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Posted by on Oct 1, 2007 in At TMV | 10 comments

Why We See Elliott’s Law

Elliott’s Law posits that:

As an online discussion concerning race grows longer, the probability of a person referencing Martin Luther King, Jr. as a means to justify their racist and/or ignorant attitudes approaches one.

It’s certainly something I’ve observed. But why Martin Luther King? Because he’s dead, that’s why. And being dead, he poses no threat to the “splitting” meme that tries to discredit the current generation of civil rights activists from their peers in the 1960s. Other political civil rights leaders from the 60s (particularly the living ones) don’t work for that goal, because a) their advocacy is substantively identical to that of contemporary leaders, b) the critiques they were subjected to are substantively identical to those folks want to throw out against contemporary leaders, and/or c) they are literally identical — by and large, the current crop of Black civil rights leaders earned their stripes by working in the 60s civil rights movement. King, of course, can no longer explain his advocacy, can no longer remind audiences of how he was criticized and abused by the White press, and can no longer pose a threat to directly challenge current policies. Making him a very convenient prop. On account of being dead.

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