John Lewis knows. John Lewis was there. When John Lewis speaks to issues of violence incited by racial hatred, people should listen. John Lewis is speaking now, to the McCain / Palin camp. Unfortunately, McCain is swatting him away like a bothersome fly. He should not be so cavalier.
Here is what John Lewis had to say, tried to remind us:
George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.
Here’s McCain’s response:
I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I’ve always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.
And then McCain called on Obama to disavow Lewis’ remarks. Character, Sen. McCain? Where?
**Update: Via spokesman Bill Burton, here is the Obama campaign’s response:
Sen. Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies.
But John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night, as well as the baseless and profoundly irresponsible charges from his own running mate that the Democratic nominee for president of the United States ‘pals around with terrorists.’
As Barack Obama has said himself, the last thing we need from either party is the kind of angry, divisive rhetoric that tears us apart at a time of crisis when we desperately need to come together. That is the kind of campaign Sen. Obama will continue to run in the weeks ahead.