Thursday, February 11, 2016

Shame on John Lewis!

Shame on John Lewis! His comments today prove he is nothing more than a political shill bought and paid for by the Clinton machine. This is how political cronyism works. Backroom politics at its finest – you grease my hand and I’ll grease yours. This so-called hero of the civil rights movement was a young black man who got beat up protesting for civil rights. Guess what? A lot of young black men got beat up protesting for civil rights, doused with fire hoses, bitten by police dogs, and attacked by racist Southern cops. These black men were fighting for their own civil liberties; it was personal, and they had everything to gain. But there were many young white men who also risked – and in some cases lost – their lives fighting for black civil rights. These young white men had nothing to gain for themselves. They weren’t fighting out of personal interest – they already had civil rights – but out of altruism. They were protesting against an unjust social order and discriminatory laws. These young white men drove from their safe, comfortable homes in northern states to the highly volatile, deadly Southern hotbed of segregation and racial strife and put their safety and lives on the line to help bring about a political revolution so that black men and women today would have the same rights as white people, including the right to vote.

Bernie Sanders was one of those young white men. Unlike John Lewis, he wasn’t fighting for his own civil rights; he was fighting for the rights of people like John Lewis. Bernie Sanders was active in two of the most prominent civil rights organizations in the 1960s: the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In fact, Bernie Sanders was president of his university's CORE chapter. Under Sanders’ leadership, the CORE group at the University of Chicago joined with SNCC’s campus chapter, held sit-ins to protest segregation in university-owned apartment buildings, and raised money for voter registration efforts focused on blacks. Bernie Sanders wasn’t protesting because he was going to get something out of it; he was there because he knew it was the morally right thing to do. Bernie Sanders was arrested for protesting to secure John Lewis’ civil rights; if John Lewis didn’t see him, maybe it was because they weren’t sharing the same jail cell. Bernie Sanders was arrested in 1962 for protesting against segregation in Chicago’s public schools. He isn’t just talking the talk; Bernie Sanders walked the walk.

John Lewis had the chutzpah to go on TV today and say in support of the Clinton campaign “Well, to be very frank, I'm going to cut you off, but I never saw him, I never met him,” Lewis told a reporter. “I'm a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and directed their voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.”

I’m sure there were a lot of people, hundreds of thousands if not millions actively involved in the civil rights movement, whom John Lewis never met. But to denigrate their commitment, their passion, and their efforts in the name of a political campaign is, to be very frank, shameful.

I’ve supported civil rights my entire life and I have stories from the 60s and beyond that I could share to support that statement. But the funny thing is, in all that time, I’ve never once met John Lewis. And after his comments today, I don’t want to.

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