As the holiday honoring him approaches, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is likely spinning in his grave after Vice President Mike Pence perverted the martyred civil rights leader’s primary message by using a quote from Reverend King to make the case for congressional funding of President Trump’s border wall — a wall that repudiates the very values that King gave his life to fight for.
Pence appeared on CBS‘s Face the Nation this morning when he attempted to siphon an appearance of virtue from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in his defense of Trump’s attempts to hold the reopening of the government hostage over the funding of a wall that is rejected as an effective solution to border security by a majority of the American people.
After trying to convince viewers that Trump’s compromise — already rejected by Democrats who have stood steadfast in their refusal to negotiate until the president ends his government shutdown and federal workers are again receiving their paychecks — Pence tried to imply that Dr. King would approve of Trump’s proposed solution to the crisis that he himself created.
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“But one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy,’” Pence said, in a quote from the “I Have a Dream” speech. “You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union.”
“That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do,” the vice president continued. “Come to the table in a spirit of good faith. We’ll secure our border, we’ll reopen the government and we’ll move our nation forward as the president said yesterday to even a broader discussion about immigration reform in the months ahead.”
The idea of a hostage taker with a historic record of mendacity coming to the table in “a spirit of good faith” is a laughable proposition, and Pence’s perversion of Dr. King’s words in this context is a grave insult to the memory of a civil rights leader who fought against racism and economic suppression of minorities like the immigrants seeking refuge as our country has already agreed to in the human rights treaties to which we are signatories.
If you can stomach it, you can watch a clip of Vice President Mike Pence sacrilegiously misusing Dr. King’s words and reinterpreting history in the video below.
Pence quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech to argue for Trump's latest pitch for wall money: "Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy." pic.twitter.com/oJPZEG59BQ
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) January 20, 2019
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Original reporting by Brett Samuels at The Hill.