John Lewis attends an event on August 23, 2013 in Washington, United States.
Photo by Riccardo S. Savi/Getty

White House shows how not to respond to John Lewis

The White House announced earlier this week that Donald Trump planned to attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum this weekend. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), an iconic hero of the civil-rights movement, said yesterday that he won’t attend the event if the president is there. The New York Times reported:

In a joint statement, Mr. Lewis and Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said Mr. Trump’s presence at the event would be disrespectful to the memory of those who participated in the struggle for civil rights, particularly in light of his “disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants and National Football League players.”

They encouraged people to visit the museum “after President Trump departs.”

“President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum,” the statement said. “The struggles represented in this museum exemplify the truth of what really happened in Mississippi.”

What struck me as especially notable was the response from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said yesterday that it’s “unfortunate” that the Democratic congressmen would not “join the president in honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the injustices in our history.”

I can appreciate that Sanders was in an awkward position, but she probably shouldn’t have said anything at all, because her statement yesterday suggested it’s “unfortunate” John Lewis isn’t joining Trump in honoring John Lewis’ sacrifices.

This wasn’t lost on the Congressional Black Caucus. CBC Chair Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said in a statement, “It’s laughable that the White House is criticizing John Lewis and Bennie Thompson for not attending the opening of a civil rights museum that honors the sacrifice of …. wait …. John Lewis, Bennie Thompson, and many others.”

The ellipses, for the record, were in the original.

For what it’s worth, Lewis may change his mind about attending the opening if Trump skips the event. The Georgia congressman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Right now, we’re not going,”

Civil Rights, Donald Trump, John Lewis and Mississippi

White House shows how not to respond to John Lewis