It was only a matter of time for events to carry Barack Obama back to the political pulpit. Rep. John Lewis’ funeral became the backdrop for the former president’s salvo against the man who replaced him, the man who undid almost every jot and tittle of Obama’s pen and phone presidency. The parts that Trump didn’t undo, he spoiled and left to rot in the sun. To say that Barack Obama hates Donald Trump is a fruitless attempt at understatement.
John Lewis is worthy of many eulogies. He was a complex man, formed in courage during the conflict of the sixties and the non-violent battle for civil rights, rooted in God’s Word and the unalienable rights that birthed this nation. Obama touched these themes, and well.
I know this is a celebration of John’s life. There are some who might say we shouldn’t dwell on such things. But that’s why I’m talking about it. John Lewis devoted his time on this Earth fighting the very attacks on democracy and what’s best in America that we’re seeing circulate right now. He knew that every single one of us has a God-given power and that the faith of this democracy depends on how we use it. That democracy isn’t automatic. It has to be nurtured. It has to be tended to. We have to work at it. It’s hard. And so he knew that it depends on whether we summoned a measure, just a measure of John’s moral courage, to question what’s right and what’s wrong. And call things as they are. He said that as long as he had a breath in his body, he would do everything he could to preserve this democracy, and as long as we have breath in our bodies, we had to continue his cause.
What attacks was Obama referring to? Was it segregation in the Dixiecrat south? Was it the lunch counter in South Carolina? Was it the march in Birmingham? None of that.
It was Donald Trump, and by extension, good people like Gov. Brian Kemp. Here’s the fight Obama referred to:
We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.
Who closed polling locations? Was it Donald Trump? No. It was individual county election boards. In DeKalb and Fulton counties, it was due to coronavirus, when poll workers could not report to their polling places. Both DeKalb and Fulton counties are run by black-dominated (and overwhelmingly Democrat) county commissions. Did Brian Kemp order polling places closed? No.
Unless you buy in to Stacey Abrams conspiracy theory that Kemp stole his election by complying with federal law as Georgia secretary of state, and the debunked theory that Trump somehow rigged his surprise election, with the help of the Russians, none of what Obama said makes sense.
Obama’s narrative is that only a voting system that allows for massive voter registration fraud, massive vote by mail fraud, and chaos in elections is “true democracy.” Therefore anyone calling for reasonable efforts to combat election fraud (not absentee voting), is a racist. This is a masterful piece of gaslighting, and managed to counterpoint Trump’s defensiveness on the subject (I wonder if Trump got a copy of Obama’s speech in advance, or if Obama changed it after Trump tweeted?).
Trump got even more defensive, which means Obama’s words found their target.
Obama then weakly tried to defend violent Antifa protests by pretending they are non-violent, like Dr. Martin Luther King’s style of protesting. He never acknowledged that BLM specifically rejects King’s message and methods of non-violence.
As the Lord instructed Paul, “Do not be afraid. Go on speaketh. Do not be silent. For I am with you and no one will attack you to harm you for I have many in this city who are my people.” It’s just, everybody’s got to come out and vote. We got all those people in the city, but they can’t do nothing. Like John, we’ve got to keep getting into that good trouble. He knew that nonviolent protest is patriotic, a way to raise public awareness and put a spotlight on injustice and make the powers that be uncomfortable. Like John, we don’t have to choose between protests and politics. It’s not an either/or situation. It’s a both/and situation. We have to engage in protests where that’s effective, but we also have to translate our passion and our causes into laws. Institutional practices.
Listening to Obama quote scripture is only slightly less cringeworthy than watching Trump waive a borrowed Bible in front of a church he doesn’t attend after gassing protestors to stand there to mug for the cameras. Obama’s wrong: We do have to choose between violent protests and politics. We can’t have both, because one seeks to tear down and destroy or overthrow, while the other is supposed to govern. It seems neither is very effective right now in this season of hate.
Obama stood at the pulpit to eulogize John Lewis, and gave a campaign speech encouraging voters to cast a ballot for a potted plant, or rather, against Donald Trump.
Not when few elections have been as urgent on so many levels as this one. We can’t treat voting as an errand to run if we have some time. We have to treat it as the most important action we can take on behalf of democracy, and like John, we have to give it all we have.
The mainstream media positively melted in its eros for their former leader, hanging on every word. Obama delivered a wonderful eulogy with a heaping helping of hate, like chocolate brownies with fudge frosting, but he used a tablespoon of dog poop in the batter. Don’t worry, you won’t even taste the dog doo if that’s your regular diet.
Perhaps John Lewis, privately a genuinely kind and good man, despite his public bombast and race-baiting, would not bristle at Obama using this public appearance at his own funeral to fling hate bombs at the object of his loathing. But I’m guessing that Lewis would prefer to be remembered as he was–a complex man who privately prayed and wished well on all.
It’s a shame that Obama served up a tray of dog poop brownies to celebrate that gentle man’s life.