It is amazing how two disciples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could end up on such opposite ends of the political spectrum. Two recent statements made by followers of King have, in my view, helped Obama and caused Obama unnecessary grief.
Recently, Representative John Lewis stated:
As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.
During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate.
George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.
As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.
There are those like the terribly thick MSNBC host Joe Scarborough who say Lewis called McCain a murderer. Nonsense! Lewis correctly pointed out that words matter. Politicians need to be careful what they say. When Palin says Obama is “palling around with terrorists”, she makes Obama look like a threat. When slightly unhinged McCain supporters then scream for Obama’s demise, Palin does nothing. How is this any different from George Wallace’s rhetoric giving tacit approval to the racial violence of the 1960’s? Lewis did not say that McCain or Palin were identical in political thought to George Wallace (as has been charged). He said that their rhetoric has the same potential for inciting anti-social behavior as George Wallace’s did.
Unfortunately, for every right-headed supporter of Barack Obama, we can count on a wrong-headed one saying something stupid. Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson has once again revealed his ambiguous attitude towards Jews with the following statement, which he unfortunately pulled Obama into:
The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end.
Jackson believes that, although “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.
Right when there is a good chance of Obama winning Florida, the last thing he needed was this statement by Jackson. It has long been asserted (especially since the Obama castration remark) that Jesse is resentful that his star has faded and that a new black leader has emerged who has made human issues, not simply black issues, the center of his message.
Bottom line … we need to listen to John Lewis. Jesse Jackson needs to keep his mouth shut until after the election.