Over the years, many people have used the name of Martin Luther King Jr. to justify their positions on a wide variety of subjects. His name has become a frequent drop for politicians and argumenters alike.
For instance, the most recent edition of New Yorker featured MLK kneeling with NFL players in a depiction of protests that have caused controversy in the nation. The issue here is we don’t know that MLK would be kneeling. We don’t know what he would be doing.
We don’t know what his stance would be on tax reform, immigration policy, international relations or even current race-based issues. Yet, his name can and does get pulled into things.
However, these are usually arguments where King’s name really doesn’t need to be there.
One of the most common logical fallacies is the appeal to authority. This is basically what’s being used when people try to use a reference to King in order to win an argument.
His name is recognizable and is one that a large portion of people have a positive view of. When trying to win an argument, it almost makes sense to bring somebody like that into it: to say that person would have agreed with you.
The only problem with that, unfortunately, is that King was assassinated. He’s no longer around to give his opinion on issues.
Nobody can assume what anybody who isn’t alive anymore would have thought about a particular issue or situation. Surely King would have an opinion on what these people, and particularly politicians, are debating on. However, he’s not around to give it.
We need to stop sullying his name and cheapening it by using him as a defense for arguments. When King’s name gets used so often, it makes what he actually fought for seem less important or to have less of an impact.
The only stances we can say he had are the ones are the ones he blatantly stated and stood up for during his lifetime. It is unfair to him, his memory and his family to use him as a debating tool for whatever side of an issue you agree with.
It’s time to stop constantly bringing him into new debates and allow him to stay in his accomplishments of the past while remembering his contributions.
Miki Shine is a senior majoring in mass communication.