowest ten percent in quantitative analysis, and in the lowest third on his advanced test in philosophy — a subject critical to the topic of his doctoral thesis. Instead, King was recommended for doctoral studies because he socialized well with white students, had won white support and approval, could be of 'useful service' in the future, and, so far from displaying any of those 'annoying qualities' that other Negroes exhibited (whatever this means), had even showed a disdain toward Negroes of a lower socioeconomic order. It was clearly on the basis of race and class, not scholarship, that [Crozer Theological Seminary Prof.] Enslin recommended King for doctoral studies.
That sounds like a description of the role that civil rights leaders have played for the white upper classes during the past fifty years.
(In all fairness, for as long as there have been universities and graduate schools, they have routinely accepted for graduate studies, and even hired as professors, mediocre white candidates on the basis of "class, not scholarship.")
Pappas continues that,
"The possibility that King benefited from white paternalism or from an early form of affirmative action ... gains credence when his years of plagiarizing are considered. Though the editors [of The King Papers<I>] treat this issue as gingerly as possible, their volume clearly proves that King was an inveterate plagiarist who began pilfering at an early age. The seminal speech he gave in Atlanta at the age of 15 is not only, as the editors say, 'more polished than other pieces that King wrote as a teenager,' it is perhaps more polished than anything King produced in either college or the seminary. The editors conclude that the 'essay probably benefited from adult editing and from King's awareness of similar orations.' Put less charitably, the speech was either written by an adult or copped from an unknown source."
"The evidence of King's pilferage is overwhelming. The editors do not simply highlight the 'borrowed' sections but simply reprint in footnotes the original passages King plagiarized, making the footnotes in this volume often as long and tedious as the documents themselves."
From 1987-90, "respectable" institutions and scholars cooperated in the cover-up of Martin King's plagiarism.
Clayborne Carson, director of the King Papers Project, deliberately misled journalists. Instead of simply comparing the dissertations in his own school's library, Boston University President Jon Westling unquestioningly accepted Carson's claims, insisting in 1990 that "not a single instance of plagiarism of any sort has been identified."
And mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, New Republic, Washington Post and Atlanta Journal/Constitution, sat on the story.
Once the story did come out, in spite of the above-named institutions and individuals, there was work in the damage-control sector for a certain Keith Miller.
A white composition instructor at Arizona State University, Miller constructed a theory of "voice merging." Miller's theory holds that blacks cannot commit plagiarism, because the black oral tradition does not recognize intellectual property rights, and that King merely took the words of white men in order to make himself intelligible and acceptable to white audiences.
As Theodore Pappas points out, MLK believed in intellectual property rights; he had taken a course at Boston University devoted to plagiarism and scholarly standards; he copyrighted the speeches he plagiarized from others; and Miller provides no evidence that such a "tradition" ever existed, let alone that King saw himself as part of it.
There is no "voice merging" tradition. Keith Miller made it up, with its attendant revision of black American (and thus American) history, with the sole and explicit purpose of rescuing King's scholarly reputation.
Arguably the worst nightmare of the entire MLK plagiarism story, is that even his most famous oration was largely plagiarized. The "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Monument to over one hundred thousand listeners at the Poor People's March, was largely the property of another black preacher, the Rev. Archibald Carey, who had delivered it, of all places, at the 1952 Republican National Convention.
Pappas observes that Keith Miller sought to "transform plagiarism into a virtue in light of King's pilfering."http://toogoodreports.com/column/general/stix/012201.htm