King’s Niece Picked the Wrong Fight at Glenn Beck’s D.C. Rally

It was tacky and wrong-headed to use the occasion to speak out against gay and abortion rights.

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I agree with the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart who says self-proclaimed King legacy heir, and niece, Alveda King had every right to speak her mind at Glenn Beck's controversial rally in Washington, D.C., this past weekend. But I and others like me have just as much right to proclaim her tacky and wrong-headed in using the occasion to speak out against gay and abortion rights. Capehart's beef is not exactly the same as mine.

[See our photos of Glenn Beck's rally.]

He took her to task for "flogging" Beck's rally as an extension of her late uncle's legacy (which it was not, despite Beck's claim that it was). And he added: "Dr. King’s legacy is precious. Alveda King on Saturday besmirched it."

My difference with Alveda King arises from her move to co-opt her uncle's legacy to "flog" issues not central to the civil rights era. While anti-abortion rights activists claim Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was opposed to abortion (and gay rights) the paper trail is less clear. Since those issues were not yet the hot topics they are today, why try to twist Dr. King's record to one's own politics, when so many people know she's off course? She hurts her own integrity and comes off as one more interested in scoring political points than staying true to history.

It's not the first time Alveda King has done this, just the culmination of a years-long trend. In 2008 this report on a Christian Web site quoted her as follows:

"Abortion and racism are both symptoms of a fundamental human error," King said, according to a released statement. "The error is thinking that when someone stands in the way of our wants, we can justify getting that person out of our lives. Abortion and racism stem from the same poisonous root, selfishness,” she added.

Sorry, but abortion rights and racism simply are not comparable. Racism is unacceptable and violates a basic human right. Abortion is quite something else again. I support abortion rights but I'm not sure I would go so far as to call it a human rights issue. We way overuse the terms "human right" or "civil right" to the point where everyone claims something they want and don't have is a civil right. We are at the point where the terms are so overused, they have become meaningless. But to equate abortion with racism is so way out of whack with reality, it says more about the person using the terms interchangeably, than it does about either of those issues.