This Monday is the national holiday commemorating the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a day when the whole country recognizes the contributions of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders.
This year, for the first time, there is a Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. where people can pay their respects to his wisdom and his message of love and unity. Even President-Elect Donald Trump planned to spend some time there on the holiday. That is, until The Donald embarked on a Twitter tirade lambasting another civil rights hero for exercising his rights.
Rep. John Lewis has been an advocate for equality for more than fifty years. He marched alongside King and participated in untold demonstrations for freedom for all. On more than one occasion he risked his own life for these principles.
This weekend Lewis was interviewed for a segment on Meet the Press. He told moderator Chuck Todd that he would not be attending the inauguration because he didn’t consider Trump to be a “legitimate” president:
“I don’t see this President-elect as a legitimate president. I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
Lewis is not alone in that opinion. There are reportedly a couple of dozen members of Congress opting out of the inaugural festivities. In response to Lewis, Trump took to Twitter (as usual) and revealed his notoriously thin-skin. In a disrespectful and racist reply, Trump maligned Lewis as “All talk, talk, talk – no action.” History proves that to be a blatant lie. Trump also called Lewis’ Atlanta district “horrible” and “crime infested.” That’s also untrue.
Subsequent to this war of words, Trump’s transition team announced that he would not be visiting the museum after all. They cited an unspecified scheduling conflict as the reason. However, it seems like more than a coincidence that this conflict should arise right after Trump goes off on Lewis. What’s more, the Museum is not just a repository of African American history, including the parts where Lewis played a significant role. It is also the result of legislation first introduced in Congress by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
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Does Trump really have another sudden, more pressing engagement on MLK’s birthday? Perhaps. There is some skepticism on whether Trump had ever planned to go at all. According to BuzzFeed, Trump’s transition team asked the Smithsonian about a visit, but never actually scheduled one. But people can draw their own conclusions given the available evidence. And Trump’s own temperament should be part of that analysis. His famously juvenile tendencies suggest that a spiteful rejection of this sort would be typical Trumpian behavior.