Tag Archives: civil rights

Trump’s absence: the ‘new normal’?

As I have sought to process the day’s big event, the funeral of civil rights hero/icon/legend John Lewis, I pondered the absence of one individual who one could have presumed should have been there.

Donald J. Trump was not in Atlanta today to pay tribute to John Lewis, the former congressman and human rights activist who died at age 80 of pancreatic cancer. Oh, no. Trump was in Washington, tweeting messages seeking to undermine the voting rights gains for which Lewis fought, and bled.

It’s becoming something of a “new normal” in this Age of Trump as president of the United States. He was disinvited to the funeral of U.S. Sen. John McCain. Trump attended the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, but we didn’t hear a word from him. Now, the Lewis funeral. Trump declared he had no intention of honoring Lewis while he lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

I thought about past funerals of high-profile political figures. I recalled the presence of President Lyndon Johnson at the funeral of a man he hated beyond measure, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. I remembered the funeral of President Richard Nixon and recalled one of the tributes paid to him by President Bill Clinton, who told us that we must not judge his predecessor’s public life by just one episode, but by its entire history. I remember, too, when former Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower patched up their bitter differences while attending the funeral of their successor, President John F. Kennedy. The two old war horses realized in that moment that life was too short and too precious for them to continue hating each other.

Donald Trump clearly would not have been welcomed at John Lewis’s funeral. He once chided Lewis for supposedly being “all talk and no action.” Trump ignored the beatings that Lewis endured while seeking to guarantee the rights of black Americans to vote in free and fair elections.

So it fell to three of Trump’s predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to speak of their friend and a man who will be remembered as a legend in his own time … and beyond. 

Donald Trump? He was left to sulk in the background.

Master of Hideous Timing

Leave it to Donald J. “Master of Hideous Timing in Chief” Trump to demonstrate once again how low he can go even in a moment of national mourning over the death of a civil rights icon.

While Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama today were eulogizing the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis for the struggle he waged to obtain equal rights and justice for all Americans, Trump took to Twitter tell us how he intends to do all he can to suppress people’s right to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

The juxtaposition of those two things — the farewell to Rep. Lewis and Trump’s Twitter tirade — is unspeakable in its hideousness.

Trump’s tirade tells me all I need to know — as if I didn’t know it already — about the how callow, callous and crass the president can get, even as the nation says farewell to a hero of the civil rights movement.

John Lewis’s friends and family bid adieu to the champion, reminding us how he sought to create “good trouble” for the cause of freedom and liberty. He fought — quite literally, I should add — for the right of all Americans to have equal voting rights. Lewis paid for that struggle with his own blood, shed in that Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

Donald Trump once chided Lewis as being a man of “all talk and no action.” That such a ridiculous criticism would come from someone who avoided military service during the Vietnam War simply illustrates the president’s utter shamelessness.

And so Donald Trump was at it again today, blasting out Twitter messages seeking to denigrate the voting rights struggle led by a man who was being laid to rest in that very moment.

As they say, timing is everything, for better … or for worse.

No honor for Lewis from Trump … and no salute to his greatness

Donald Trump won’t pay his respects to the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

The president detested the civil rights icon. I suppose it’s fair to point out that Lewis felt likewise toward Trump.

However, it boggles my noggin that Donald Trump cannot even muster up any semblance of decency to make a statement saluting the sacrifice Lewis made in the fight for equality and justice for all Americans.

Lewis bled in Selma, Ala., while marching for voting rights for African-Americans. Alabama police beat Lewis to a pulp, cracking his skull. He fought a valiant — and ultimately successful — battle to obtain equal rights for African-American citizens. He engaged in “good trouble, responsible trouble.”

The president of the United States cannot offer a statement to salute this good man’s history-changing legacy?


What will happen when that time comes?

REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

I have a number of clever, astute and erudite Facebook friends who are unafraid to comment on political matters.

Les is one of them. He writes today:

President Trump declared today that he was not going to pay respects to John Lewis, lying in state at the Capitol, and then left for a tour of a North Carolina factory and another COVID briefing. I hope he understands that he has set a no-show precedent for when he is on display in the Rotunda and no one visits.

There you go. Donald Trump will not physically honor the life and contributions of one of the final great civil rights titans to pass from the scene.

The late John Lewis is lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda, the first African-American lawmaker ever to receive the honor.

Trump won’t stand before Lewis’s flag-draped casket. He won’t pretend to say a prayer in Lewis’s memory. He won’t pose for pictures that no doubt would be snapped by photographers gathered to watch the symbolic act.

I know that Trump and Lewis were enemies. Indeed, Trump sees every political foe as an enemy. They aren’t just opponents in this clown’s view. When someone makes a critical remark on the way Trump is doing his job as the nation’s top elected public official, he takes it personally. Lewis certainly offered his share of critical remarks. Therefore, Trump won’t do what is right.

What’s more — and this cannot be ignored in this political season — Trump is sticking a proverbial political dagger in his own heart by enraging black voters who expect the president to pay his respects to a man of such heroic stature. Then again, Trump the Politician likely figures, to borrow a phrase: What do I have to lose?

My friend, though, makes note of what might lie ahead when Donald Trump no longer is with us. He would be a former president of the United States. He would be entitled to lie in state as many former presidents have been honored since the founding of the republic.

Surely, a former president such as Trump would be able to attract someone — anyone — who would pay their respects to him once he has departed this good Earth?

No surprise that POTUS would be muted in honoring this icon

I am not surprised in the least that Donald Trump has been so reticent in honoring the life of the late civil rights icon John Lewis.

Yes, he offered a brief statement via Twitter, offering thoughts and prayers for “he and his family.”

Other presidents have been much more, um, fulsome in their praise for the hard work and the blood that Lewis shed on behalf of justice and civil rights. Presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama all spoke with heartfelt anguish at Lewis’s death. Trump? Well, he didn’t go there. He isn’t wired that way. Trump isn’t equipped with the rhetorical tools one can find even in politicians who disagree with other politicians.

Oh, no. Not this guy.

Indeed, Lewis and Trump did get into a nasty spat a couple of years ago. Lewis referred to Trump as an “illegitimate president,” because of the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump called Lewis a man who is all talk and no action; I guess Trump forgot about the time Lewis had his skull fractured by the police during a civil-rights march in Selma, Ala.

This, I submit, is another failing of Donald Trump. A president who feels aggrieved by a political foe surely could set aside those grievances and offer a significant tribute that recognizes that foe’s contributions to the social fabric, not to mention the political life of the nation we all love.

Isn’t that part of the job, Mr. President?

Another icon passes from scene

Americans have been yanked into a long-held reality with the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police officers, which is that justice too often is applied unevenly in this country.

So now, here we are. The nation is mourning a giant of a great cause to bring equal justice, equal rights to all citizens. John Lewis has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years of age.

U.S. Rep. Lewis comes from an era of great struggle. It was a violent time and Lewis, tragically, was the victim of that violence. Police in Alabama beat Lewis to a pulp as he marched along with other black citizens for equal rights. He recovered. Lewis continued to stand tall alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young and other activists of the time seeking justice and liberty for all Americans … regardless of their racial makeup.

“He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise,” former President Barack Obama wrote in his statement. “And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.”

Lewis took his struggle to the floor of the U.S. House, where he served with honor representing the people of Georgia as a Democratic congressman.

Andrew Young also rose to prominence as well, becoming U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta. He spoke today of his friend’s death and the belief that despite the deaths of so many great civil rights icons, their work and their legacies live on.

The live through their spirit that remains among us, Young said.

So it will be as the nation gets past its time of mourning the death of a real-life, authentic American hero.

Rest in peace, Rep. Lewis. You have done well, but the hard work will continue in your memory.

Trump alienating his own party

The Lincoln Project has risen to speak out.

So has a coalition of staffers who once worked for Republican President George W. Bush.

Ditto for any number of conservative thinkers/pundits/commentators.

There might even be some hidden Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate ready to bolt.

What do they have in common? They are speaking collectively against a man who calls himself a Republican, but who has no affiliation, understanding or appreciation of what used to be considered basic Republican Party principles.

Donald J. Trump’s re-election appears to be in trouble … at this moment! Yes, that could change. I mean, this guy has managed to survive some of the more hideous faux paus in recent memory. He has held on to that base of support. He told us he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue” and not lose any votes; many of us cringed when he said that, but there is a distressing belief that he might have been correct.

The Lincoln Project, of course, is named after President Lincoln, one of the nation’s great Republican presidents. They used to call the GOP the Party of Lincoln. It has become the Cult of Trump.

The party that once was the champion of civil rights for all Americans, whose senators enabled a Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, to push landmark civil rights legislation through Congress, has become unrecognizable to President Lincoln. It has coalesced behind an individual with no discernible moral compass, no philosophical guidepost.

