For several years now, America has been busy renaming streets, schools, parks, prizes and sports teams. Here’s a list of name-changes that have taken place since the George Floyd riots. Scientists are even changing the names of insects, because some of them have been deemed insensitive to non-white ethnic groups. In Science Mag, we’re told that:
“Noosing” is a long-standing term used by herpetologists for catching lizards. But for McGee, a Black scientist, the term is unnerving, calling to mind horrific lynchings of Black people by white people in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. “Being the only Black person out in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of white people talking about noosing things is unsettling,” she says. McGee has urged her colleagues to change the parlance to “lassoing,” which she says also more accurately describes how herpetologists catch lizards with lengths of thread.
Hence, even when no offense was originally intended, if it’s possible that somebody MIGHT take offense at a name, it’s justification to change it.
Many of the people behind the original names were not evil; they were men, and women, of their times. Some of them were heroes – but this carries little weight to those who judge historical figures by today’s woke standards.
And then we have a man like Martin Luther, the founder of the Reformation Movement in Europe. A Christianity Today article describes him thusly:
“Set fire to their synagogues or schools,” Martin Luther recommended in On the Jews and Their Lies. Jewish houses should “be razed and destroyed,” and Jewish “prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, [should] be taken from them.” In addition, “their rabbis [should] be forbidden to teach on pain of loss of life and limb.” Still, this wasn’t enough.
Luther also urged that “safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews,” and that “all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them.” What Jews could do was to have “a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade” put into their hands so “young, strong Jews and Jewesses” could “earn their bread in the sweat of their brow.”
These fierce comments have puzzled and embarrassed Christians who otherwise admire the Reformer. And they have led to charges that Luther was “one of the ‘church fathers’ of anti-Semitism.” More seriously, Luther’s attacks have been seen as paving the way for Hitler.
It’s true that Luther was more tolerant at one point – but that was before he realized that the Jews were not going to flock to his new Christianity. He became MORE anti-Semitic later in life. If we are to judge Luther at all, then it makes sense to judge him based upon his later writings, to quote an Illinois Wesleyan University paper:
Unknown to popular knowledge, Luther wrote a treatise in 1543 titled On the Jews and Their Lies. In this 65,000-word document, he repeatedly attacks the Jews. The consequences of this treatise were far reaching, even extending into the present day, as his writings continue to be reproduced in pamphlets by neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups. More devastating, his writings were circulated during the most horrifying event of the 20th century: the Holocaust. Hitler himself named Luther as one of history’s greatest reformers in his novel, Mein Kampf…
Luther’s attitude toward the Jews appeared to change over his life. His earlier attitudes seemed were sympathetic towards the Jews.
Perhaps Martin Luther King’s father, Michael King, should have considered this before changing his name, and he was a minister, so he surely would have been aware of this. If he wasn’t, then ignorance is no excuse; one does not simply change his name after a historical figure, and not bother to learn about the figure beforehand. To call this “negligence” is too charitable.
According to The Atlanta Journal:
When he was born Jan. 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr.’s name was Michael. It’s the name originally on his birth certificate.
He was named after his father, the Rev. Michael King, who was senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
In 1934, Ebenezer sent “Daddy King” to Europe for a Baptist World Alliance meeting…
King toured much of Germany, the country that is the birthplace of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, which led to a split with the Catholic Church.
When he returned to Atlanta, the senior King decided to change his name and his son’s from Michael to Martin Luther, after the German Protestant leader, according to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford…
That is why King Jr.’s birth certificate — filed with the Georgia Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics — was altered on July 23, 1957, when he was 28. “Michael” is crossed out, and “Martin Luther Jr.” is printed next to it.
Martin Luther King was 28 years old when his name was legally changed. He was 39 years old when he was assassinated. He had 11 years to reconsider his father’s poor judgment.
While this reflects poorly on the man himself, the fact that his (tainted) name is shoved in our faces practically every day reflects poorly on our ruling class. As the only American with a holiday in his honor, 500 years of violent anti-Semitism is practically celebrated every January 17th. Additionally, practically every city in the United States has a Martin Luther King Blvd., and a Martin Luther King School. There are countless monuments and statues in his memory, each one bearing the name of a notorious anti-Semite.
There is nothing we can do about the past, but we can make things right by posthumously changing MLK’s name back to Michael King, or perhaps to Michael Leib King, so that the initials remain the same, “Leib” being a nod to Jewish support in the Civil Rights movement.