Tavis Smiley has added his voice to the chorus of critics opposed to President Barack Obama’s proposed military actions in Syria.
He says he finds fault with Obama’s plans especially on the heels of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.
Thousands gathered in Washington D.C. last week to commemorate the anniversary of the march, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech — and to watch as the president delivered his own remarks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The ceremony occurred in the midst of reports that the Obama administration wants to use military force against the Syrian government for their reported chemical-weapon attack on their own people.
Smiley voiced his opinion on the matter in a Sunday TV appearance opposite ABC’s George Stephanopoluous.
“At the risk of being the odd man out, let me just add some broader context,” Smiley said. “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.”
The talk show host went on to draw further explanation of the comparison.
“War, Dr. King would say were he here, is not the answer,” Smiley said, according to Mediaite. “We cannot worship at the altar of retaliation, Dr. King would say were he here. It’s either non-violent coexistence or violent co-annihilation, Dr. King would say were he here. Just like this is connected to Iraq, it’s connected to all of our history.”
Smiley, alongside professor and activist Cornel West, has publicly ridiculed Obama and his actions as president several times in the past.
West has also criticized Obama for using a restored Bible — which once belonged to Dr. King — during his inauguration ceremony in January.
“You don’t play with Martin Luther King, Jr. and you don’t play with his people,” West said on CSPAN.
He went on to say: “All of the blood, sweat and tears that went into producing a Martin Luther King, Jr. generated a brother of such high decency and dignity that you don’t use his prophetic fire for a moment of presidential pageantry without understanding the challenge he represents to all of those in power regardless of what color they are.”
After the president made a national appearance speaking out about Trayvon Martin, Smiley was one of the few commentators to react negatively, saying that Obama only addressed the matter because he was “pushed.”
“I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up. But this town has been spinning a story that’s not altogether true,” Smiley said on Meet the Press. “He did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium. A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium.”