Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Amanda Marcotte: Right-wing conspiracy theorists get (even more) unhinged as Trump’s chances fade

With QAnon on the rise, Alex Jones tells his fans to “kill” progressives: Trump Nation is going full cuckoo

A pandemic is spiraling out of control and Donald Trump’s reaction is to roll his eyes and say, “It is what it is.” Unsurprisingly, polling data shows that his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, is pulling ahead, not just in national polls, but in a number of battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida, none of which Trump can afford to lose. After all, the incumbent has nothing real to run on. The economy is the worst it’s been since the Great Depression of the 1930s, Americans are losing health insurance by the millions, and Republicans are responding by trying to shortchange unemployment benefits for the millions of people who’ve lost their jobs.

With nothing real to hang on to, it’s no surprise that conservatives — already prone to spreading misinformation — are increasingly addicted to conspiracy theories, wallowing in paranoid fantasies to justify the ludicrous notion that there’s any reason to keep on supporting Trump and the Republican Party.

Unfortunately, this turn towards even greater conspiratorial thinking on the right is also extremely dangerous. There’s already a strong link between right-wing paranoia and right-wing violence. Add the increasing likelihood of Trump’s defeat, the rising stress from the coronavirus, and a blitz of violent propaganda, and there’s a real chance that right-wing conspiracism will lead to even more domestic terrorism, hate crimes and neofascist goons in the streets.

Heather Digby Parton: Trump’s claims about mail voting were always incoherent: Now they’re falling apart

Donald Trump can’t keep his story straight: Now mail-in voting is totally fine in Florida. Anyone remember 2000?

I don’t know about you, but when I saw Donald Trump do an abrupt pivot on his crusade to depict mail-in voting as a form of voter fraud on Tuesday, I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

That certainly wasn’t because I believe he’s seen the light and has realized that mail-in voting is perfectly safe, or that he realizes it’s imperative at a time when in-person voting may expose people to the deadly coronavirus. No, it was because he singled out Florida as the one state he believes really knows how to handle elections. Anyone who was around 20 years ago to observe the 2000 election will understand why I felt that awful sense of dread.

You may recall how that disputed election result, with a 538-vote difference in Florida and a recount in progress, was decided in favor of the Republican candidate — whose brother just happened to be the governor — helped along by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, two of whom happened to have been appointed by their father, the former president. Let’s just say that the Republicans controlled the levers of government and they knew how to use them.

Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann: Will Bill Barr Try to Help Trump Win the Election?

Two investigations appear to be potential fodder for pre-election political machinations.

Today, Wednesday, marks 90 days before the presidential election, a date in the calendar that is supposed to be of special note to the Justice Department. That’s because of two department guidelines, one a written policy that no action be influenced in any way by politics. Another, unwritten norm urges officials to defer publicly charging or taking any other overt investigative steps or disclosures that could affect a coming election.

Attorney General William Barr appears poised to trample on both. At least two developing investigations could be fodder for pre-election political machinations. The first is an apparently sprawling investigation by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, that began as an examination of the origins of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other, led by John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, is about the so-called unmasking of Trump associates by Obama administration officials. Mr. Barr personally unleashed both investigations and handpicked the attorneys to run them.

But Justice Department employees, in meeting their ethical and legal obligations, should be well advised not to participate in any such effort.

Val Demings: Remember Senate Republicans who dismissed Trump’s wrongdoing — and show them the door

It has been six months since Senate Republicans voted to acquit President Trump in his impeachment trial. This November, voters have a remarkable opportunity to prove they have a stronger moral compass than those senators ― and show them the door.

There are lessons my parents taught me about America. They taught me there is dignity and honor in working hard and playing by the rules. That the Constitution and the law mattered. That voting was a civic responsibility and an obligation. That our nation and our family were worth defending against people who would take advantage. That I should treat others as I would want to be treated. That honesty, duty and integrity were inherently good and that to cheat, lie and steal was wrong. [..]

Of the lessons my parents taught me, the most important was the difference between right and wrong. When the president illegally demanded that a foreign country help him cheat in a U.S. election, that was wrong. When he illegally used U.S. national security policy to pressure them to do it, that was wrong. When he illegally tried to cover it up, that was wrong.

