Tucker Carlson discussed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in light of explosive recently unearthed allegations with University of Maryland professor Jason Nichols.
The allegations, detailed on Thursday by Pulitzer Prize-winning King biographer David Garrow in an article for the British magazine “Standpoint”, came from the historian’s research into recently released FBI surveillance notes on the noted civil rights legend. The most shocking, that King allegedly “looked on, laughed and offered advice” while a pastor friend raped a parishioner in January 1964 at Washington, D.C.’s historic Willard Hotel, could pose a “fundamental” challenge to King’s “historical stature,” according to Garrow.
Carlson began his conversation with Nichols by taking a “different position” than what he thought the professor “might expect.”
“We have seen a whole bunch of different heroes in American dethroned and in some cases literally statues knocked over, Thomas Jefferson [is a] great example,” Carlson said. “Does this – I’m assuming all of this is true because we knew some of it before – Should it really change how we view Martin Luther King in his role in American history? Should we knock his statues down because of this? I don’t think we should.”
Nichols began his response by questioning the “assumption that this is true” based on the fact that several publications turned down Garrow’s proposal “because the evidence wasn’t solid” and based on FBI memos and biased COINTELPRO who “wanted to destroy Dr. King.”
The Fox News host granted Nichols’ point, but pointed out that King was still “deeply flawed and was a philanderer.”
“Should we define a man’s life by his worst moments, or should we take three steps back and assess his place in the sweep of history, and I’m making the case on behalf of Thomas Jefferson as well as Martin Luther King,” Carlson said. “Could the standard apply to both of them?”
Nichols responded by contending that King’s statues should not be removed, but also offered an alternative to those who might not be “comfortable with Dr. King’s image.” (RELATED: Martin Luther King, Jr. Was An Economic Illiterate. So Is The Pope)
But, I think one of the things about Dr. King, as great as he was and he is one of my personal heroes, one of the things about him is a lot of times his image obscures so many other people in the civil rights movement, and I would say actually the most important person to the civil rights movement was not Dr. King. It was Ella Baker. So I think if anything if you want to change some things, if some people in a particular community are not comfortable with Dr. King’s image, then they should put up other civil rights heroes, particularly local civil rights heroes.
“We have a Martin Luther King boulevard in every city in America. Why not have, you know, an Ella baker Boulevard?” Nichols asked.
Tucker brought up the allegation that Jefferson “fathered a child with Sally Hemmings.”
“They will say that but they will kind of leave out the fact that he created the United States,” said the Fox News host. “Should your kids also learn that the most important thing about Martin Luther King is that he had a weird personal life? I don’t think they should. That’s vandalism, isn’t it?”
Nichols seemed to end the segment on a note of agreement with Tucker.
“I certainly believe that we should learn about the good things and also not leave out the bad things,” he said.