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.”

Ethics Mega-Dunces: The Republicans

"You're right, Abe; they're all rock-heads. I'd like to beat some sense into them with a big stick, but I have no arms."

“You’re right, Abe; they’re all rock-heads. I’d like to beat some sense into them with a big stick, but I have no arms.”

Not a single invited member of the Republican leadership accepted an invitation to attend the official March on Washington anniversary event yesterday.

This is practically all that needs to be said. That fact alone is sufficient to show an appalling lack of leadership, respect, common sense, common purpose, values and priorities within the highest reaches of the party.

Everyone had a “good reason,” of course—Boehner, Canter, McConnell, McCain, Romney, both Bushes,  But the excuses don’t matter. A responsible, intelligent, public minded, fair and  statesmanlike political organization would have made certain that a representative delegation attended, and prominently so. How or why no major Republican figures were present is irrelevant. If the commemoration of the March on Washington, Dr. King’s iconic and transformative speech, and the cultural transformation of America that they helped achieve are as important to the party as they must be--because of the GOP’s origins, because of what it represents, and because, dammit, Republicans are Americans, then attendance was mandatory. They manage to make it to the State of the Union and Presidential inaugurations, because they recognize it as important to do so. They should be able to recognize that showing solidarity with the  Democrats, African-Americans and the public on the core principle of equal rights for all is even more important. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of The Month: Martin Luther King III

“The vision preached by my father a half-century ago was that his four little children would no longer live in a nation where they would judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. However, sadly, the tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father remind us that, far too frequently, the color of one’s skin remains a license to profile, to arrest and to even murder with no regard for the content of one’s character.”

Martin Luther King III, the son of the martyred civil rights leader and humanist, speaking in front of the Lincoln memorial before thousands gathered on the National Mall  to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington, and his iconic “I have a dream” speech.

The passage was despicable and inexcusable, an insult to his father’s legacy and all of the courageous and sincere Americans, black and white, who have worked hard and effectively this past half-century to make remarkable progress toward the society that Rev. King envisioned.

“The tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother”  have exactly nothing at all to do with racial profiling or a “license to murder.” King’s son, proving once again that greatness of character and mind is seldom passed on to succeeding generations, chose to engage in divisive, misleading and cheap rhetoric that undermine his father’s goal of bring the races together. In this he was certainly consistent with the motivations of the event’s organizers, prominent among them Al Sharpton, whose paycheck and existence on the national scene depends on furthering the illusion of widespread racial discord, prejudice and injustice.

Even allowing for the excesses of oratory, the younger King’s speech deliberately misrepresented the historical, legal and factual record, which is this: a mixed-race citizen was pre-judged to be guilty of racism and murder by the color of his skin, and then demonized in order to provide a rallying point for a race-based political agenda. The civil rights establishment, aided by a complicit media and irresponsible politicians, distorted the facts of a tragic encounter so effectively that most Africans-Americans believe the lies rather than the facts, and bullied a politicized prosecution into bringing a criminal case to trial it could only win by jury intimidation, for it did not have sufficient evidence. Against all odds, a courageous jury embodied the best of the American justice system by properly acquitting an unpopular defendant who could not be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, a standard that is crucial to maintaining racial justice in the courts. Despite this inspiring display of character, the organizers of today’s event, its supporters, and most of those in attendance, have chosen to judge those jurors as biased, comparing them to the bigoted jurors in the Emmett Till murder trial, based on the color of their skin.

How immensely hypocritical, destructive and sad.

Martin Luther King propelled the cause of racial harmony and justice forward on August 28, 1963.

Today his son made pushed that cause backward to-day in favor of hate, suspicion, and ignorance, 50 years later.