A child could understand this. Why not Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona? Why not Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Sen. David Perdue of Georgia or Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa? Why was it too hard for Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to say, “It’s wrong to break the law and undermine our democracy”? Why couldn’t Montana’s Steve Daines or North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, or 45 other Republicans take a simple stand for right rather than wrong?

Perhaps, as Upton Sinclair once wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

But you, reader, have no such impediment. And in just a few short months, you may be able to remove that burden from your senator.

Michael McFaul: Why Trump’s complacency about Putin is a problem — whatever his motives

President Trump has changed his mind on many issues. Yet there is one theme of his presidency that remains strikingly constant: his peculiar deference to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. We witnessed it again in Trump’s new interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios, when he once again refused to criticize the Russian president for allegedly offering Taliban fighters bounties in return for killing U.S. soldiers, and also excused Russian arming of the Taliban by arguing, “Well, we sold them weapons when they were fighting Russia, too. The Taliban, in Afghanistan. … I’m just saying, we did that, too.” (Note: The Taliban, which was formed in 1994, never fought Soviet forces, which left the country five years earlier.) We already knew that Trump had avoided raising the issue in a series of phone calls with Putin in the past few months.

Trump’s stubborn refusal to criticize Putin remains a mystery. But the damage this position has done to U.S. interests is known, and could become even greater in the future. Most troubling, Trump’s stance on Putin — which often contrasts with policies of his own administration — creates an ambiguity that is destructive in his own right. [..]

Given this consistent track record of supporting Putin, it should not be surprising that Putin might misjudge Trump’s commitment to NATO or deterrence more generally. Trump’s latest signal of weakness — refusal to even raise the issue of Russian actions against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan — can only deepen Putin’s doubts about American resolve. Such doubts in turn can birth dangerous adventurism.

Blue Voices

I have my opinions, some of which you have heard. A Two-Part piece from Vice.

The Breakfast Club (Controlling Chaos)The Breakfast Club (Controlling Chaos)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

Highlights of this day in history: Actress Marilyn Monroe dies; Cornerstone laid for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal; ‘American Bandstand’ debuts on network TV; Actors Richard Burton and Alec Guinness die.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

We’ve got a deeply flawed political system with an insane overreaching extremist element, with a Supreme Court that is completely loony.

Lizz Winstead

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The Squad

More like this please.

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Republicans Couldn’t Care Less About the Unemployed

Their cruelty and ignorance are creating another gratuitous disaster.

In case you haven’t noticed, the coronavirus is still very much with us. Around a thousand Americans are dying from Covid-19 each day, 10 times the rate in the European Union. Thanks to our failure to control the pandemic, we’re still suffering from Great Depression levels of unemployment; a brief recovery driven by premature attempts to resume business as usual appears to have petered out as states pause or reverse their opening.

Yet enhanced unemployment benefits, a crucial lifeline for tens of millions of Americans, have expired. And negotiations over how — or even whether — to restore aid appear to be stalled.

You sometimes see headlines describing this crisis as a result of “congressional dysfunction.” Such headlines reveal a severe case of bothsidesism — the almost pathological aversion of some in the media to placing blame where it belongs.

For House Democrats passed a bill specifically designed to deal with this mess two and a half months ago. The Trump administration and Senate Republicans had plenty of time to propose an alternative. Instead, they didn’t even focus on the issue until days before the benefits ended. And even now they’re refusing to offer anything that might significantly alleviate workers’ plight.

This is an astonishing failure of governance, right up there with the mishandling of the pandemic itself. But what explains it?

Well, I’m of two minds. Was it ignorant malevolence, or malevolent ignorance?

George T. Conway III: Trump’s name should live in infamy

If there’s one thing we know about President Trump, it’s that he lies and he cheats. Endlessly. And shamelessly. But still, mostly, incompetently.

So it should have come as no surprise that Trump finally went where no U.S. president had ever gone before. In a tweet last week, he actually suggested that the country “Delay the Election.”

That trial balloon was a brazen effort to see if he can defraud his way into four more years in the White House. And why not try? After all, Trump has managed to swindle his way through life, on matters large and small, essential and trivial. [..]

Trump’s sanction must come at the polls, and beyond. For the sake of our constitutional republic, he must lose, and lose badly. Yet that should be just a start: We should only honor former presidents who uphold and sustain our nation’s enduring democratic values. There should be no schools, bridges or statues devoted to Trump. His name should live in infamy, and he should be remembered, if at all, for precisely what he was — not a president, but a blundering cheat.

