Web site uses MLK name to attack him
Type the name “Martin Luther King” into the popular Google Internet search engine, and find a surprise: among the expected university and newspaper links, one site — the third highest ranked link — stands out.
It attacks the personal life of the slain civil rights leader and, by extension, the movement of nonviolence he championed. It rehashes allegations of plagiarism and adultery and accuses King of fraud, claiming he was not a “legitimate reverend” or “bonafide Ph.D.” It also invites visitors to learn about civil rights by reading the work of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
The site, martinlutherking.org, is run by a white supremacist group called Stormfront, described by one watchdog organization as the largest “hate group” online. It has used King’s name for its Web address since 1999.Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech
King’s heirs, who have aggressively defended his name from unauthorized exploitation, have known about the Stormfront site for more than two years. A reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first asked King family representatives about it in early 2006.
Isaac Newton Farris Jr., King’s nephew and head of the nonprofit King Center in Atlanta, said he’d sent the site’s operator threatening letters and offers of money to shut it down since then, but that they were ignored. Farris said he consulted lawyers, but has not approved filing a lawsuit.
“You never authorize a lawyer to do whatever it takes because that could be a black hole,” he said. “But we definitely asked them to look into it.”
Stormfront’s leader, Don Black, did not return recent phone calls seeking comment for this article.
Meanwhile, activity on a Stormfront Web forum linked to the site has grown, more than doubling since early 2006. Visits to the site jump each year around the King holiday, according to the San Francisco firm Alexa Internet, which tracks Web traffic. It also spiked in November after the presidential election.
The site continues to rank high on Google — even ahead of the King Center’s own Web site (www.thekingcenter.org).
Black went to federal prison in the 1980s for plotting the armed overthrow of the Caribbean nation of Dominica. The Stormfront leader previously has said that he hoped his Web site was reaching high school students “who are forced to parrot the liberal party line about King being a great leader.”
Black hews to a standard supremacist line: white people are losing power and he supports separating the races. “The United States was traditionally a white nation, and we have the right to preserve it,” he said. “If that makes me a racist, I am.”
In another interview last week, Farris said there isn’t much the King family can do about the Web site, in part because it’s an issue of free speech.
Many visitors to the site probably are curious children, said Mark Potok, who monitors hate groups for the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
“It’s meant to change people’s minds, particularly young people’s minds, about who Martin Luther King was and what his legacy is,” Potok said.
Potok described Stormfront as the largest Internet discussion space in the world for white supremacists. The group’s Web forum claims nearly 154,000 members, up from 72,000 in January 2006.