Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
A lot of people have died in Georgia’s 5th congressional district over the summer. Murders are up 240% in Atlanta in July. The victims include an 80-year-old retired mechanic and an 8-year-old girl.
But only one man’s death, that of Rep. John Lewis, who has been in Congress since 1986, has the media’s attention. Unlike his fellow 80-year-old, Lewis never retired and had spent his entire life in politics. He went from working for the Voter Education Project, funded by the New World Foundation, to running for public office. In 1981, he won a spot on the Atlanta City Council, a post he continued drawing a pension from even as he was in Congress, and then it was on to the House of Representatives.
Lewis has always claimed that his goal was to represent the “beloved community”. As President Trump noted, the beloved community had seen better days, “Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested).”
A quarter of families with children in the 5th live below the poverty line. The average income, unemployment, and poverty rates in Lewis’ district fall well short of national averages.
Lewis didn’t do much for the “beloved community”, but he did quite a bit for the party that oppressed it.
In 2018, Rep. John Lewis ran unopposed in both the Democrat primary and the general election. But he still raised almost $4 million for a race where he was running unopposed and for a race that he could not have lost even if he had been facing a political opponent in either the primary or the general election.
Lewis’ top contributors didn’t come from his own impoverished district. The cash poured in from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Newton, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C. Unions, including the American Federation of Teachers and the NEA, whose activities have starved countless black children of a good education to subsidize the Democrat political machine, maxed out their contributions to Lewis.
So did assorted PACs: Delta Airlines, Honeywell, American Crystal Sugar, Johnson & Johnson, and the Director’s Guild of America. The real story of Lewis’ career didn’t take place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That old tale has been told and retold a thousand times. The photo of a single moment made Lewis’ career and created his brand as a civil rights icon. But this is what the bridge story really bought.
Millions of dollars. A steady stream of maxed out donations from special interest groups to Lewis.
When Rep. Lewis was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he could have stepped down. Instead he stayed on until his votes were being cast by a proxy while he was in hospice care. His decision to stay and fight was hailed as courageous. But there was another story that wasn’t being told. The checks were still coming in for an election that would never happen. Checks from the AT&T PAC, from two major unions, and a health care company still came pouring in to the John Lewis House Victory Fund.
Where did all that money go? Hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid to Mothership Strategies, an aggressive Democrat fundraising firm which had been condemned for a “wildly deceptive, unrelenting approach that treats supporters like garbage.” Why was Rep. Lewis spending a fortune on digital strategy for elections he couldn’t lose in order to raise a lot of money from out of state Democrats?
The short answer is that this is what you do when you’re a career Washington D.C. politician.
Lewis’ “beloved community” wasn’t in Atlanta. It was in Washington D.C. He only won his seat in the first place by appealing to white voters. The forgotten history is that the civil rights hero lost to Julian Bond among black voters. The 5th district is still a miserable place, but Lewis was a special interest man.
Rep. Lewis used to guide members of Congress and assorted lobbyists for the institution’s donors on the Faith and Politics Institute “civil rights pilgrimage”.
“If you give $25,000, you get a seat on the bus,” the director had admitted.
Lewis didn’t bother filling disclosure forms about the tours.
Corporate lobbyists were paying sizable sums to get access to politicians under the guise of a civil rights pilgrimage. And part of the payoff was an exclusive tour by an official civil rights legend.
It was tawdry, cynical, and perfectly encapsulated the way Rep. Lewis had sold out.
Rep. Lewis had become a way for D.C. Democrats to cash in, whether it was Mothership Strategies, the DCCC, or ActBlue, which benefited from Lewis’ fundraising and the fees paid for the fundraising.
And when the Democrats needed a civil rights legend to accuse Republicans of racism, Lewis was there.
He was there to accuse every Republican from Senator John McCain to President Trump of being the new George Wallace. But Wallace was a member of the party Lewis had joined and spent his life shilling for. While Lewis was eager to compare Republicans to George Wallace, he had praised Wallace in the New York Times. “George Wallace should be remembered for his capacity to change,” Lewis wrote.
Wallace, after all, was a Democrat, and Democrats could be forgiven for the worst forms of racism.
But not Republicans.
When Biden came under attack for his remarks about working with segregationists, Rep. Lewis was there to play defense for him, arguing that, “During the height of the civil rights movement we worked with people and got to know people that were members of the Klan.” That generosity was wholly absent when Lewis falsely accused Republicans of wanting to go back to Jim Crow in his 2012 DNC speech.
Because when you think of Jim Crow, the first name that comes to mind is Mitt Romney.
As an official civil rights legend, Rep. John Lewis was there to take huge checks from huge organizations to win elections that were uncontested and to forgive Democrats for their racism and attribute it to Republicans. He was there to falsely claim that Tea Party activists had called him the “N word” while in his district, black bodies piled up in morgues almost as fast as checks piled up in his Victory Fund.
In Fulton County, a quarter of black families live in poverty, and the black unemployment rate is three times higher than the white one, but Lewis was too busy building up his true “beloved community”, not of the black people of his district, but the Democrat Party, trading on his civil rights legend status for a prominent place in its ranks. That’s why Lewis remains a legend: among Washington D.C. Democrats.
Rep. John Lewis monetized racism, not even for black people, but for the party of George Wallace.
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