Appearing on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Tavis Smiley made no qualms about contrasting Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent legacy and President Obama’s call for war with Syria. In Smiley’s view, President Obama, who recently spoke at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s March on Washington, is dishonoring Dr. King’s legacy.
“At the risk of being the odd man out, let me just add some broader context,” said Smiley. “Just days ago, we were celebrating fifty years since the March on Washington. President Obama stood where Dr. King stood fifty years ago, and we honored Martin with our words in Washington. Now here we are days away from dishonoring him with our deeds in Syria.”
While discussing Obama’s push for air strikes in response to the Syrian government allegedly using chemical weapons on its own people, Smiley discussed how he thinks Dr. King would react to Obama’s plans for war.
“There’s the issue of violence. War, Dr. King would say were he here, is not the answer. We cannot worship at the altar of retaliation,” Smiley said. “It’s either non-violent co-existence or violent co-annihilation, Dr. King would say were he here.”
Smiley continued: “This is connected to Iraq, it’s connected to all of our history and we can’t honor him with our words and then dishonor him days later.”
During a speech on Saturday, President Obama announced that he will allow Congress to vote on whether the U.S. should take action in Syria.
“I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress. Over the last several days, we’ve heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they’ve agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session,” said Obama.