Unethical Quote Of The Week (Or “Just Because He’s A Civil Rights Icon Doesn’t Mean He Won’t Lie His Head Off”): Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)

"When John Didn't Meet Bernie"

“When John Didn’t Meet Bernie”

“I never saw him. I never met him. I was involved in the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed the Voter Education Project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.”

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), 76, civil rights icon, Martin Luther King ally, and Hillary Clinton supporter, challenging Bernie Sanders’ civil rights bona fides during the press conference by the Congressional Black Caucus  endorsing Clinton.

Really? He saw Hillary and Bill at those events? Now, Lewis could have seen Sanders, since Bernie was an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at the University of Chicago when Martin Luther King  and Lewis spoke there in 1963.  Hillary’s mother had young Hillary with her when she met  King  in Chicago in 1962. Hillary was 15. Maybe Lewis remembers meeting her then, but that was hardly substantive evidence of civil rights commitment. As for Bill,  we have this testimony from Lewis in Janis F. Kearney’s  Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton : from Hope to Harlem:

The first time I heard of Bill Clinton was in the early ’70s. I was living in Georgia, working for the Southern Poverty Law organization, when someone told me about this young, emerging leader in Arkansas who served as attorney general, then later became governor….I think I paid more attention to him at the 1988 Democratic Convention, when he was asked to introduce the presidential candidate and took up far more time than was allotted to him. After he became involved with the Democratic Leadership Council, I would run into him from time to time. But it was one of his aides, Rodney Slater, who actually introduced us in 1991 and asked me if I would support his presidency.

Hillary isn’t mentioned at all. I haven’t seen any evidence that she was at Selma or the March on Washington: was she? Would Lewis remember that he “saw” the then Republican teen and “Goldwater Girl” if he “saw” her?

He’s denigrating Sanders’ record and lying to do it.

We should expect better conduct from “icons.”

16 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Week (Or “Just Because He’s A Civil Rights Icon Doesn’t Mean He Won’t Lie His Head Off”): Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)

  1. “I never saw him. I never met him. I was involved in the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed the Voter Education Project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.”

    A series of random statements. Authentic Frontier Gibberish.

    • It’s not random at all, though it is certainly Authentic Frontier Gibberish.

      “I never saw him. I never met him.”

      The key thesis of his claim. The claim is unsupported, and we have nothing but his word whether he’s lying or truthful. In fact, it’s impossible for even him to know for sure, without evidence, whether or not he met Sanders in that time – the mind has a funny way of working to confirm its own biases and beliefs.

      “I was involved… for six years”

      These statements, taken together, are not a random tangent but a polishing of his bona fides and an irrelevant appeal to authority (in this case, he is the authority). We’re supposed to take him at his word in the here and now, without any proof, because he was a leader in the original Civil Rights Movement. These statements are also meant to put the audience in a specific state of mind, creating an implied time reference for the statements that precede and follow them, without the connective grammatical structures that would turn his statements into a claim that could be proven or disproven.

      “But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.”

      This could mean anything, and I suspect his words are carefully chosen to be deceitful – they’re technically true; he has met the Clintons. However, they give an untruthful impression that they were active in the 60’s civil rights movement. On the other hand, he could legitimately remember it this way – again, the mind is a funny thing in that way, and subconscious cues and biases easily influence the memory. I doubt it though. I think he’s just lying for Clinton.

      • Me too, and it’s pretty disgusting for a revered hero to African American to abuse his position like that. I almost posted on the awful comments slamming Sanders by Rep. Meeks of Queens:

        “You go through her record, time and time again, you see she’s been right on the issues important to the African-American community…His record on guns is very troubling. Bernie Sanders voted to protect the gun manufacturers. That’s a problem….Cornel West [a Sanders supporter] is one of the biggest critics of Barack Obama. People like him don’t acknowledge all the good work he’s done.These are all critics of Barack Obama, which means Sanders is a big critic of Barack Obama….Who do they represent? Members of the Congressional Black Caucus can say we’re elected from the black community. Who’s Cornel West? Who does he represent?..

        “They are revisionist [Speaking of black critics of President Clinton]…You talk about the whole picture, income inequality. All those gaps for African-Americans began to shrink under the Clinton administration. The wealth gap was closing, so much so that Toni Morrison said Bill Clinton was our first black president.”

