America finds itself more sharply divided in 2017 than during any point in its history. The next four years will undoubtedly be scarred by partisan gridlock in Congress, with hundreds of new post offices going unnamed. Generally, Inauguration Day serves as a brief hiatus from our political discord as both parties come together to celebrate the peaceful transfer of power as Third Eye Blind fields thousands of angry e-mails explaining that they are not Three Doors Down. However, this year, over a dozen Congressmen have declared they will be peacefully protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration. This is America, and they are free to protest as they please, but there’s one American hero who would never do such a thing: Martin Luther King Jr.
One of the chief proponents of the inaugural boycott is Congressman John Lewis from Georgia’s 5th Congressional District. For Lewis, partisan grandstanding is more important than coming together as a country and celebrating a peaceful transition of power from one President to another. Martin Luther King Jr. himself said “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Lewis could have probably learned a lot from MLK.
It comes as no surprise that someone like John Lewis ,who cannot put aside partisan differences for even one day, has never served in our country’s military. Perhaps if he had, he would be familiar with the famous U.S Navy battle cry “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” The ship being referred to is of course bipartisanship, something someone like Lewis, who spent his 20s driving around the South in a van with his friends instead of serving his country, could never understand.
What Congressmen like John Lewis do not understand is that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has already been realized in America. In 2004, during his speech to the Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama DESTROYED Racism in Just 18 Minutes. Four years later he would officially end racism by becoming the second black President.
During King’s life, not a single African American rapper even sniffed the Billboard Top 100 charts. Now, black hip hop artists out-earn their white counterparts by the millions. If anything, King’s dream has gone too far in the other direction. Thirty years ago, the number one song in America was entitled “F&@$ the Police,” in 2016, Ride Along 2 starring two African American detectives is the number one movie of the year. Remind me again, what exactly are we protesting?
If anything, King probably had more in common with the average Trump voter than a Black Lives Matters protestor. Anyone who has studied history knows that King did not do his political demonstrations at artisanal coffee shops or Kombucha tap rooms, but instead he demonstrated at churches or at the counter of a local diner. King would have no problem stepping into a local pizzeria and sitting down next to a Trump voter. When Hillary Clinton goes to one, she turns it into an episode of Law & Order: SVU.
King, like Trump, was above all a showman. He was not interested in nitty gritty policy details but was most in his element giving a speech or leading a large rally. Trump likely got the idea of using his name to brand his hotels from King, who used his own brand to name thousands of streets across the country, a federal holiday, and his tech company which produced the popular game Candy Crush.
With racism over in America, it is hard to think of a reason King could find to boycott Trump’s inauguration. MLK loved big Washington rallies and would have likely felt at home among thousands of cheering Trump fans. A product of the gospel culture of Southern churches, King would not miss a beat jamming out to “Red Solo Cup” or “Superman” with a diverse crowd of bikers, bankers, and unenthusiastic Republican Senate staffers.
It’s hard to imagine that Martin Luther King would not feel a sense of solidarity with Donald Trump, as both were relentlessly persecuted by the United States government. King was infamously spied on by the FBI and the Justice Department and would’ve sympathized with Trump’s own battle against the DoJ as he worked to ensure that only the best and classiest tenants were able to live in Trump buildings.
Martin Luther King Jr. is, like Elvis or Madonna or Cher, an American icon. It is a sad day when Congressmen like John Lewis attempt to appropriate him as some kind of a symbol of one specific movement. The spirit of MLK is not something that can only be used by one group of people, like saying the N word or health care. His is a legacy that all Americans should share; if we cannot all own Martin Luther King Jr., then what was he even fighting for?