During a February 9 Radio Factor monologue about the Democratic Party’s classless comportment during Coretta Scott King’s funeral, Bill O’Reilly objected to an editorial in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution which suggested that Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King would have supported the denigration of President Bush at the ceremony, on the grounds that they were "radicals" who challenged the establishment as represented by figures such as Bush. O’Reilly insisted that Martin Luther King wasn’t a "radical," since "radicals" seek the destruction of certain aspects of society, and King merely sought into include blacks into the American mainstream.
With all due respect, O’Reilly’s wrong. King was, in fact, a "radical." Just like another historical figure whom folks don’t normally think of as "radical"–Ronald Reagan.
Both Reagan and King spoke truth to power, challenged the existing social order, and were fiercely criticized for demanding an end to the status quo. King’s "radical" vision entailed having Americans judged solely on their merits as individuals and not mistreated on the basis of their ethnicity. Reagan’s "radical" vision entailed liberating the world from the slavery of Communism and liberating Americans from the bondage of big government.
King’s declaration that men should be "judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" and Reagan’s declaration that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem" were clarion calls for individual liberty. Both men recognized that the whims of the state, left unrestrained, would interfere with the right of individuals to enjoy their God-given freedoms.
Freedom was the concept that motivated both men. Freedom was the idea that led both men to confront entrenched social evil. Freedom was the notion that made both men stand strong in the face of vituperative personal attacks from those who believed that the state always knew best.
King and Reagan were without question radicals, storming the ramparts to destroy aspects of society that they rightfully considered deleterious to human freedom–segregation in the case of the former, Communism and cradle-to-grave federal government in the case of the latter. It’s too bad that Nancy Reagan wasn’t a part of Mrs. King’s funeral, since she and Mrs. King were both married to iconic men who stood–and still stand–for the cause of liberty.