After the panic, we should ponder what we're losing.
August 28, 2013.
At the Ceremony Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, President Barack Obama said:
We rightly and best remember Dr. King’s soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions; how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.I want you to note who Obama mentions in the fourth paragraph - that would be Representative John Lewis of the Georgia fifth congressional district.
But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV. Many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters. They lived in towns where they couldn’t vote and cities where their votes didn’t matter. They were couples in love who couldn’t marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home. They had seen loved ones beaten, and children fire-hosed, and they had every reason to lash out in anger, or resign themselves to a bitter fate.
And yet they chose a different path. In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in, with the moral force of nonviolence. Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs. A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us. They had learned through hard experience what Frederick Douglass once taught -- that freedom is not given, it must be won, through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith.
That was the spirit they brought here that day. That was the spirit young people like John Lewis brought to that day. That was the spirit that they carried with them, like a torch, back to their cities and their neighborhoods. That steady flame of conscience and courage that would sustain them through the campaigns to come -- through boycotts and voter registration drives and smaller marches far from the spotlight; through the loss of four little girls in Birmingham, and the carnage of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the agony of Dallas and California and Memphis. Through setbacks and heartbreaks and gnawing doubt, that flame of justice flickered; it never died.
And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, a Civil Rights law was passed. Because they marched, a Voting Rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else’s laundry or shining somebody else’s shoes. Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed, and Congress changed, and, yes, eventually, the White House changed.
Because they marched, America became more free and more fair...
You can watch his speech at that march in 1963 here (transcript can be found here).
A few days ago in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, Lewis said this of Donald Trump:
CHUCK TODD: You have forged relationships with many presidents. Do you plan on trying to forge a relationship with Donald Trump?A few minutes later, Chuck Todd said:
REP. JOHN LEWIS: You know, I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.
CHUCK TODD: You do not consider him a legitimate president?
REP. JOHN LEWIS: No --
CHUCK TODD: Why is that?
REP. JOHN LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don't plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I miss since I've been in the Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.
A day after Congressman John Lewis told me he doesn't believe Trump is a legitimately elected president, Trump responded, tweeting "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime-infested, rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk, no action or results. Sad."You'll note Lewis wasn't "falsely complaining" about anything. It's simply a fact that a Russian intelligence operation influenced the 2016 Presidential Election. The US Intelligence Community says so. (So that's a lie. And saying that the Georgia 5th is "in horrible shape" is, in itself, a racist smear.)
In any event, for Representative Lewis (and a lot of other people as well) Russian interference with what should've been an open election is enough to call into question the legitimacy of the Trump presidency. Forever
In any event, in the spirit of what President Obama said in 2013, what Representative John Lewis said a few days ago and what Donald Trump said a few hours later, I want to point out that:
President-elect Donald Trump canceled plans to spend Martin Luther King Day at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture — losing a chance for much-needed goodwill after his feud with a civil rights leader."Scheduling issues" keeping Trump away from the museum on Martin Luther King Day.
The incoming president, who spent this weekend waging a war of words with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), had planned to visit the national museum in Washington, D.C. on Martin Luther King Day.
But senior level transition sources told ABC News on Sunday the visit was called off due to unspecified “scheduling issues.”
I'll leave it to you, now, to ponder the America we've had for the last 8 years and the America we will have for the next 4.