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.

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John Lewis: Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation

Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.

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. [..]

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.

Dawn Porter: Who will be our conscience now that John Lewis is gone?

Dawn Porter is the director of the CNN/Magnolia Pictures documentary “John Lewis: Good Trouble.”

When you decide to make a documentary about someone, you fall completely into their lives. For most of 2019, that happened to me; I happily immersed myself into the singular life of John Lewis. I followed him through Georgia, Texas, D.C. and Alabama, trying to capture with a camera the personal side of the man many knew only from a picture of a confrontation with state troopers in Selma in 1965.

As I sifted through archival footage from the 1960s, I saw countless examples of Lewis walking again and again, with almost preternatural calm, into firestorms of hate. Rewatching some of that footage today, I find it hard to understand why the United States still has so much work to do to live up to the promise of equality. [..]

These past few months I have watched his final battle from afar, knowing that he would face cancer with his uncommon strength. I learned so much from him these past few years, but the lesson I keep coming back to is this: You do not have to shout to be heard. True power can speak in the quietest voice.

He asked for nothing other than for others to recognize his humanity. He has managed to do something so many of us are struggling with — to never give up on the promise of America. I think often of the last words of the last interview we did. “We shall overcome,” he told me.

Eric H. Holder, Jr.: John Lewis fought for voting rights. If you’re against that, you’re against him.

No other tribute is worthy of his life and work

John Lewis was a revolutionary, an opponent of the status quo. He wasn’t consumed with the acquisition of power, but committed to its use for good. He helped to destroy a system of American apartheid and raise a better nation from its rubble. He was among the Founding Fathers and Mothers of a more just America — men and women who braved guns, billy clubs and bare fists to awaken the conscience of a country. He spoke out against bigotry, police brutality, abuse of power and violations of the right to protest.

But nowhere was his dedication clearer than in his determination to secure the still-unmet promise of our nation: the right to vote. [..]

John Lewis righteously fought for fairness. He did so openly, honestly and with the fullness of his being. He “gave a little blood” on a bridge in Selma; he gave his life to his country and to all of us. If the leaders of our nation want to demonstrate their sincerity about honoring his legacy as a man of word and deed, they can pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act that languishes in the Senate, name it for John Lewis and make it the law of the land.

No other tribute is worthy of his life, and no other outcome is adequate for his legacy.

Charles M. Blow: The Tanned Man Has a Green Monster

Dr. Fauci is now in danger of being lumped into Trump’s envelope of envy, the same place in which he has placed Barack Obama.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist and a leading voice in our battle against Covid-19, has gotten under Donald Trump’s skin.

He won’t lie to make Trump look better or cover for the lies Trump tells. He won’t paint a rosy portrait of our prospects during the pandemic or offer excuses for the Trump administration’s failed response and all the thousands of lives needlessly lost.

Fauci insists on following the science and telling the truth about it, and that means that the American people trust and respect him for it.

But, this — being more popular and well-regarded than Trump — is heresy in this White House. There is but one king in that palace and all his dogs wear his collars. In that conception, Fauci is off the leash.

Trump is a man ruled by jealousies and insecurities. In his mind he is the greater, the best, the supreme, even when he obviously is not. All of which presents him with an ever recurring quandary: How precisely is it that a lying, lecherous, anti-intellectual grifter doesn’t enjoy the same high standing as the honorable and the honest, the well-read and well-behaved?

Nicholas Kristof: Help Me Find Trump’s ‘Anarchists’ in Portland

The president has his politically driven narrative. And then there’s reality.

I’ve been on the front lines of the protests here, searching for the “radical-left anarchists” who President Trump says are on Portland streets each evening.

I thought I’d found one: a man who for weeks leapt into the fray and has been shot four times with impact munitions yet keeps coming back. I figured he must be a crazed anarchist.

But no, he turned out to be Dr. Bryan Wolf, a radiologist who wears his white doctor’s jacket and carries a sign with a red cross and the words “humanitarian aid.” He pleads with federal forces not to shoot or gas protesters.

“Put your gun barrels down!” he cries out. “Why are you loading your grenade launchers? We’re just standing ——”

And then they shoot.

Dr. Wolf, an assistant professor at Oregon Health Sciences University, helps at a medic stand operated by volunteers from the medical school. Could they be radical-left anarchists? No, they’ve imposed order on the anarchy of the street by establishing qualifications for field medics and a hierarchy among them, so that any badly injured protester will immediately get the right kind of care. [..]

It also must be said that while there’s violence from both sides, what I’ve seen firsthand is that the most violent behavior overwhelmingly comes from the federal agents, and indeed the most serious injuries have been suffered by protesters. Your federal tax dollars paid to shoot a man in the face with a “less lethal” munition — an unprovoked assault that left him with a fractured skull and possible brain damage.

If you want to call one side “rioters” or “anarchists” working to create tumult in Portland, it’s the uninvited feds who qualify.