Rep. Gregory Meeks sees complicity in congressional Republicans’ shameful silence on Trump — precisely the sort of inaction in the face of adversity Dr. King warned about.

As the Republican Party comes to realize the damage caused by Donald Trump’s disparaging remarks about “shithole countries,” GOP members of Congress are by and large staying silent. Many of those who were in the meeting with Trump when it happened are even trying to walk back any confirmation he said it — despite the fact that he proceeded to brag about it to his friends and others have confirmed he did say it.

The fact that all of this unfolded on the weekend of Martin Luther King Day made the whole thing 10 times worse — and it was not lost on New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus political action committee.

Appearing on CNN with John Berman, Meeks condemned not only Trump, but his Republican colleagues who refuse to stand up for what is right:

BERMAN: Then the question is, you say this is the president, this is some of the people he’s playing to, clearly racists, like David Duke. What do you, then, or how do you categorize members of Congress, Republicans, who are supporting what the president said, or not criticizing it, or remaining silent? Are they complicit in this, what you call racism?

MEEKS: Well yeah. I think that as we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday, and all that he has done for America — because virtually, Dr. King saved America from itself — that, and in that time, he talked about those who remain silent. That we will remember those — our friends — who remained silent, as opposed to our enemies who spoke those evil words. It is incumbent upon all Americans, particularly those of us who have the responsibility of being members of the United States Congress, be it in the House or the Senate, to have a strong voice and to say that what the president said is wrong. Irrespective of your political viewpoint, what he said is morally wrong, and we should say it and stand up for — stand up against it loudly and clearly.

BERMAN: Do you support the formal censure of the president in the House?

MEEKS: Absolutely. It sends a message to our children. How can you — we stand up, and lose our moral compass completely?

As Meeks reminds us all, King believed silence in the face of hate to be every bit the obstacle to justice as hate itself.

King’s movement of organized nonviolent protest against the Jim Crow regime never shied from controversy. It required every last person to speak up and every last person to refuse to take part in the machine of oppression. The men and women of the Civil Rights Movement showed courage and conviction that Republicans in Congress have never shown.

It is time for our leaders to choose whether or not they are on the side of right. Republicans who stick with Trump will not be remembered kindly.


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