Congressman John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, is dead at 80.
He did something heroic in the civil rights era and virtually nothing else worthwhile after.
He merits a footnote in history and not much else.
Here’s a piece I did on this leftist has-been blowhard a few years ago:
Thanks, John Lewis. Now Go Away.
By Matthew Vadum, American Thinker, January 17, 2017
Seventy-six-year-old Congressman John Lewis once did something so heroic, so noble, that it helped to change the course of a nation for the better. The Georgia Democrat was beaten up savagely by white Southern racists in 1965, and everyone appreciates very much his personal sacrifice to advance civil rights.
But what has this radical leftist blowhard done for America lately?
Like the civil rights movement he served, he has become corrupt and destructive. He is a hateful old man who lies about his political adversaries and spews ugliness.
At what point does this man, who has been dining out on his good deeds for more than a half-century, have to account for the truly awful, anti-American things he has done?
To be clear, Lewis is revered by Americans of all political stripes, and rightly so, because, among other things, he helped to run the Mississippi Summer Project for voter registration back in 1964, when Democrats believed that electoral fraud was real and dangerous. The following year, as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he helped to lead hundreds of protesters in a historic voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama’s state capital.
On March 7, 1965, a day that became known as Bloody Sunday, 150 Alabama state troopers stopped the march on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as the activists were leaving Selma. They were ordered to disperse.
According to an account in the National Archives:
One minute and five seconds after a two-minute warning was announced, the troops advanced, wielding clubs, bullwhips, and tear gas. John Lewis, who suffered a skull fracture, was one of fifty-eight people treated for injuries at the local hospital.
Lewis has suffered mightily because of his good deeds.
There is no question that Lewis circa 1965 deserves to be honored for taking a stand against oppression and furthering certain aspects of the civil rights agenda in the 1960s. Lewis was brutally beaten (by Democrats) – reportedly almost to death – for his courageous activism, and he deserves recognition.
And he has been getting recognition and praise for what he did for a half-century. President Obama honored him in 2011 by awarding him the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom.
Obama said at the time:
[T]ime and again, he faced down death so that all of us could share equally in the joys of life. It’s why all these years later, he is known as the conscience of the United States Congress, still speaking his mind on issues of justice and equality. And generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind – an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time, whose life is a lesson in the fierce urgency of now.
Lewis has received more than 50 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning across the fruited plain, including Harvard University, Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Duke University, and Morehouse College.
In addition to the Medal of Freedom. he has received:
… the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre, the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence, the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Capital Award of the National Council of La Raza, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the President’s Medal of Georgetown University, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award, and the only John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage Award” for Lifetime Achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Lewis is co-author of the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel memoir trilogy MARCH. The books in the series have been showered with literary honors from the American Library Association and other organizations. The trilogy was described as one of the best books of 2013 by publications including USA Today, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and Publishers Weekly.
A Roll Call magazine article reposted on Lewis’s congressional website explains:
The MARCH series is used in schools across the country to teach the Civil Rights Movement to the next generation of young activists, and has been selected as a First-Year common reading text at colleges and universities such as Michigan State University, Georgia State University, Marquette University, University of Utah, Henderson State University, University of Illinois Springfield, Washburn University, and many others.
And there’s more.
Lewis has a ship that will be named after him. It will be the first in an entire class of U.S. Navy ships named after him.
“As the first of its class, the future USNS John Lewis will play a vital role in the mission of our Navy and Marine Corps while also forging a new path in fleet replenishment,” Navy secretary Ray Mabus announced a year ago.
“Naming this ship after John Lewis is a fitting tribute to a man who has, from his youth, been at the forefront of progressive social and human rights movements in the U.S., directly shaping both the past and future of our nation,” Mabus said.
And there many other important honors and accolades the congressman has received over the years that space here does not allow.
But when Donald Trump defended himself against Lewis’s claim that Trump is “illegitimate,” the left and its friends in the mainstream media lost their minds, attacking the incoming president and his supporters vigorously for daring to fight back by criticizing the lawmaker’s record.
Without disparaging Lewis, Tucker Carlson said Monday on Fox News Channel that Lewis “is the one out of 435 congressmen you’re not allowed to attack.”
Carlson is right. We should resist the temptation to deify our elected leaders. Lewis’s performance in office should be fair game.
And there is so much to criticize.
In his years in Congress, Lewis has done little for the district in southeast Atlanta he represents. Dr. Tina Trent, a former liberal Democrat activist who lived in that district for a long time, explains why she is not impressed by Lewis.