Michelle Cottle: Disenchanted Seniors for Biden

The pandemic is particularly dangerous for older Americans, and Trump is losing their support.

The ad opens with amateur footage of an older, white-haired woman, smiling and chatting with the toddler snuggled in her lap. In a voice-over, a younger woman reminisces about how her grandmother’s home had always been “the safe place.”

Then came the coronavirus. [..]

In recent decades, older voters have tilted conservative. “No Democrat has won or broken even with seniors in two decades, since Al Gore in 2000 devoted much of his general-election campaign to warning that Republicans would cut popular programs like Social Security and Medicare,” The Times recently noted.

This was certainly the case in 2016, when Mr. Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 13 percentage points among voters 65 and up, according to data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. Along with his xenophobic scaremongering and culture-war revanchism, the Donald Trump of 2016 explicitly promised older voters that he would protect Social Security and Medicare. He assured them that he had their backs.

Four years on, many seniors aren’t feeling all that reassured and are wondering if maybe the president has turned his back on them. A growing pile of polls show this crucial cohort slipping from his grasp.

Charles M. Blow: Trump Forecasts His Own Fraud

In the president’s world, he is never to blame for failure.

This election is in danger of being stolen. By Donald Trump.

Trump is a win-at-all-costs kind of operator. For him, the rules are like rubber, not fixed but bendable. All structures — laws, conventions, norms — exist for others, those not slick and sly enough to evade them, those not craven enough to break them.

Trump is showing anyone who is willing to see it, in every way possible, that he is willing to do anything to win re-election, and will cry foul if he doesn’t, a scenario that could cause an unprecedented national crisis. [..]

In Trump’s world, he is never to blame for failure. He is the best, the greatest ever, like no one has ever seen before. He doesn’t fail. In reality, his life is chock-full of failure.

At the same time Trump is attacking voting by mail, he is undermining the mechanism by which it would be done: the United States Postal Service. This is fueling concerns by many that the Postal Service is being damaged precisely because of Trump opposition to mail-in voting.

Elizabeth Drew: Let’s Scrap the Presidential Debates

They’ve become unrevealing quip contests.

Nervous managers of the scheduled 2020 presidential debates are shuffling the logistics and locations to deal with the threat of the coronavirus. But here’s a better idea: Scrap them altogether. And not for health reasons.

The debates have never made sense as a test for presidential leadership. In fact, one could argue that they reward precisely the opposite of what we want in a president. When we were serious about the presidency, we wanted intelligence, thoughtfulness, knowledge, empathy and, to be sure, likability. It should also go without saying, dignity.

Yet the debates play an outsize role in campaigns and weigh more heavily on the verdict than their true value deserves. [..]

The better way to pay attention to and choose among the presidential candidates is to follow the long campaign that so many complain about. The reason for such moaning has always been a mystery, because unless the campaign is taking place in your living room, you can simply switch it off.

The key words are “pay attention to,” because over the stretch of 2015-2016 it wasn’t impossible to see the implications of a Trump presidency. Not just the vulgarity but the ignorance and insensitivity and extreme narcissism were apparent more than a year before Election Day.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump is getting truly desperate — and that means he’s increasingly dangerous

Maybe Trump can’t successfully steal the election — but he’ll do as much damage as possible on his way out the door

One of the first things that activists and educators who work to stop domestic violence learn is this: The most dangerous time for the victim is when she tries to leave the abusive relationship. The abuser, desperate to keep his power and control over the victim, will drastically escalate the threats and violence if he senses that she’s looking for an escape route. If she does get out, the abuser will often track her down and try to force her to return through violence. This is why advocates for victims emphasize the importance of careful planning to escape an abusive relationship, since abusers rarely just let a victim walk away.

The parallels between the situation of many abuse victims and the nation’s dilemma when it comes to removing Donald Trump from power have not been lost on feminists. As sex educator Twanna Hines noted on Twitter on Friday, Trump “knows his time is up.” She predicted that he will lash out the way that abusers do “when the relationship is ending.” [..]

But even though we’re likely to see a situation where former Vice President Joe Biden is sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2021, that doesn’t mean we’re in anything like a position to relax. Like the abusive husband who would rather see his wife injured or dead than let her move out in peace, Trump will, as Election Day nears, increasingly turn to schemes to keep power that will pose real threats — not just to our democracy, but to the immediate safety and well-being of Americans.

Even if Trump is successfully removed from office, the amount of damage he could well do to punish the American people for rejecting him is, frankly, terrifying.

The Axios Interview

Pretty much just as terrible as you’ve been hearing.

The Breakfast Club (Transparency)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

Nazi police arrest Anne Frank and family; Britain declares war on Germany in World War I; Three civil rights workers found slain in Mississippi; The Bordens axed to death; Jazz great Louis Armstrong born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Every president thinks that all information that comes to the White House is their private preserve after they all promise an open administration on the campaign trail, but some are more secretive than others. Some want to lock down everything.

Helen Thomas (August 4, 1920 – July 20, 2013)

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Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Alexander Vindman: Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing what’s right matters.

After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian. I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.

This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate. The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.

A year ago, having served the nation in uniform in positions of critical importance, I was on the cusp of a career-topping promotion to colonel. A year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine the very foundations of our democracy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the facade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration.

Eric Boehlert: Hillary Clinton Was Right About The Deplorables: Pandemic Edition

The press crucified her, but she was right, as usual.

Looking back, “Clinton’s comments about Trump’s human deplorables were overly generous,” Salon’s Chauncey DeVega noted in January. “Trump’s reign has encouraged a wave of lethal hate crimes and other violence against nonwhites, Muslims, Jews, gays and lesbians. Trump’s foot soldiers have engaged in acts of political violence and terrorism against Democrats and others deemed to be the “enemy.””

And then came the pandemic.

With the GOP’s Southern strategy of aggressively reopening red states now proving to be public disaster as daily confirmed Covid-19 cases skyrocket into the tens of thousands in states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona, Trump supporters have shifted from gloating about beating the virus, to refusing to help combat it. Staging public tempter tantrums over wearing masks, Trump’s deplorables are keeping America down and wrecking the economy in the process.“ [..]

The American right wing has created the most politicized and partisan pandemic the world has ever seen. And that’s deplorable.

Paul Rosenberg: On the de-Trumpification of America: It definitely won’t be easy, but it must be done

Defeating Donald Trump might be the easy part. Uprooting the toxic movement he represents could take decades

Despite the deep hole he’s in, Donald Trump could still win re-election, as we are constantly reminded. If he loses, some observers warn, there could be considerable trouble, even violent resistance. But perhaps the biggest problem facing us in the medium-to-long term is what happens if Trump loses. In particular, what do we do to undo Trumpism? Not just to counter the destruction Trump has wrought, but the decades-long preconditions that made his election possible, if not almost inevitable.

This question was raised recently by Foreign Policy in Focus editor John Feffer, whose 2017 book, “Aftershock: A Journey Into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams” I reviewed here. That book was deeply steeped in the difficult challenges of rebuilding democratic culture and, unsurprisingly, Feffer’s recent column cited several historical signposts to illuminate the challenge we face — the end of the Confederacy, Nazi Germany and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. All those efforts to rebuild were “flawed in various ways” he wrote — the first and last most dramatically. But learning from them “might help us avoid repeating the mistakes of history.”

Robert Reich: The painful truth about Covid and the economy – Trump is to blame

Lies about the economy are as dangerous as lies about the virus. Thanks to the Republicans, millions are about to be hurt

“The recovery has been very strong,” Donald Trump said on Monday. Then the commerce department reported the US economy contracted between April and June at the fastest pace in nearly three-quarters of a century, which is as long as economists have been keeping track. The drop wiped out five years of economic growth.

But pesky facts have never stopped Trump. Having lied for five months about the coronavirus, he’s now filling social media and the airwaves with untruths about the economy so he can dupe his way to election day.

The comeback “won’t take very long”, he reassured Americans on Thursday. But every indicator shows that after a small uptick in June, the US economy is tanking again. Restaurant reservations are down, traffic at retail stores is dwindling, more small businesses are closing, the small rebound in air travel is reversing.

What’s Trump’s plan to revive the economy? The same one he’s been pushing for months: just “reopen” it. [..]

Lies about the economy are harder to spot than lies about the coronavirus because the virus’s grim death count is painfully apparent while the economy is complicated. But Trump’s economic lies are no less egregious, and they’re about to cause a great deal of unnecessary suffering.

Trump and Senate Republicans may not like it, but that’s the painful truth.

Bryce Covert: Biden’s Quietly Radical Care Plan

The candidate is talking about child care and elder care in the same breath, and making them part of his economic package. Both changes are long overdue.

Joe Biden’s recent policy proposal to address the country’s crisis of care didn’t garner major headlines. There were no haphazardly capitalized Trump tweets in response, nor congressional Republicans denouncing it as socialism. But make no mistake: His plan is quietly radical in both its comprehensiveness and its framing.

Mr. Biden’s plan incorporates a lot of ideas that are not his own. His pledge to give all 3- and 4-year-olds access to preschool? President Barack Obama initiated an effort to ensure universal preschool in 2013. His promise to help parents afford child care? It piggybacks on Senator Patty Murray and Representative Bobby Scott’s Child Care for Working Families Act. His argument that caregivers deserve better pay and more rights? To get there, he says he’d sign the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights bill put forward by Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Pramila Jayapal in 2018.

But by bringing all of these pieces together in one place and by talking about them in the same breath with his other economic policies, he is pushing this conversation into new territory. No longer is the struggle to care for our families while earning a living something relegated to kitchen tables and curtained-off hospital beds. These challenges affect all of us, rippling throughout the entire economy. And Mr. Biden is the first presidential candidate to drag them out of the shadows and into the public conversation in such a sweeping way.

Reverend William Barber and Bernice King: Removing monuments is the easy part. We must make America a real democracy

Flags and statues may fall, but the real struggle is for genuine voting rights, equal healthcare and truly integrated schools

One hundred and fifty-five years after Confederate troops surrendered at Appomattox and Bennett Place, their battle flag has finally come down in Mississippi and their statues are retreating from courthouse squares and university quads. As the children of generations of Black southerners who fought against the lies of the Lost Cause, we celebrate this most recent surrender and look forward to walking down streets that are not shadowed by monuments to men who claimed to own our ancestors. But we cannot understand why these monuments lasted so long without challenging the inequities they were erected to justify. In fact, many who support flags and statues coming down today also advocate voter suppression, attack healthcare and re-segregate our schools. We must attend to both the systems of injustice and the monuments that have justified them if we are to realize “liberty and justice for all”. [..]

In this moment when millions of Americans are suffering from a triple crisis of poverty, Covid-19 and police brutality, we need more than a conversation about monuments. We need concrete action to address the incredible disparities in death rates among Black, brown and poor people. This pivotal moment for our nation and our world is beckoning us to dismantle injustice and rebuild with love as the foundation. We can build a more just, humane, equitable and peaceful world. But, as King so prophetically admonished us: “The hour is late. And the clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now before it is too late.” We must act now, America.

This is not a comedy show.

This is Clio. This is why John Oliver gets a pass and everyone else gets the ax because they’re not funny at the moment. John Oliver was never funny, he’s British and people mistake accents and class racism for humor when in fact all English people are deadly serious all the time and it’s only that the outlandish, outrageous, and inappropriate nature of their actions (Tea in the middle of a Rhino Stampede? Are you daft?) make them targets for mockery like the Stooges or other physical comedians.

As a class United States Citizens are accurately portrayed as ignorant, greedy, morons.

Cartnoon

Not my best week ever. How about you?

Not that I didn’t know this, I am widely read and pay attention, but the WNBA Players picking up on Breonna “Say Her Name” Taylor has exposed some hermits and shut ins.

The Breakfast Club (Good Trouble)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

Christopher Columbus sets sail; Europe slides further into World War I; A Cold War case heats up Capitol Hill; Air traffic controllers in the U.S. go on strike; NBA founded; Singer Tony Bennett born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

I want to see young people in America feel the spirit of the 1960s and find a way to get in the way. To find a way to get in trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble.

John Lewis

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Rant of the Week: John Lewis – Last Message

Shortly before his death, Representative John Lewis (D-GA) penned an essay that he asked the New York Times to publish on the day of his funeral, Together, You can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation. In a special Last Word, Morgan Freeman reads the words of John Lewis’ final essay.

Transcript:

While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

Vote.

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