In his post below on “civil rights then and now,” Trunk refers to Hillary Clinton’s riff on Martin Luther King’s dream that his children would be judged, not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. According to Hillary, “if we don’t take race as part of our character, then we are kidding ourselves.”
Here’s what I had to say about this shocking claim in January 2003, when Ms. Clinton made it:
Hillary Clinton is on record that race is part of one’s character. And those who refuse to adopt this racist view are kidding themselves. So now, according to Ms. Clinton, it must be proper to judge people on the basis of skin color, since it is part of the content of their character. What specific judgments about character are we expected to reach on the basis of race? In the context of the debate over race-based admissions policies, it seems that we are expected to conclude that African-Americans can’t compete with whites. This is a conclusion I decline to reach. Am I just kidding myself?
And was Dr. King? The power of his speech (which I was fortunate enough to have been present for) lies precisely in the distinction he drew between skin color and character. Ms. Clinton not only conflates the two, but claims that those who decline to join her in this “don’t understand Dr. King’s dream and legacy.” Would last Monday have been a holiday if King had proclaimed as his vision that his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, but that skin color would factor into the evaluation of their character? Ms. Clinton would convert what is probably the most powerful, coherent speech in American history into gibberish.
I think I understand Dr. King’s dream. His legacy, unfortunately, is up for grabs.