On Monday, all roads will lead to the nation's capital for the inauguration of the President of the United States for a second term. Historic and symbolic for a multitude of reasons, this inauguration also lands on the same day we honor our greatest civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Later this year, we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of his remarkable 'I Have A Dream' speech. And yet here we are, getting ready to honor Dr. King on this national holiday, on the day of President Obama's inauguration, and we hear talk of nullification. We see vitriolic actions and brazen language by some elected officials simply because the president has lawfully decided to put the well-being and safety of Americans before politics. Dr. King had warned of a governor whose lips drip with the words of 'interposition and nullification.' In 2013, looks like we need to heed his warnings yet again.
This past Wednesday, President Obama revealed 23 executive orders on gun policy reform based on recommendations given to him from VP Biden following his meetings with hundreds of groups after the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT. These common sense proposals -- some of which have helped reduce gun violence in other countries -- include tangible things like a comprehensive universal background check system. The fact that we currently do not have a uniform background check system should trouble everyone, including responsible gun owners. Nobody is discarding the 2nd Amendment; nor is anyone working outside the bounds of the law. At the end of the day, in a civilized society, we can no longer allow military-type assault rifles and high-capacity magazines to get into the hands of those who would inflict harm on our fellow innocent neighbors. You have the right to bear arms, but you do not have the right to kill our babies.
Even before President Obama discussed these executive order, the attacks by some began pouring in. And following his announcement, things have gone from bad to despicable. Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas has stated that he will 'defund the White House,' Wyoming State Rep. Kendell Kroeker introduced legislation that would allow the state to jail federal law enforcement officers if they force a gun ban, and Texas State Rep. Steve Toth wants his state's police officers to be able to do the same if there's a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But the most dangerous talk we've heard yet is from Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky who speaks of 'nullifying' the president's executive orders. It is precisely this sort of anti-government hysteria that not only disrespects the office of the presidency and our rule of law, but also incites the radicals on the fringe. There's no place for such rhetoric when the president has been completely transparent and has been working within the bounds of the law. Buzz words like 'nullify' are designed to do one thing and one thing only -- create hate and division just as they did during the days of Dr. King.
As we move forward with the president's executive orders and with his second term in office, it's vital that the rest of us highlight and immediately denounce the sort of dangerous language that Sen. Rand Paul is using. It has no place in our democracy where our president is simply doing what he was elected to do: helping us move forward. On Monday we will celebrate his inauguration and we will pay homage to the legacy of Dr. King. It's tragic that 50 years later, we are still unfortunately dealing with those who speak of 'nullification.' It's important to remember that this is what it's about; it's not about anybody's liberty allegedly being infringed upon, but instead about people who would like to 'nullify' anything this president does. This is why we must keep fighting for progress.
I thank God for individuals like Gov. Andrew Cuomo in NY who rushed and signed legislation enacting the toughest gun laws in the country. We haven't always agreed on everything, but I must respect the fact that Gov. Cuomo took this bold first step in NY. Despite our previous differences, we can come to the table as one when it involves the safety of society. If only those yelling things like nullification now could learn to do the same. Country before self-aggrandizement.
As they continue to yell, we must continue to push onward. Despite the divisive dialogue that has no place in our national conversation, we will proceed with the right focus, and the correct vision. As the great Dr. King once stated: 'We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.'
Follow Rev. Al Sharpton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheRevAl