I realize most Americans know virtually nothing about our history. But then most Americans don't strut around acting as if they are the very torchbearers of freedom.
The right-wing reactionary group known as The Tea Party compares itself to the colonial Sons of Liberty. Yet their actions this past weekend in Washington, D.C., were more reminiscent of the White Citizens' Council and demonstrated that you can call yourself an American patriot, without knowing the first thing about American history.
John Lewis of Georgia is unquestionably one of the giants of American history. What he endured for the cause of freedom during the 1950s and '60s should be honored and held in awe by every American. Yet, when he attempted to walk into the United States Capitol this past weekend, he was spat upon and called a nigger by Tea Party members protesting health care reform.
He could handle the abuse. No living American has endured more abuse from bigots calling themselves patriots than John Lewis and no living American has done more for the cause of freedom than John Lewis.
Defenders will argue that it was a few bad apples. But the Tea Party is fully embraced by the Republican Party. Not surprisingly, 25 percent of people claiming to be Republicans think that President Obama "might be the anti-Christ."
I used to think Lewis was 'just' an African-American politician from Georgia until I read Taylor Branch's trilogy on the civil rights era of US history. Lewis, barely into his 20s, was a giant of those times. He endured far more than someone's spit: beatings and death threats. Throughout all that, he persevered, never wavering from his nonviolence and belief that equality would ultimately arrive. That's courage, friends, something Tea Partiers know little about.
Excellent letter that really resonated with me.
My hero? I'll take John Lewis any day.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.