Today is Martin Luther King Day.
An annual moment when America remembers one of its greatest icons; a magnificent civil rights hero who fought for blacks to have the same rights as whites, and who was murdered for his cause.
Friday is Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, a moment that comes every four years and which heralds the very cornerstone of American democracy.
This should thus be a time for national unity, reflection and celebration.
Instead, it’s been turned into a bile-laden battleground.
First, two high profile entertainers were bullied and threatened out of performing at the Inauguration.
World-renowned blind tenor Andrea Bocelli reportedly pulled out on security advice because threats had been made to his life.
And black Tony-winning singer Jennifer Holliday caved after massive pressure from the LGBT community who bombarded her, she said, with ‘ugly hurtful’ online taunts.
Oh the irony of those who hate Trump because they perceive him to be a nasty, spiteful, bullying piece of work, themselves behaving like nasty, spiteful, bullying pieces of work.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Congressman John Lewis decided to mark the occasion of MLK Day by dismissing Trump’s presidency as illegitimate.
There is no more serious charge to level at a presidency, or indeed to the American democratic system itself.
Lewis, 76, knew exactly what he was doing.
He is one of the longest-serving members of Congress, taking office in 1987.
He is also a civil rights hero himself, a man who had his skull fractured by state troopers as he marched with Dr King from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, the state capital, in 1965.
Lewis has spent the past three decades campaigning against injustice.
So he was fully aware that by saying he doesn’t believe Trump is a ‘legitimate president’, he was lighting the touch-paper for a new round of frenzied Trump-bashing in the lead up to his inauguration.
Lewis fanned the flames even further by adding that he would not be attending the ceremony by way of protest, the first time he has not attended a presidential inauguration in his 30-year political career.
He was swiftly joined in his boycott by another 26 (and rising fast) Democrat members of Congress. Most of them citing Trump’s retaliatory tweet as the reason.
‘When you insult Rep Lewis, you insult America,’ said one, New York representative Yvette Clarke.
The man himself cited another reason.
‘I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,’ Lewis explained.
Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?
Lewis is a Democrat and close friend of Hillary Clinton.
He was desperate for her to win. Now she’s lost, he and his fellow Democrats are equally desperate to destroy Trump’s presidency before it even starts.
First they blamed FBI director James Comey, now they’re blaming the Russians. The only common theme being that nobody has produced any actual evidence to prove either swung the election Trump’s way.
Trump, inevitably, matched fire with fire.
He tweeted that Lewis should ‘spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime-infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.
‘All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!’
Instantly, Trump was vilified.
How dare he criticise a civil rights hero?
Did he not know that Lewis marched at Selma with Martin Luther King?
Has he no sense of history?
Forgive me if I don’t join in this chillingly predictable tirade of abuse at the President-elect.
Where exactly did Trump criticise Lewis for what he did at Selma?
His ‘all talk, no action or results’ jibe was clearly aimed at Lewis’ specific performance on his patch – Georgia’s 5th congressional district.
That record is worth examining.
The 5th district’s unemployment, poverty and crime rates are all currently higher than national and state averages.
Not, perhaps, by a big enough margin to warrant the phrase ‘falling apart’, but certainly by enough to justify Trump’s right to criticise Lewis.
John Lewis may be a civil rights hero, but that doesn’t give him the right to dismiss Trump’s presidency as illegitimate without himself being criticised or facing scrutiny for his own political actions.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse tweeted his support, saying: ‘John Lewis and his “talk” have changed the world.’
That is absolutely true about his talk in relation to civil rights.
But it is absolutely untrue about his talk in relation to the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.
I’m sorry, Congressman, but it doesn’t matter how brave you were at Selma back in the ‘60s – and let me be very clear again, Lewis was incredibly brave – what you said this week is very damaging to your country.
As Senator Sasse added in a second tweet: ‘To John Lewis, one of my heroes: Please come to the Inauguration. It isn’t about a man. It’s about a celebration of peaceful transfer of power.’
The sustained campaign right now to delegitimize Trump’s presidency before it’s even started is not just a disgraceful attack on Trump, who is quite capable of defending himself without my help.
It’s also a disgraceful attack on American democracy and freedom.
As Franklin D. Roosevelt said: ‘On each national day of inauguration since 1789, the people have renewed their sense of dedication to the United States.’
Friday should be a day when the country comes together, not a day when it splinters even further apart.
Trump, whether you voted for him or not, whether you love him or loathe him, is the democratically elected President of the United States.
If you refuse to accept it, then you flip the bird at democracy.
And when you insult democracy, Rep Lewis, you insult America.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Piers Morgan