Quote of the Day: MLK on lukewarm acceptance vs outright rejection

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
~ Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963

There’s some typical examples of lukewarm acceptance over on a thread at Pharyngula which was meant to honour the memories of the 14 women killed in 1989 by Marc Lépine at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, but which was derailed within 12 comments by someone outraged that a culture of misogynistic denigration of women was being called out as an enabling factor for this sort of massacre. But he denied being misogynistic himself, of course. Several defenders leapt to his support, of course. Because PZ was being unnecessarily provocative by pointing out that saying misogynistic things lends support to those who believe that misogynistic actions are justified, of course.

Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, social justice

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3 replies

  1. I neglected to name the dead women, and I should have done so:
    Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
    Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
    Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
    Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
    Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
    Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
    Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
    Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
    Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
    Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
    Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
    Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
    Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
    Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

  2. This is a bit sideways, but.
    I’ve finally been catching up with Redfern Now, and my favourite episode so far is Stand Up, the fourth (that’s what I’ve watched up to). And part of what I really like about it is the superb job the actor playing the school principal does, conveying why nice white left-wing “I’m not racist” condescension may be worse to deal with than explicit racism.
    It definitely reminded me of that MLK quote when watching, and was a handy pointer to this nice white left-winger about how not to do it :-).

  3. Thank you. I needed to see this.
    For background information, since I don’t think I’ve commented here before: I’m a woman and also a math prof at a large research uni. Just today, I was talking to a fellow woman in math (not sure if she’d want to be named) who was saying that the main problem right now is not dudes who are outright misogynist. It’s folks (both male and female) who always start by saying “I’m very supportive of women in science but…” then elaborate at length on the “but” part. I think I agree with her. History does like to repeat itself, doesn’t it.

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