Insulting civil rights heroes like John Lewis is a very bad look for the White House.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is actually trying to shame civil rights hero John Lewis for disrespecting civil rights heroes like … John Lewis.
The Georgia congressman and Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson announced they will not be attending the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on Saturday because Donald Trump will be there, saying “Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum.”
For that, Sanders tried to shame these civil rights heroes by implying that they, unlike Trump, do not respect the history of the civil rights movement.
“We think it’s unfortunate that these members of Congress wouldn’t join the president in honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the injustices in our history,” Sanders said Thursday. “The president hopes others will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.”
On Friday, MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle rightfully slammed Sanders for her stunning ignorance and disrespect:
RUHLE: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, I’m not sure if you watch as much cable TV as the president does, but FYI: Congressman Lewis was literally beaten marching alongside with Martin Luther King Jr. So the civil rights leaders and heroes you’re talking about are the ones you’re also complaining about.
Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, also blasted Sanders.
“It’s laughable that the White House is criticizing John Lewis and Bennie Thompson for not attending the opening of a civil rights museum that honors the sacrifice of … wait … John Lewis, Bennie Thompson, and many others,” Richmond said in a statement. “This White House is not serious about civil rights. From dismantling the civil rights division in DOJ to equating peaceful people who protested racism to neo-Nazis and White Supremacists, they just don’t get it.”
Lewis of course does not have to attend an museum opening to prove that he recognizes the importance of the civil rights movement. He was there.
Trump, on the other hand, has a decades-long record of racist comments and discriminatory practices. As president, he was waged a despicable war against black athletes who protest police brutality. His Department of Justice, under Attorney Jeff Sessions, is supporting more draconian police tactics against communities of color and is even targeting affirmative action programs.
It is Trump whose behavior demonstrates an obvious lack of respect and understanding. But of course he’s insisting on going where he has been told he is not welcome, not because of his deep respect for civil rights icons — like John Lewis — but because he’s selfishly seizing this moment for a cynical photo op.