After spending the weekend trashing Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted this morning: "Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for. Honor him for being the great man that he was!" Trump, who has routinely trafficked in and empowered white supremacy, either does not know the first thing about the Rev. King's advocacy and activism, or does not care.
Donald Trump spent the weekend preceding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day attacking Rep. John Lewis, a lifetime Civil Rights activist, because Lewis criticized Trump and questioned the legitimacy of his presidency.
This morning, without a shred of irony or self-awareness, Trump tweeted:
Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for. Honor him for being the great man that he was!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2017
If Trump had only used the last days to slander Lewis with dog-whistled racism, that would make his tweet breathtaking in its aggressive temerity, but Trump’s entire adult life has been an exercise in leveraging and empowering white supremacy — from his housing discrimination against Black people; to his campaign to reinstate the death penalty in New York to execute five teenagers, four Black and one Latino, who were wrongly convicted; to his birtherism conspiracy-mongering against President Obama; to his elevation of people with ties to white supremacy in his incoming administration.
Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated for the dismantlement of white supremacy. That is what he “stood for,” in Trump’s words — although it is more accurate to say he agitated for it, protested for it, lived for it, and died for it.
As for Trump, a search of his prolific Twitter history for “MLK,” “Martin Luther King,” and “Rev. King” shows that he has mentioned who he now calls “the great man” only one time previous to today, and that was in a retweet during a defense of Paula Deen after it became public that she used the N-word.
The president-elect, who now urges us “Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for,” and who can find time to tweet about Saturday Night Live every Sunday morning, has never even acknowledged MLK Day previously. His only previous mention of Rev. King was the appropriation of his legacy to engage in respectability politics.
Now he tells us: “Honor him for being the great man that he was!”
It is advice that Trump should take himself — although I am not sure how he would even begin, short of building a time machine and erasing his history of relentless racist bigotry with a giant do-over.