Vice President Mike Pence is celebrating the Martin Luther King Day weekend in a very special way ― by twisting the man’s words to sell America a border wall.
Pence, appearing on CBS’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday, applauded President Donald Trump’s latest effort to bridge the gap between his push for the wall and the Democratic opposition to it ― the impasse that has resulted in a partial government shutdown. Pence said administration officials have been speaking with rank and file Democrats in order to get a deal done, though he wouldn’t name those Democrats. He did, however, drop King’s name as someone whose message could inspire the two sides to come together.
“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.,” Pence told host Margaret Brennan. “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.”
But when it came to walls being used to divide people, King wasn’t a fan. He delivered that message to over 20,000 people during a visit to both East and West Berlin in 1964, just two months after the U.S. passed the legislation Pence referred to, the landmark Civil Rights Act.
“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,” King told East Berliners. “For here on either side of the wall are God’s children and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact.”
King in his speech talked of God’s presence wherever efforts are made to break down barriers meant only to divide people.
“The Gospels speak directly and in parables about the responsibility which we have for one another regardless of the differences of race and nation,” King said. “And so it is not difficult for us to go a step further and assume that wherever reconciliation is taking place, wherever men are ‘breaking down the dividing walls of hostility’ which separate them from their brothers, there Christ continues to perform his ministry.”
The partial government shutdown that stems from Trump’s funding demand for the border wall has left about 800,000 federal employees without pay and shuttered a variety of government services. As of Sunday, the shutdown is in its 29th day.