On Martin Luther King Day on Monday, when we honor the life and work of the great civil rights leader who changed our nation for the better and helped end bigoted and exclusionary policies against African- Americans, we should also remember his message applies to bias and bigotry in all its forms.
In a 1963 speech at Western Michigan University, Dr. King said: “There are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of goodwill will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry.”
Republicans did exactly the right thing this week when they expressed their “maladjustment” toward the bigoted remarks of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. Members of Congress who use hateful language should be censured.
At the same time, Democrats should express “maladjustment” toward bigotry in their own party – specifically rising anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism.
Democrats should express “maladjustment” toward bigotry in their own party – specifically rising anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism
Where is the vote of disapproval for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who in December questioned whether U.S. district judge nominee Brian Buescher was qualified to be a federal judge, given his Catholic faith and membership in the Knights of Columbus – a century-old Catholic charitable organization?
This is a clear attempt to apply the religious test that anti-faith members of the Democratic Party are trying to put in place.
It was more of the same anti-Catholic bigotry which Senate Democrats levied against the judicial nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Amy Coney Barrett, during her confirmation hearings in September, 2017. Then, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., remarked to Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you” and commented that Barrett’s religious beliefs may prevent her from upholding the law as a judge.
Similarly, where is the official condemnation for Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.?
Tlaib received a great deal of attention for using foul language when referring to President Trump at a campaign event – but that’s not what really concerns me. Where is the Democratic outrage for Tlaib’s relabeling Israel as "Palestine" on the map in her office? Why are House Democrats not moving to denounce her for having private dinners with a pro-Hezbollah activist who tweeted, “Israel does not have a right to exist. The terrorist entity is illegal and has no basis to exist other than a delusional ISIS-like ideology.”
What about disapproval for Tlaib’s defense of former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill after he was fired for calling for a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea,” a phrase commonly used by Hamas for decades which describes wiping out Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean?
Finally, why have no Democrats condemned Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., a vocal supporter of the BDS movement (which stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions for Israel)? She has publicly called Israel "evil" and claimed the nation had “hypnotized the world,” a common anti-Semitic trope.
In addition to considering the Rev. King’s message of ending bigotry, my hope is that Democrats would also follow their colleague, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who wrote about this issue earlier this month for The Hill.
“The party that worked so hard to convince people that Catholics and Knights of Columbus like Al Smith and John F. Kennedy could be both good Catholics and good public servants shows an alarming disregard of its own history in making such attacks today," Gabbard wrote.
“We must call this out for what it is – religious bigotry," Gabbard continued. "This is true not just when such prejudice is anti-Catholic, but also when it is anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu, or anti-Protestant, or any other religion.”
Aside from being morally bankrupt, nurturing bigotry against religious groups in Congress will cost the Democrats in the long run. As Michael Gerson wrote Thursday in The Washington Post, “if liberal Democrats want to compare the Catholic Church to a hate group, good luck with that. They will offend the last religious traditionalists they haven’t already and alienate a good many others besides.”
As the Rev. King said, we should all be maladjusted to bigotry. It has no place in America – and especially not in American government.