Thus, tried-and-true real Republicans are locking arms in the hope of defeating this GOP imposter. Whether they belong to an actual organization such as the Lincoln Project, or are a loosely held gang of former GOP presidential aides, they seem to stand for a single cause: defeating Donald Trump.

What’s more — and this is truly astonishing — they are standing publicly and loudly in favor of a Democratic candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. One finds occasionally during every election cycle a notable partisan or two who might abandon the candidate of his or her party, but who cannot endorse anyone on the other side. That’s not happening these days.

My biggest concern at this point — given my own often-stated loathing of Donald Trump — is whether any of this will translate to tangible support when the election rolls around.

I merely want to caution everyone that Donald Trump was losing badly to Hillary Clinton at this point of the 2016 campaign. Then the wheels flew off the Clinton campaign. If there’s a lesson for the Biden team to glean from that effort it is that the 2020 Democratic nominee needs to avoid repeating the goofs that doomed an effort that fooled every political pundit in the land.

KKK = Confederate flag

I cannot let this photo stand without offering a brief comment about the juxtaposition of two key elements this picture contains.

Look at the fellow gesturing. He is a Ku Klux Klansman demonstrating in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., the site of that terrible riot that killed a young woman protesting against the Klan, neo-Nazis and assorted white supremacists.

Now, look at the flags flying behind him. Do you see a familiar pattern? It’s the Confederate flag, the piece of cloth that some Americans want to keep displaying in public places because it “symbolizes heritage” and is a “piece of American history.”

It seems to be lost on those pro-Rebel flag folks that the KKK stands with that flag because of what it represents: the maintaining of slavery in states that seceded from the Union in 1861 and launched the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history. Then again, maybe it isn’t lost on them at all!

The Confederate flag represents the very thing that the moron seen in this picture snapped by the New York Post represents.

It represents oppression, which my reading of history tells me caused our founders to create this nation in the first place, to live in a place free of the kind of oppression symbolized by the Confederate flag.

Spare me, then, the clap-trap about “history” and “heritage.”

Mob mentality exhibiting its ugliness

George Floyd is the latest in a long and distressing line of African-Americans who have fallen victim to police cruelty. I’ve seen the video of the Minneapolis cop pressing his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck, watching him pass out after pleading with the officer to release him because he couldn’t breathe.

Floyd’s death has sparked justifiable outrage and anger among many Americans, black and white.

However … I want to speak about the mob mentality that has overwhelmed Minneapolis. We are witnessing the worst possible way to call for “justice” for George Floyd, who died day after being manhandled by the cops.

The Minneapolis Police Department fired the four officers immediately after the incident. That isn’t enough. There needs to be a thorough investigation into whether they committed a prosecutable crime. I am inclined to believe they did.

The rioting, looting and, yes, the reported death of a resident in all the mayhem is what I want to address here.

Civilized human beings never should destroy property to supposedly protest an injustice that has been done. The scenes of the fires, the smashing of motor vehicle windows, the theft of items by looters does not advance a single noble notion if society is going to put an end to the type of conduct we have witnessed — yet again — by law enforcement officers against an American citizen.

I am sickened by what we have all seen prior to George Floyd’s death. He wasn’t resisting arrest for a non-violent crime. He was, as I saw it, killed by an officer who went far beyond what is normal and humane.

I also am sickened by the sight of the looting, vandalism, mayhem and outrageous behavior of citizens who are doing far more harm than good in their quest for justice.

I fear they might have dishonored the memory of George Floyd.

Justice can be found, but not this way.

Yes, Rep. Lewis, your nation prays for you

If there is a politician in this country who is more revered than U.S. Rep. John Lewis, well … I don’t know who that would be.

Lewis is a civil rights icon and I use the term with all the heft that accompanies it. He stood with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He has been beaten nearly to death by police officers as he sought to mount “civil” protests for the cause of civil and human rights. He has served his congressional district in Georgia with distinction and honor for more than three decades.

He now is fighting Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He has drawn words of encouragement from House colleagues and two former presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Rep. Lewis said this when announcing his diagnosis:

“I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.

“This month in a routine medical visit, and subsequent tests, doctors discovered Stage IV pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis has been reconfirmed.

“While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of cancer treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance. 

“So I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community. We still have many bridges to cross. 

“To my constituents: being your representative in Congress is the honor of a lifetime. I will return to Washington in coming days to continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which will occur over the next several weeks. I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon. 

“Please keep me in your prayers as I begin this journey.”

Yes, Rep. Lewis, many millions of your fellow Americans will keep you in our prayers.