Every January, our nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and every February, during Black History Month, we contemplate his words of nonviolent resistance and how the practice of that philosophy brought about the civil rights movement.
Leaders, both black and white, rightly venerate him, but somewhere along the way, his message has been corrupted or outright forgotten by some on the left.
Over the weekend, longtime Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., called for disrupting and “absolutely harassing” members of the Trump administration.
“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out, and you create a crowd, and you push back on them!” she exclaimed at a rally in Los Angeles on Saturday.
“And I want to tell you, for these members of his Cabinet who remain and try to defend [President Donald Trump], they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, to be able to stop at a gas station, to be able to shop at a department store,” Waters said.
“The people are going to turn on them. They’re going to protest. They’re going to absolutely harass them until they tell the president, ‘No, I can’t hang with you.’”
To hear these words coming from a black lawmaker—one who saw firsthand the trials of the civil rights movement—cuts me to the core. That’s because, as American leaders—particularly black American leaders—we cannot praise the beliefs of King on one day and incite violence the next.
We cannot preach the gospel of equality on Sunday and show hatred toward our brothers and sisters of a different political belief on Monday.
We cannot criticize the violence shown against those on one side, while at the same time delighting in attacks on the other. Is that not a double standard?
Waters’ remarks ostensibly came as a response to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, being asked to leave a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, on Friday because the owner doesn’t agree with the administration politically.
Like most conservatives, I believe absolutely in that restaurant owner’s First Amendment rights. But does her tactic, and the more extreme tactics proposed by Waters, really reflect the views of tolerance and inclusivity those on the left say they espouse?
Folks on the other side of the political aisle are free to make their discontent known, but advocating physical confrontations is how mentally ill people like left-wing activist James Hodgkinson, whose June 2017 shooting spree nearly killed Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., begin justifying their plans for terrorism or even assassination.
To me, a black man who has lived in the South most of my life, this strategy sounds more like that of the segregationists than those of our civil rights heroes and heroines.
So, the question must be asked of anyone, Republican, Democrat, or independent: Where does this sort of rhetoric lead?
What do people in other countries think of us advocating violence against other Americans?
Will dehumanizing Republicans and other supporters of the president lead to constructive policies that preserve justice and the rule of law? Will it lead to a better America, or more likely, will it lead only to destruction and discord?
Waters’ words are not the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. or of the people. She should be ashamed of herself.