Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech by publishing a lengthy editorial in Politico titled “The End of Race.”
Reading Jindal’s piece it quickly becomes clear that he probably has no idea what the “I have a Dream” speech and March on Washington were actually about.
A little-remembered fact about the March on Washington was that it was billed as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Despite the theme of the event he’s commemorating, Jindal makes no mention of jobs in his piece. There is also no talk of voting rights, health care, or income inequality.
Instead, Jindal writes that Americans just need to stop thinking about race and all of our troubles will go away. Oh, and there were also mentions of “Hyphenated” Americans (not good), divorce, abortion, pornography and profanity — standard conservative talking points all.
He began the piece with this:
Scan the news on any given day in America, and you will invariably find multiple stories about race, racism, ethnicity, and race relations. We can’t seem to get enough of this topic, and correspondingly, the media appetite for all things race-related is unquenchable.
Perhaps one of the reasons Americans still have strong feelings about race and racism is because just 50 years ago this was the norm. (This passage appears just a few paragraphs before the iconic “I have a dream” portion of Martin Luther King’s speech):
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
It’s unfortunate that Jindal decided to commemorate such a beautifully written, powerful speech with such a boring, by-the-numbers editorial. Combined with the fact that Jindal is calling for everyone to deracinate themselves, it pretty much guaranteed that people were not impressed.
Bobby Jindal blames racial inequality on minorities being too proud of their heritages http://t.co/XvvEMrgi1r
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) August 25, 2013
Bobby Jindal has solved the minority injustice problem: Stop Being Minorities
— Lalo Alcaraz (@laloalcaraz) August 25, 2013
This is what happens when we collapse “race” into “skin color.” http://t.co/tlN38OoUVo
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) August 25, 2013
"We live in the age of hyphenated Americans" – Bobby Jindal. Is he implying calling myself an Indian-American means I'm not American enough?
— Serena Vora (@serenavora) August 25, 2013
Bobby Jindal says racism persists because minorities place "undue emphasis" on their heritages. Hear that? Erase racism by erasing yourself!
— Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami) August 26, 2013