Monday, July 20, 2020

No Tears For John Lewis...,

BAR |  “I was beaten bloody by police officers. But I never hated them. I said, ‘Thank you for your service.’” --Congressman John Lewis

The people who fought against Jim Crow segregation in the 1960s were quite literally risking their lives. The list of martyrs is a long one. Activists of that era are rightly respected and their courage must not be forgotten or taken for granted. But as congressman John Lewis proves, their actions at that time should not provide dispensation from critique in the 21st century. Lewis is the latest target of president-elect Donald Trump’s attacks but that shouldn’t give him a pass either.

Despite his early history, Lewis now exemplifies everything that is wrong with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic Party and the black misleadership class. The caucus was once known as “the conscience of the Congress.” Those men and women were always among the most left leaning members and could be counted on to reliably fight against domestic injustice and imperialism abroad. They were unafraid of their party leadership or of presidents either.

“The CBC that is a shell of its former self.”
But all that changed when they were targeted by big money contributors like the rest of their congressional colleagues. After years of unsuccessfully attempting to make inroads among black Americans the right wing realized their error. They began to promote compliant corporatist candidates for office and to target people like Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard for defeat. The result is now a CBC that is a shell of its former self.

Instead of providing inspirational leadership to their constituents CBC members are now mere lackeys for the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. They said nothing when Barack Obama made grand austerity bargains with Republicans, or used sanctions, jihadists and drone warfare to kill in Somalia and Libya, or when he refused to prosecute killer cops. Only one of them, Keith Ellison, chose to support Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton, and CBC’s lobbying arm gave her a hearty and undeserved endorsement.

Lewis stood out among all the genuflectors. Having been dubbed a “civil rights icon” his opinions are given undue weight and he uses them to uphold the corrupt establishment. Not only did the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation endorse Clinton but Lewis chose to give the hapless Sanders a very public beat down. Sanders used his own youthful movement activism as a political calling card but Lewis dismissed him. He claimed he knew nothing about Sanders but did know the Clintons who were great friends of black people. The effort to discredit Sanders was so obvious and the claims about the Clintons were so outrageous that Lewis was forced to back track and clarify his comments.