‘Crisis Actor’ Isn’t a New Smear. The Idea Goes Back to the Civil War Era.

“It’s a perennial theme of segregationists that this activism is not sincere, that it’s not Americans advocating for their own rights but rather it’s a scam,” Mr. Kruse said.

In his 1963 “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” defending nonviolent civil disobedience, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described the tactic as an effort to silence African-American voices.

“If our white brothers dismiss as ‘rabble rousers’ and ‘outside agitators’ those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies — a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare,” Dr. King wrote.

Politicians of…

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