Besides parades, tributes and social-media posts that miss the point, Martin Luther King Day is also a day for white politicians to pretend that the struggle is over.
MLK Day is particularly tough on North Carolina Republicans from urban districts, like Rep. Ted Budd, the congressman from the 13th District who spent the morning on Monday at the annual MLK breakfast held by the city.
This is a matter of public record, as Budd tweeted a couple photos of himself at the event, one with 6th District Rep. Mark Walker and another, more telling shot that probably shouldn’t have been made public.
At this one, Budd is seated at a table with another white guy and six or seven African-American women. As Budd and his pal smile for the photo, three of the women visible in the frame deliver withering looks at the man, a gesture known as “side-eye” that connotes skepticism and, perhaps, a little disdain.
It is, of course, unremarkable that Budd does not have many fans among African-American women — he’s voted along the Trump line 91.7 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. And Budd, who owns a gun shop in Rural Hall, is not really that popular in this part of his district anyway. Though he won his 2016 election in his carefully crafted district, he was outscored by challenger Bruce Davis by 20 points in Guilford County.
What is remarkable is that he greenlighted this meme-worthy photo for his social media account. It means that either he is not good at interpreting body language, or that he did not see these black women’s faces when he looked at the photo — he certainly seems blissfully unaware of them in the shot itself.
And that’s the problem with Ted Budd on MLK Day: He just doesn’t see them.