Radical Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the left needs to be “dangerous” like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and push extreme policy proposals such as Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal. But Project 21 member Nadra Enzi challenges her claim, saying that Dr. King was – unlike AOC – a “mainstream American” whose memory has been smeared by her suggestion.

Interviewed by left-wing essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates at an event marking the anniversary of Dr. King’s birth, Ocasio-Cortez made the odd assertion that “[w]e don’t have a ‘left party’ in the United States” to fight capitalism and call for vast economic upheaval. She declared that no billionaire “makes” wealth, but instead “takes” it from underpaid black, brown, female and illegal alien workers who really create it for them.

She claimed to be in alignment with Dr. King in pushing back against the idea that “we can capitalism our way out of poverty.” In doing so, she ignored the long-term trend of capitalism transforming society – ushering in technical innovations and creating infrastructure that has improved the living conditions, health and wealth of all people.

In calling out Ocasio-Cortez on her appropriation of Dr. King’s legacy, Nadra says:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was recently smeared by the infamous New York congresswoman when she said he’d disagree with establishment liberals who feel they can “capitalism” poor Americans out of poverty.

Dr. King surely challenged what is now called income inequality and, like President Richard Nixon, even floated an idea about universal basic income as a possible solution.

But the civil rights icon wasn’t a socialist. He was a mainstream American asking very hard questions about how economic opportunity was to be offered in a post-Jim Crow, desegregated society.

His noble goals were far above the smear applied by AOC.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.