Mike Pence Just Can't Bring Himself to Say 'Black Lives Matter'

Gabrielle Bruney
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB - Getty Images

From Esquire

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB - Getty Images

Polling shows that the US has come a long way in just a few years in terms of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, a majority of Americans say they support the anti-racism movement, and agree that Black Americans face significant amounts of discrimination. The racial justice slogan is so uncontroversial that Amazon put a "Black lives matter" banner on its website earlier this month, and even the NFL issued a statement saying that it "believe[s] that Black lives matter." Still, in a new interview, Vice President Mike Pence refused to say the phrase.

During an interview with a Philadelphia ABC News station Friday, Pence declined to say the words "Black lives matter" when asked directly by reporter Brian Taff, instead insisting that "all lives matter." The interview took place on Juneteenth, the holiday marking the 1865 emancipation of enslaved Texans.

"In this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation, we've cherished the ideal that all of us are created equal," said Pence.
And so all lives matter in a very real sense."

The statement is pretty astonishing, even aside from the "all lives matter" dodge. A country that has a slavery emancipation holiday is very clearly not one founded on the belief that all people are created equal. Pence's boss gets all the credit for making jaw-dropping utterances, but this Orwellian nightmare could go up against some of the worst Trump has to offer.

Taff pushed back, and asked Pence why he refused to say "Black lives matter," especially "at a time in this country when it appears that there's a segment of our society that doesn't agree."

"Well, I don't accept the fact, Brian, that there's a segment of American society that disagrees, in the preciousness and importance of every human life," Pence replied.

The fact that violent hate crimes hit a 16-year high in 2019 suggests otherwise. But while a politician's, celebrity's, or company's willingness to attest that Black lives matter is now so mundane that it doesn't signify much more than a commitment to doing the bare minimum when it comes to racial justice, Pence's refusal to say the phrase is far more revealing. "Black lives matter" is consensus politics—and the Vice President still won't say it.

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