Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is how it works. America makes civil rights progress in long, painful battles that pit liberal forces for change against conservative forces for maintaining the status quo. For asking that America treat its citizens more equally, or more fairly, or with more justice the liberal voices are demonized as communists or socialists, declared to be criminal elements, lambasted in speeches and at hearings called by congressional conservative leaders, "exposed" in salacious conservative news stories purporting to have discovered true malevolence lying underneath their supposedly noble ideas, are often met by conservative rioters, are sometimes shot at, and are sometimes murdered outright.
Then the change they sought goes into affect and, a few decades later, the liberal icon is held up as one of history's greatest Americans in a conservative debate by conservative politicians seeking to out-conservative one another.
During the second GOP presidential debate Wednesday night, Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) said they would be open to putting civil rights activist Rosa Parks on the $10 bill. But the Republican candidates might be surprised to learn that Parks sat on the national board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, one of the GOP’s biggest political enemies.
And there is of course no way any of these fine tools would possibly know that, because what Rosa Parks actually believed or did has been entirely beside the point for a good long time now. Most people who have heard about What Rosa Parks Did believe that the lone black American woman, in a fit of spontaneous pique, simply decided that she liked the seat she was sitting on and had had entirely enough of having to get up and move to another one. In reality Parks was an active member of the civil rights movement, was secretary of the Montgomery NAACP, and with other local and national civil rights leaders deftly maneuvered her arrest into international coverage and, eventually, the desired changes to the law. She went on to fight against housing discrimination and against police abuse of minorities—you might call her a founding member of the Black Lives Matter movement, if you wanted to twist the dagger into conservative ribs a little deeper. And yes, she sat on the national board of Planned Parenthood.
None of this comes up, of course, because what Rosa Parks stood for was long ago whittled down to the bare necessities. She helped fight against segregation; since any political figure worth their salt now considers segregation to have been a Bad Thing, she is granted heroine status for that role, and all the pesky details about how she helped do that, or who her accomplices were, or (pointedly) who her most vociferous enemies were need to be cast aside if respectable conservatives are going to showcase their eminent reasonableness by declaring their admiration of her now.
In all the conservative odes to American civil rights icon Rosa Parks, I have never heard a single one note that her enemies were, in fact, conservatives. That everything she fought against were things supported, and demanded, by conservative forces of the time. It would do the movement few favors, after all, to point out that conservatism has from then until now at every point in time been a force of segregation, suspicion, bigotry and racism, a force so strong that it fractured and rebuilt America's political parties wholesale and still came out waving the same Confederate flags on the other side. So no, it's not at all surprising that Ted Cruz can go back and forth between praising Rosa Parks, advocate of civil rights, and frothing demonization of her own causes. She is no longer alive; she won't be correcting him.