On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence appeared on “Face the Nation” just ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to praise President Trump’s ongoing attempts to bridge the great divide and end the partial government shutdown. Unfortunately, he chose to twist MLK’s words in this futile attempt at comparing Trump’s border wall with the great movement that the Rev. King not only stood for, but ultimately died for.
Pence told the host,
“The hearts and minds of the American people today are thinking a lot about it being the weekend we are remembering the life and the work of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’ 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: Come to the table in a spirit of good faith. We’ll secure our border, we’ll reopen our government.”
King’s own son, Martin Luther King III denounced this comparison in the most brilliant and eloquent way, saying at a National Action Network breakfast on Monday,
“Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder. Martin Luther King Jr. would say love, not hate, will make America great.”
It also takes no more than to look at MLK Jr.’s own words to see how he felt about divisions. In 1964, he famously delivered a message to over 20,000 people in a visit to both East and West Berlin just two months after the U.S. passed the landmark Civil Rights Act.
Standing in the midst of a pivotal moment in history, much as we are now, the Rev. King said,
“It is indeed an honor to be in this city, which stands as a symbol of the divisions of men on the face of the earth… For here on either side of the wall are God’s children and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact.”
As of Tuesday, the shutdown has left over 800,000 people working without pay, closing down various government agencies. The shutdown is now on its 31st day.