This post was in my head and keeping me awake all night, so I had to get out of bed and get it out
I was just about to let the late John Lewis go, when a Facebook friend inflicted the late Congressman’s so-called “final words” on me with a post in Facebook that garnered bushels of likes and teary faces, immediately putting me into a quandary. The guy’s a lawyer, and should know better than to extol such transparent grandstanding, varnished over with dishonesty.
I almost—almost—wrote a searing rebuttal and reprimand. I didn’t, and it’s keeping me awake tonight. More on that in a moment.
First, regarding Lewis: I didn’t want to read his op-ed in the Times, knowing, as I knew Lewis’s routine well, that it would either make my head explode or make me want to blow it up. Writing such a thing itself is pure narcissism: Lewis was shuffling off this mortal coil with words designed to make those who do not know him, except by the dated accolades with which he has been celebrated by the fawning media, think he was a better man than he was, while making his detractors face being called racists if they call his piece out for what it is. This, for example, was nauseating:
In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
This is the same John Lewis who told NBC audiences the day before Martin Luther King Day and less than a week before the Inauguration that President-elect Donald J. Trump was “an illegitimate President.” In 2017, Ethics Alarms pronounced this “an unprecedented act of vicious partisanship and unethical public service.” I understated it. Lewis deliberately triggered the perpetual anti-democratic unrest that has led directly to today’s riots, toppled statues, and self-righteous hate. He isn’t the only public figure accountable for this, but he is the only one who assisted in tearing the nation apart while patting himself on the back as someone who has “done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love.”
“All,” Congressman? How about serving as an honorable example for citizens by accepting the leader chosen by our system as it has done for more than two centuries, and not deliberately encouraging an insurrection? How about that? How does creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that requires citizens and businesses to support a Marxist movement or risk being “cancelled” let freedom ring?
I had to wrestle my rebellious gorge to the ground and place my violently rolling eyes back in their sockets when I read this at the start of Lewis’ screed:
While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.
That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.
Emmett Till was my George Floyd. …
What inspired John Lewis is pure anti-white racism and creeping totalitarianism, cloaked in human rights rhetoric. Who, at this point, believes that the demonstrations/riots/vandalism in cities across the nation, calls to abolish police departments, prisons, and merit-based standards for everything from licensing lawyers to choosing symphony orchestra programs, and petitions to fire dissenting professors and business leaders are based on a concern for “human rights” rather than a thirst for power? Lewis’ original crusade, with Martin Luther King, was about human rights, but that was before Lewis was corrupted by access to power, perks, and people treating him like saint regardless of what he said or did.
“Laid down the burdens of division”? Was Lewis on the same planet as I am? The “movement” that made him so proud has been the greatest source of division in the country since the Civil War, yes, even more than Viet Nam or the civil rights movement. Authoring his own valedictory, John Lewis decided to join the current fad of wielding Rationalization 64, “It isn’t what it is.”
To be fair, he was doing it in the course of self-sanctification that could be fairly called, “I’m not who I am.”
The nadir in Lewis’s introduction should have been his pairing Black Lives Matter with the concept of “truth.” The organization is built on lies and deals in lies, the primary one being that it opposes racism when its objective is to enact policies and societal structures based on the racist assertion that all whites are racists and the United States of America keeps its knee on the throats of minorities.
Then Lewis declared George Floyd the equivalent of Emmet Till.
George Floyd’s death had virtually nothing in common with the lynching of Emmet Till, an innocent black teen whose capitol crime was being black and daring to interact with a white woman in public, in Mississippi. To begin with, there still is no evidence whatsoever that Floyd dies because he was black, or that racism was a factor in his death. “The truth goes matching on,” Lewis says, but the claim that Floyd was the victim of racism has nothing to support it except the facts that Derek Chauvin was white, Floyd was black, and Chauvin was a police officer. The “truth” according to Black Lives Matter, and apparently John Lews, is that if any black man dies at the hands of a white police officer, it’s systemic racism at work, because as that eminent BLM member Tiffany Haddish explains—I’m sure Lewis was proud of her, too—police hunt and kill blacks.
What else? Well, Till was lynched. There haven’t been any lynchings in the U.S. in more than half a century, so the strategic decision was made to characterize Floyd’s death as lynching. Till’s murder was intentional, first degree murder by any definition. Chauvin was almost certainly guilty of negligent homicide, but he was not trying to kill Floyd, if only because doing so would mean the end of his career at very least. Unlike Till, Floyd contributed to the circumstances of his death, allegedly engaging in a crime, being stoned in public, and resisting a lawful arrest. Till’s lynching in Mississippi in 1955 characterized the culture of a large swathe of the nation during the Jim Crow, era as JohnLewis knew as well as anyone. The immediate outrage over Chauvin’s brutality occurred because such conduct was not characteristic of the United States in the 21st century. There were no legal consequences for Till’s murderers, other than the routine acquittal so many racist killers received in that period.
Other than that, however, the two cases are identical.
I’m used to John Lewis’s race-baiting, dishonest rhetoric and false pose as a unifying force in our society, though his farewell op-ed was especially flagrant. I’m annoyed at my friend for endorsing Lewis’ posturing and circulating the disgusting comparison of George Floyd and Emmett Till on social media for ignoramuses to cheer.
Facts Don’t Matter to the George Floyd Freakout mob, but my friend is a lawyer. People are supposed to be able to trust lawyers, who are, in turn, supposed to be trustworthy because of their fealty to facts.
What, however, should I do? I have written here that everyone need to be proactive on social media and elsewhere, actively opposing Big Lies, false narratives and propaganda. But I know exactly what would happen if I posted some equivalent of this post on my friend’s John Lewis thread. I would embarrass an old friend of many years who did not put this garbage on my page—he knows better than that—but his own. I would be fielding endless angry replies, mostly from Deranged Facebook users I don’t know, calling me a racist, a “Trumpster” and a Fox News acolyte. Nobody would mount an intelligent rebuttal, because there is no intelligent rebuttal.
At some point, the ethical dilemma here approaches the core reasoning of the Second Niggardly Principle: it’s unethical to upset people for no real purpose. To all those who “liked” the John Lewis op-ed, my critique would appear to be a gratuitous smear of a dead civil rights icon, and an insult to them.
Still, while I respect anyone’s decision to hold progressive views (my friend is a text-book nostalgic Sixties liberal and undoubtedly sincere), I expect smart people to avoid being ethics corrupters. Though I know calling out his post would be futile, I am not opposed to futile acts based on principle, having engaged in and suffered for, many of them in my life. Some windmills demand to be charged. Yet I can’t bring myself to alienate a friend and court abuse by pointing out sharply that the the dead civil rights icon was a toxic fraud, and his op-ed, to be blunt, was a self-serving crock. I feel, as a result, like a hypocrite, a coward, and a weenie.
And that’s why I woke up at 4:00 am to write this.