As somebody who spent almost two decades in John Lewis’ district trying to fix the problems of crime, poverty, and family disintegration created entirely by Lewis’ politics and his political party, I speak with authority when I say that Donald Trump is completely correct when he accuses John Lewis of being all talk, no action.
But, I’d go farther than Trump. Nearly every time John Lewis has “acted” legislatively, life for the poorest in his district has grown more dangerous, destabilized, and tragic.
While John Lewis spent the last 50 years growing rich and influential by repeating the same speech about being beat up on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965, the people living in the crime-ridden parts of his district have spent the 50 years since then being subjected daily to violent crimes and threats of crime at least as bad and frequently far worse than what Lewis experienced, day after day, week after week, year after year – decade after decade, unabated.
There are no federal monuments to the crime victims of John Lewis’ district. These victims are barely acknowledged by Lewis himself.
For all his years in Congress, Lewis has “opposed every piece of criminal justice or welfare reform legislation that would make the people of his district safer, more self-reliant, and more prosperous,” Trent writes.
The robustly self-righteous lawmaker is now in the media spotlight because he refuses to attend the inauguration of Donald Trump, who becomes president Friday. He pigheadedly insists that Trump is not “a legitimate president” based on the flimsy, unproven theory that, in his words, “the Russians participated in helping this man get elected” at the expense of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
In light of all this, Lewis’s slight of Trump and his embrace of the trendy myth, risen from the fever swamps of the left, of all-powerful Russian electoral interference are so insignificant in the vast catalog of horrors that is his career in activism and electoral politics that they are barely worth mentioning.
Lewis has spent decades trying to undermine America and siding with its enemies, as Discover the Networks has documented.
In the 1960s and ’70s, he worked with members of the Socialist Workers Party and a Communist Party USA (CPUSA) front group called the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
In 1989, the Sandinista-led Communist government of Nicaragua renounced a ceasefire agreement with the U.S.-backed Contra rebels, the House of Representatives voted 379 to 29 for a resolution deploring the Nicaraguan action. Lewis was one of the 29 Democrats who voted nay.
In 1989, he was a founding member of the Institute for Southern Studies, a North Carolina-based spinoff of the seditious Marxist think-tank known as the Institute for Policy Studies.
In 2003, he wrote an op-ed for the CPUSA paper People’s Weekly World, titled “An Open letter to my Colleagues in Congress: Remembering the Legacy of Martin Luther King.” In 2015, Massachusetts CPUSA leader Gary Dotterman called Lewis “my hero, my comrade, my inspiration and my friend.”
In 2007, he was an honored guest at the national conference of the Democratic Socialists of America, a Marxist group. He provided an introduction to Bernie Sanders.
In 2009, when the House voted 345 to 75 to defund the criminal, corrupt Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Lewis voted to continue feeding taxpayer funds to the now defunct group.
Lewis supports amnesty for illegal aliens and opposes securing the border. In 2011, he told a rally, “We all live in the same house[.] … If any one of us is illegal, then we all are illegal. There is no illegal human being.”
In 2014, after thousands of mostly unaccompanied Central American minors crossed the southern border illegally, Lewis cheered them on. “We are all connected. We can’t just build a wall or a fence and say no more. This is America. Our doors are open.”
Republicans who don’t agree with Lewis are routinely smeared as black-hating racists.
In 2008, Lewis accused presidential running mates John McCain and Sarah Palin of “sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.” For good measure, he threw in a reference to pro-segregation Alabama Gov. George Wallace (a Democrat), implying that McCain and Palin were, like Wallace, creating:
… the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on [a] Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.
In 2010, Lewis and other black Democrat lawmakers falsely claimed that conservative Tea Party activists shouted the “N-word” at them at an anti-Obamacare protest on the steps of Capitol Hill. “It surprised me that people are so mean and we can’t engage in a civil dialogue and debate,” he said at the time.
At the Democratic National Convention in 2012, Lewis accused Republicans of trying to restore Jim Crow-like segregation in the country.
In January 2016, he hurled the George Wallace smear at Donald Trump.
I’ve been around a while, and Trump reminds me so much of a lot of the things that George Wallace said and did[.] … Sometimes I feel like I am reliving part of my past. I heard it so much growing up in the South[.] … I heard it so much during the days of the civil rights movement. As a people, I just think we could do much better.
This is not an exhaustive list.
America should give Lewis, on the whole a terrible person, a medal for his civic-minded contributions of long ago and wish him well in his retirement.
Oh, wait – we did that already. Over and over and over again.
This article by Matthew Vadum first appeared Jan. 17, 2017, at American Thinker.
Photo of John Lewis by Lorie Shaull, Flickr, Jan. 31, 2017 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/number7cloud/32476790732)