The American left’s tone-deafness and blatant ignorance caught up with it Thursday night at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Rounding out the fourth and final night of the event with a tribute to the late civil rights hero and 17-term U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who died in July, the Democratic Party unknowingly took itself to task on matters of criminal justice reform and civil disobedience.
The topics again have become mainstays in the American political discourse following the officer-involved deaths of unarmed black Americans George Floyd and Breonna Taylor earlier this year. And the social-justice left has been quick to assert itself again as arbiters and champions of racial justice.
A quote from Lewis himself embedded within the DNC tribute to his life, however, reveals modern Democrats and progressives have no idea what it means to move the dial on such issues.
John Lewis was a dear friend. He was the best of who we are and what we can become. And he held onto the promise of this country until his final breath. We miss you, John. #DemConvention pic.twitter.com/fRAr5Mijst
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 21, 2020
“The means by which we struggle must be consistent with the end we seek,” Lewis could be heard saying amid a slew of his most famous quotations and the praises of fellow Democratic politicians.
According to The New Republic, it was a statement made in 1994, during a PBS debate between Lewis and controversial fellow civil rights activist Al Sharpton on the topic of violence and retributive hate within the civil rights movement.
Lewis, like civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was a firm supporter of peaceful civil disobedience and attempts to strive, with love, toward unity on the issue of racial injustice in the United States. The debate had been spurred on by growing support within the movement for figures such as anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan and fellow members of the Nation of Islam. But Lewis, the longtime Georgia congressman, did not hold this opinion for a brief moment at the time of the Nation of Islam’s relevancy. He lived it, skipping the historic Million Man March in 1995 due to Farrakhan’s presence, according to excerpts from his memoir.
“I did not march because I could not overlook the presence and central role of Louis Farrakhan, and so I refused to participate,” Lewis wrote. “I believe in freedom of speech but I also believe that we have an obligation to condemn speech that is racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic or hateful.”
“The means by which we struggle must be consistent with the end we seek, and that includes the words we use to pursue those ends,” he added.
WARNING: The following tweets contain graphic language and images that some viewers will find offensive.
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Rioters just tried breaking into the Gucci Store in DC but couldn’t break in before the cops showed up. pic.twitter.com/lDedf0bWOd
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 31, 2020
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 18, 2020
Unfortunately, the modern American left does not seem to hold Lewis’ personal philosophy in the same esteem that it does his Democratic voting record. Or perhaps the left simply does not understand Lewis’ words at all.
Either way, apathy or ignorance, the consequences have been great in recent months, as Democratic politicians made excuses for — or outright granted a stamp of approval to — violent Black Lives Matter demonstrations nationwide.
By the second week of June, race riots had resulted in more than $25 million worth of physical damage in Floyd’s home state of Minnesota alone, MarketWatch reported. According to WITI-TV, an unofficial tally done at the time also indicated that at least 17 people, the majority of them black, had died in the opening weeks of the unrest.
Since the start of the demonstrations, businesses have been razed. People have, literally, been beaten and bloodied to near death in the streets by angry mobs. If only the Democrats would make an effort to understand and live by the words they espouse, the words of the late, great figures of days gone by — perhaps they wouldn’t be doomed to radicalism.