What Moral Authority Does a Lying Racist Like John Lewis Have?asks Benny Huang.
As the leadership of the Democratic Party gathered in Atlanta this past weekend to choose a new chair the party’s rank and file waited with bated breathe to see who would carry their banner into 2018 and beyond. The acknowledged favorite was Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, a practitioner of the same kind of poisonous identity politics that failed the Democrats in 2016 and seems to have cost them a plethora of governorships and state legislatures in the previous four election cycles. Ellison is a former member of Louis Farrakhan’s racist, anti-Semitic Nation of Islam and apparently used to refer to himself as Keith X. Ellison in obvious homage to Malcolm X. He has stated publicly that blacks have no obligation to follow the law and once compared 9/11 to the 1933 Reichstag Fire, implying that the attacks were staged in order to give President Bush unchecked Hitlerian powers.
But Ellison lost, thank goodness. The surprise winner in a very close election was the slightly less radical Tom Perez, former Secretary of Labor under President Obama. Perez then united the party’s left wing with its far-left wing by appointing Ellison as his deputy. To my knowledge, those are the only wings the jackass party has left.
Among those party heavyweights who lined up to support Ellison was Atlanta’s hometown congressman, John Lewis. The elderly Lewis is perhaps best known as a hero of the so-called civil rights movement. “Hero” is practically his middle name. Hardly a media report has been written about Lewis in the past thirty years that hasn’t mentioned that he is a “civil right icon,” or that he rode with the Freedom Riders—and had his skull split open for it.
Congressman Lewis has become a living symbol of the ideals that the movement supposedly espoused—justice, forgiveness, fairness, truth, and reconciliation. How then could he have supported a Farrakhan-wannabe like Keith Ellison? The answer is quite simple: John Lewis does not stand for any of the aforementioned virtues and likely never did. He’s a liar, a race-baiter, and a tribalist. He knows which buttons to push to inflame black people and he relishes every opportunity to pound on them like an amateur pianist.
John Lewis threw his support to the black supremacist Keith Ellison because the two are kindred spirits. Both are advocates for their race first and foremost. Their constituents come second, if at all. Both belong to the Congressional Black Caucus, a legislative body with the racist slogan “Black people have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies…just permanent interests.” The slogan begs the question—do congressmen represent the interests of their races or their constituents?
John Lewis’s whole persona is a lie. He’s not a dignified older gentleman who turned the other cheek when racist white people cracked him over the head. He’s a bitter old fogie who still seeks revenge for the way he was treated growing up some seven decades ago, if not against the people who dealt him injury at least against people of similar complexion. If he were honest he would admit it.
But John Lewis is [anything but] honest. In 2010, for example, Lewis and a party of congressional Democrats made the highly unusual move of crossing through a crowd of Tea Party protesters on their way toward the US Capitol at the height of the Obamacare debate. I say “unusual” because members of Congress almost never walk through the front doors of the Capitol; they enter through underground tunnels connected to the various office buildings that surround it. It seemed that Lewis et al. were trying to get a rise out of the protesters. They succeeded. Protesters chanted “Kill the bill!” which is policy-related and has nothing whatsoever to do with race.
Lying John Lewis, however, claimed that someone had shouted the word “ni**er” at him and the media reported his accusation as fact. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), who was also present, claimed that “It was a chorus” of n-words, while Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) claimed that he heard the word “fifteen times” from about fifteen people. Despite plenty of camera phones recording the encounter from various perspectives, none captured a single racial epithet.
The late Andrew Breitbart was so sure that it hadn’t happened that he offered to donate $10,000 to the United Negro College Fund if anyone could provide video evidence to prove Lewis’s claim. When no one came forward, Breitbart upped the ante to $100,000. To date, no one has provided any video evidence of Lewis’s allegations, though lying Al Sharpton claims to have seen this mysterious tape. He must not want the UNCF to get a big check.
No one called John Lewis a “ni**er.” Not fifteen times or even once. He lied. And I’m sure that he was quite disappointed not to be called a nigger because that’s the reaction he tried to provoke. After the Tea Partiers failed to take the bait, he and his buddies Cleaver and Carson slandered them with the heinous accusation of racism–an offense that is considered in our society to be roughly equivalent to pedophilia. Lewis was relying on his undeserved moral authority to make the slime stick to his opponents–and it nearly worked.
Lewis lies like he breathes. This past January he made headlines by refusing to attend Donald Trump’s inauguration, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd that “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected.” That’s really rich coming from Lewis, given that the entire “civil rights movement” was the Communist Party USA’s pet project. If the KGB wasn’t calling the shots directly from Moscow they were only degree removed.
Lewis claimed that this was the first inauguration he’d missed since his election to Congress in 1986, which the press reported as a fact. As usual, if John Lewis says it, reporters print it. But it was just another one of John Lewis’s lies, this one calculated to make it seem as if extraordinary circumstances had forced the honorable John Lewis to do something he really didn’t want to. The extraordinary circumstances are pretty simple—the Democrat lost. But as a matter of fact Trump’s was the second inauguration he’d spent pouting in the corner. The first was in 2001 when he’d stayed home in Atlanta on the grounds that George W. Bush was a pretender to the presidency.
Since coming to Washington more than thirty years ago, Lewis has boycotted exactly half of all Republican inaugurations. When seen in this light, his boycott seems a lot less principled and a lot more like sour grapes. I wonder how Lewis might have reacted to a congressman boycotting Obama’s inauguration because of a perceived lack of legitimacy. Might he have called that person racist? I think so. Obama was not illegitimate, of course, but neither was Bush and neither is Trump. All three of those men were duly elected, though Lewis boycotted two of them and then lied to make the second one look unprecedented.
Besides being a liar, John Lewis is also a racial demagogue. In 2006 he joined forces with two other members of Atlanta’s black political establishment to release a radio ad intended to scare blacks to the polls in a county election. “Your very life may depend on it,” said Lewis at the conclusion of the ad. Yikes! Whose life hinges on the result of a county election? The New York Times’s coverage of the ad was very vague, leaving the impression that it was a big to-do about nothing. (They made sure, of course, to mention that John Lewis was “was beaten during the 1965 voting rights march from Selma, Ala.,”—just in case you didn’t know.) Here’s what Lewis actually said: “On November 7th, we face the most dangerous situation we ever have. If you think fighting off dogs and water hoses in the ’60s was bad, imagine if we sit idly by and let the right-wing Republicans take control of the County Commission?” It was fear-mongering of the lowest variety but it worked. The Republican was defeated.
Why do we hold this clown in such high esteem? Perhaps it’s because most of us, myself included, learned very poor history in public schools. Our teachers didn’t even attempt to tell the truth about the so-called civil rights movement. That’s why we grant this man almost unlimited moral authority. We think that calling John Lewis a lying racist is disrespectful—and we wouldn’t want to disrespect a “hero” of that vaunted movement because that feels too much like disrespecting the movement itself. We need to drop that inhibition; it hasn’t served us well and it’s only made us accomplices to John Lewis’s lies.