[From "“Civil Rights Icon” John Lewis Is Finally Dead"]
John Lewis is dead.
By the way the media has reacted, you would think one of the Apostles had just passed away. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington calls him “justice in the flesh.” Joe Biden says “we are all made in the image of God, and then there is John Lewis.” Stacey Abrams calls him “a griot of this modern age.” Elizabeth Warren calls him a “giant” and a “moral compass.” The New York Times calls him “a human saint.”
For what is John Lewis deserving of such lavish praise? It is not for his accomplishments during the 33 years he served in Congress representing Atlanta. It is for one thing. It is for leading a mob in a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL on March 7, 1965. After being ordered to disperse, John Lewis refused to do so and the mob was repulsed by Alabama State Troopers. The event was labeled “Bloody Sunday” by the media. It became part of the narrative of the Civil Rights Movement. It made John Lewis a “civil rights icon” and was a key event that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In this sacred narrative, John Lewis was transformed from a mere human being made in the image of God into a saint and a civil rights martyr who advanced the cause of “equality,” “justice” and “progress” through civil disobedience against state and local authorities. The Edmund Pettus Bridge became a symbol. Religious pilgrims from across the world trickle into Selma to this day to see the relic which has become a modern equivalent of a Medieval shrine. Selma ceased to be a city in Alabama were people live and work and took on national significance. In 2014, the movie Selma was released which glorified MLK and John Lewis. The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards.
In my lifetime, I knew Rep. John Lewis mainly as a civil rights dinosaur who was a throwback to another era who was fond of calling Trump a racist and illegitimate president. I also knew him for coming back to Selma every year for the holy pilgrimage in which he would reenact his march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge that made him famous. Every year in early March out of state progressive liberal politicians like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and the media would parachute into Selma for a photo op on the bridge before leaving town and coming back a year later to reenact the same cynical ritual. By marching across the magic bridge, even the Rev. Al Sharptons of the world became righteous and holy.
There is another darker side of the legacy of John Lewis. Selma and the surrounding region never really ceased to be a place where people live and work after 1965. It just ceased to matter in anything but the symbolic sense to the media. After John Lewis left town, the cameras left, the marching stopped and civil rights legislation was signed into law, the people who lived in Selma and the Alabama Black Belt had to go on living under the new order. Black majority rule came to “Historic Selma.” History moved on and in the 55 years that have elapsed since “Bloody Sunday” the practical result has been that Selma has become the poorest city in Alabama and the ninth poorest city in the entire United States.
This symbol of “equality” is now one of the worst and most unequal places to live in the country. This symbol of “justice” is now unjust to anyone unfortunate enough to be born there. This symbol of “progress” is a blighted and abandoned television prop. The Voting Rights Act succeeded in establishing black majority rule. In doing so, it obliterated civilization because Whites didn’t want to live there anymore or invest in the community. As for “Bloody Sunday,” no one died on that day, but now Selma is the most dangerous city in Alabama and one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
In Game of Thrones series, The Doom of Valyria destroyed Valyrian civilization. Go to Selma in 2020 and you will see that John Lewis brought a similar Doom which has settled like a black cloud above the city. Selma is now a cursed place which is sinking into ruin and slowly being reclaimed by the wilderness. It is an American version of Pompeii that was destroyed by the Civil Rights Movement.