The Past is not a Pass
By Andy Joppa
Heroism is a discrete event. It occurs within a certain circumstance and within a definable set of variables. If heroism occurs in the pursuit of a noble end, then the hero should be honored for their actions as derived from that moment. There can be no presumption, however, that heroism offers any extended wisdom or awareness. This had certainly been true with Senator John McCain and it is equally true, if not more so, with the late Representative John Lewis of Georgia.
For their heroic actions, they both deserved to be honored…their thoughts and actions, however, should receive no corresponding deference. Heroism does not bestow wisdom or subsequent significance.
I have no intent to diminish the contributions made by Lewis during the civil rights movement in the 60’s. Those contributions stand on their own, unquestionable, merit. It must be clearly understood, however, that the past contributions of Lewis did not give him a pass to insert ideas into our national debate that were false, divisive, and destructive in their implications. Clearly Lewis understood that any statement he made regardless of how ludicrous, would be given undeserved weight in a nation that regarded him as an icon. He was attempting to use this “iconic” status as a manipulative “club” against America and its duly elected president-elect, Donald Trump.
Were the actions of Lewis exclusively directed at Trump or were they just more of the same empty, ideological rhetoric, that defined many moments in his politically motivated career?
2008: Lewis falsely accused Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Gov. Sarah Palin of racism. Lewis attacked McCain and Palin, then running against Sen. Barack Obama for president: “Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division,” he said, going on to suggest that the Republican ticket were creating the climate for racist terrorism…
2010: Lewis falsely claimed that Tea Party demonstrators said the “N-word” during anti-Obamacare rally. Lewis joined several other members of the Congressional Black Caucus in claiming that a crowd of thousands of Tea Party protesters on the steps of Capitol Hill had shouted the “N-word” at them when they walked through the crowd…
2012: Lewis falsely accused Republicans of wanting to take Americans back to Jim Crow. He concluded by implying that Republicans wanted to bring back those days of blood and hatred: “Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back? Or do you want to keep America moving forward?”
2016: Lewis falsely compared Donald Trump to George Wallace. Reviving his theme from 2008, Lewis said that Trump reminded him of the governors of the Jim Crow South and the police who let dogs loose on demonstrators: “I’ve been around a while and Trump reminds me so much of a lot of the things that George Wallace said and did ….”
2016: Lewis falsely claimed Sen. Bernie Sanders played little or no role in the civil rights movement. An obvious falsehood as Lewis used anything he could to support Hillary Clinton.
2017: Lewis falsely claimed Trump is “illegitimate” because of a Russian “conspiracy.” “I don’t see the president-elect as a legitimate president.” Lewis did not just lay challenge to Trump’s legitimacy…he overtly said he is not legitimate.
Was John Lewis a saint or a devil? We don’t know. Was John Lewis a bigot or fair minded? We don’t know. Did John Lewis serve the interest of African Americans or did he serve other, more nefarious, causes? We don’t know. Did John Lewis serve the best interests of America or did he serve other, purely, ideological ends? Ahhh…this one we do know. There is no case that can be made that his positions furthered the cause of unity or, more importantly, helped restore the rule of law in America.
Lewis not only declared Trump to not be the “legitimate” president, but he has also spearheaded a general resistance to his presidency. He initiated a demarcation that would not allow for retreat. He violated his oath of office to support the Constitution; Donald Trump being the Constitutionally validated president. Trump’s claim to the office was not open to legitimate challenge. His policies could be fought within the allowances of our Republic, but his legality was not on the table. A more ominous interpretation of Lewis’ position might see it as an act of rebellion against the valid government of the United States of America.
The integrity of our nation cannot be sacrificed on the altar of the meanderings of a destructive, ideologically driven, “icon.” Benedict Arnold should have proven once and for all, that some heroes can be traitors.