King III’S sincere ignorance
othing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” This is a perceptive saying by Martin Luther King Jr who rightly decried political prejudice that had no basis in reality. There is indeed nothing more dangerous than someone who believes something simply because someone else has told them it is true.
His son, Martin Luther King III, however, seems to have failed to keep this adage in mind, recently hoodwinked by a Hong Kong disreputable newspaper into expressing his support for the “Occupy Central” campaign, which is somewhat incompatible with his father’s anti-segregation stance.
On Wednesday, Apple Daily carried the front page headline: “the son of Martin Luther King Jr is endorsing Benny Tai’s ‘Occupy Central’ campaign”, quoting King III as saying: “be unrelenting in fighting the battle until you can get the kind of just governing structure you want (in Hong Kong)”. Regrettably, in the news report, King III did not elucidate his reasons for his endorsement of the campaign. Nor did he explain why the governing structure is unjust in Hong Kong.
Undeniably, Apple Daily journalists did an admirable job in traveling a long way to interview King III in person to mark the 50th anniversary of his father’s famous “I have a dream” speech. But, did the journalist give King III sufficient background information about the evolution of Hong Kong’s political systems and Tai’s notions of democracy during the interview? Was King III able to make a fair assessment of Tai’s proposed campaign with his limited knowledge of Hong Kong? I really doubt it. King III’s ignorance about Hong Kong politics has greatly called into question his approval of the “Occupy” campaign. The journalists, exploiting his “sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”, effortlessly misled King III into saying what they wanted to legitimize Tai’s political agenda in line with the newspaper’s anti-Beijing ideology.
Is Tai’s “Occupy” campaign really comparable with the civil rights movement launched by Martin Luther King Jr, as Tai and Apply Daily suggested? Is current social injustice in Hong Kong akin to the American social ills in the 1950s? Nothing, in fact, is more inapt than this comparison.
To begin with, King III in the interview spoke of, “the Montgomery Bus Boycott” to analyze the injustice of the 1950s epitomized by the policy of racial segregation on the Montgomery public transit system, which dictated that black passengers fill seats from the back, whereas white passengers fill those from the front. It was this social and racial injustice which motivated his father to embark on his non-violent resistance to the US government.
It is common knowledge that injustice in the 20th century depicted by King III does not exist in today’s Hong Kong. Our HKSAR government has never segregated or discriminated against any citizens in public on the grounds of race or political stances. By contrast, it was the British colonial government that once barred the ethnic Chinese from living on The Peak, a mountain on Hong Kong Island. Likewise, it was the British officials who reportedly kept locals with pro-Chinese Communist or Kuomintang stances from joining the civil service before 1997. Sadly, during the colonial period, Benny Tai and other Beijing bashers never launched a civil disobedience movement in defiance of the British racial and political hegemony by modeling themselves on Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi.
It is not until 2013, 16 years after Hong Kong’s handover to China, that Tai and his followers, in the name of civil disobedience, proposed the “Occupy” campaign against those who would disapprove of their ideas about “universal suffrage”. But, what Tai is proposing is actually not a civil rights movement similar to the one launched by Martin Luther King Jr. On the contrary, it is an undemocratic campaign which disregards the fusion of different opinions, making Hong Kong society politically segregated, divided and stifling.
A telling example is a forum organized by Tai on June 9. Grossly distorting the concept of “Deliberation Day” proposed by the American political scientists James Fishkin and Bruce Ackerman, he invited almost 700 citizens to attend the forum on preparations for their “civil disobedience movement”. It was in the forum that Tai segregated the participants on the grounds of their political stances. For instance, if one opposed Tai’s “Occupy” campaign, he or she would be deprived of the right to sign up for the forum. Like Rosa Parks, he or she was woefully barred from taking a seat reserved exclusively for Tai’s supporters in the forum.
Clearly, it is not the HKSAR government, but Tai, who has abrasively segregated and discriminated against people on the grounds of their political positions. It is indeed ironic that the son of Martin Luther King Jr, a vocal critic of the policy of segregation, is endorsing a Hong Kong campaign which has politically, although not racially, segregated people.