Saturday, July 18, 2020
John Lewis, 1940-2020
Lewis' passing after a life of good trouble is best memorialized by continuing his legacy, because there are still bridges to be crossed.
UPDATE: There were an awful lot of people today who should have kept John Lewis out of their mouths and tucked his life lessons into their hearts today, but a special place is reserved for Senator Lindsey Graham, who took the opportunity to smear Black Lives Matter as hating America. The idea that Black lives are being murdered in the street and their bodies brutalized even in their own homes is very much something they want to change, but I fail to see where wanting to fight for their own lives is an example of hatred for America. Are white Americans, or the idea of America itself, supposedly harmed by Black Americans--living? Do we consider ourselves one nation, undivided, with liberty and justice for all? Because they are the ones marching for that ideal, and I don't see Sen. Graham even bothering to do that ideal lip service. As one of Trump's great supporters, he stands with voter suppression and police brutality.
With regards to the largely non-violent struggle of BLM, Rep. Lewis said people should give it all they've got if they want to see change. Non-violence is not without unlawful behavior, because many things can be made against the law. Direct action often takes the form of civil disobedience for this reason--civil, but disobedient, uncomfortable, disagreeable. People have, in slagging the movement, confused vandalism with violence, as if property damage was equivalent to the loss of life--it's a sad reflection on what some people actually value.
John Lewis's head was cracked by a state trooper. He decried police brutality, but did not hate police for the job they do, but for what was done by people, behind a badge, that had no part of what the job of law enforcement should be. It is possible, just as it is possible to want to defund departments that are militarized and diversify response services so that force is not the only tool in the toolbox for dealing with people in a bad place. It is possible to love America greatly, and for that reason be in constant struggle for what it is not yet, but needs to be. We can see Lewis as a happy warrior, smiling because he knew the trouble he stirred was good, but let's not hurry to throw water on the outrage that that spurs the fighter on, or cast aspersions on the young who take up that fight, but haven't also had their images burnished with time.
We are watching a generation of greats fall away, as Rev. C. T. Vivian passed just recently as well, and Joseph Lowery earlier this year. They all were prepared to catch hell in their time from the people who opposed them. So it has to be for people standing up today, and from people like Graham, who isn't any different of better than people those gentlemen stood against. John Lewis doesn't need such as Lindsey Graham to write his history, Graham should tremble about who writes his.