Black History Month is off to a rough start in the Trump administration. First, there was the president’s speech in which he demonstrated near total indifference to the significance of the holiday. Now there’s Mike Pence’s ill-conceived tweet in which he chose to honor Abraham Lincoln, a white man, for Black History Month. The internet hasn’t let him off easy.
Of course, Lincoln is one of history’s most revered presidents, but it’s not as though he’s a man who isn’t regularly given his due. To throw Lincoln, of all people, a shout out is to miss the crucial point of Black History Month, as well as an opportunity to build some much-needed bridges. By talking about Lincoln, Pence has chosen to ignore the contributions and achievements of black Americans, both before and after the Civil War and has outed himself as someone whose conceptualization of black Americans’ experience begins and ends with slavery.
Twitter users were quick to seize on the opportunity for mockery.
It’s hard to imagine that many people were really surprised at Pence’s lack of understanding on this issue.
And the tweet is probably having the opposite effect that Pence hoped — or perhaps was told — it would.
People had no problem calling Pence out, that hollow photo opportunities or social media posts weren’t enough to cover up the administration’s policies.
Some people are sensing a theme here.
Others have their own account of events.
Some gave plenty of other people Pence could have honored instead of a white dude for Black History Month.
And Chris Chandler pointed out, when Lincoln submitted the 13th Amendment, there were plenty of challenges to overcome afterward.
This is hardly the first time that Trump’s team have found themselves on tenuous racial footing. Also notable was during the campaign when Donald Trump Jr. compared Syrian refugees to a poisoned bowl of Skittles. The photo was later deleted after the photographer of the image, who was a refugee himself, filed a complaint that the picture was taken from his Flickr account without permission.
Photos via Twitter, Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla