Burnishing the John Lewis Legend

Here’s something that will probably surprise those who responded with the most hostility to the twitter poll above:

I agree with them. Upon reflection.

The two words are key. As the relatively small 56%-44% margin indicates, reasonable, informed people have differing opinions on the question.

An answer requires reflection and discussion among those who care enough about saving our wreck of a planet to take politics seriously.

Not all of us do, however. Most conspicuous among those who don’t are those who supported “smearing the most principled and effective figures challenging (the Democratic Party’s) capitulation to the corporate right.”

They are enablers of the past five decades of neoliberal rule leading us to the precipice and beyond.

It stands to reason that they want to terminate discussion and suppress thought by shoving inconvenient facts down the memory hole.

Their angry denunciations were a trivial exercise in bad faith, easily and justifiably ignored.

Those who are worth paying attention to understood that Lewis was not a perfect saint but an imperfect politician.

His death, like anyone else’s, is a tragedy for his friends and family.
Others may mourn, but it is unsavory for those who did not know him to pretend that we lost a friend.

Of course, that will not stop an army of public relations professionals and partisan hacks from attempting to convince us that Lewis was to us something more than what he was: a politician.

This is also unsavory. And cynical. But it is how politics works.

That means that Lewis’s iconic status should be ruthlessly exploited to advance legislation he was associated with.

Republicans now required to endorse the fiction of Lewis as a secular saint are vulnerable to shaming. In particular, their opposition to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act will be seen as the moral atrocity it is.

For that reason, burnishing Lewis’s legend, as distasteful as it is to those of us who value facts is something which needs to be done.

And while it will leave a bitter taste, those of us serious about achieving results should probably suppress our impulse to tell the truth about the reality of John Lewis’s political career.



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