        Talk about gibberish!

        1. Opposing an unconstitutional law to hold gun manufacturers liable when criminals use their products is anti-black? What a moronic argument.

        2. If a supporter of Sanders is critical of Obama, then that must mean that Sanders is? Good logical process there..

        3. What “good work”? Can he name some?

        4. If a President has done something right, a critic has to refuse to focus on botches? President Bush was spectacular in assisting Africa–does that mean that Meeks can’t criticize him?

        5. Cornel West is a scholar and writer, not one of my favorites, but about six times brighter than this guy. So the fact that someone is elected makes them by definition an authority on…anything?

        6. Wait—all these gaps have been widening again under President Obama. Let’s talk about that “good work’ again..

        7. Worst argument of the year so far: The fact that Toni Morrison made the idiotic statement about Clinton means he was a great President for blacks.

        I’m trying to think of the last time the CBC wasn’t an embarrassment.

        • After digesting that mind-destroying statement, I’ll take your responses point by point.

          1) Of course it’s moronic, but a certain wing of the far left believes that any support for guns at all is anti-black, in part because of the false narrative of black people being gunned down in the street. It’s a tenuous connection, but there is a certain method to the madness.

          2) This sort of silly reasoning is used against Sanders any time his rather overenthusiastic (to put it lightly) supporters differ from him. For example, the ‘Bernie Bros’ meme coming from the Clinton camp and her enablers in the media, trying to tie him to supporters he’s actively disavowed. It’s all pure guilt by association.

          I think there’s a more damning part of that statement, though. “Who do they represent?”, which is repeated in 5, and I’ll get back to it there.

          3) I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole.

          4) They can if they’re a disingenuous single-issue zealot. Kind of like the same people who support Clinton because she’s a woman, without caring about her qualifications. Or the sorts who would vote for Charles Manson if he was pro-gun.

          5) As I pointed out in 2, you’re burying the lede here, which is the statement “Who does he represent?”. It betrays a serious superiority complex. I’d turn that around and ask the honorable congresscritter who he thinks HE represents. I’m sure there are plenty of Sanders supporters in his constituency, and Trump supporters for that matter. Is he saying they don’t deserve to have a voice?

          7) I’ll admit I actually had to look up Prof. Morrison. It’s telling that Meeks is actually using her quote out of context and to mean something entirely different from what Prof. Morrison meant. From Wikipedia:

          “In the context of the 2008 Democratic Primary campaign, Morrison stated to Time magazine: “People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race.”[33] In the Democratic primary contest for the 2008 presidential race, Morrison endorsed Senator Barack Obama over Senator Hillary Clinton,[34] though expressing admiration and respect for the latter.[35]”


          33 Sachs, Andrea.”10 Questions for Toni Morrison”, Time, May 7, 2008.
          Jump up ^ “Headlines for January 29, 2008”. Democracy Now!. 2008-01-29. Retrieved May 30, 2012.

          34 “Headlines for January 29, 2008″. Democracy Now!. 2008-01-29. Retrieved May 30, 2012.

          35 Alexander, Elizabeth.”Our first black president? It’s worth remembering the context of Toni Morrison’s famous phrase about Bill Clinton, so we can retire it, now that Barack Obama is a contender”, Salon.com, January 28, 2008.

          • That means Toni’s comment was even dumber than I thought, though she was backtracking badly. She also was factually, legally and ethically wrong. Nobody was sending Clinton to jail: the public has a right to decide anyone’s guilty based on what it knows.

            • I’d simply add that the Congress person’s statement clearly (at least to me) reads as if it was written by a Clinton campaign operative. These aren’t talking points, this is a prepared speech the Congress person is simply reading, or releasing as if it’s a PR release. Which is terrible. Politicians willingly turning themselves into sock puppets is embarrassing.

              • And I agree, CD, the John Lewis “statement” only appears to be random at first glance. Taken together, the series of sentences are intentional misdirection.

  2. The other side of this is the Sanders’ supporters passing around a meme that touts Sanders support of civil rights and points out that Clinton supported Barry Goldwater, and that Goldwater voted against the 1967 civil rights act. They fail to mention that she was just 16 years old at the time. lol

    The democratic party is doing its best to tear itself apart.

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