US Vice President Mike Pence has unleashed a wave of outrage and indignation on Twitter after saying “all lives matter” despite being repeatedly pressed to utter “black lives matter.” Every life is important, he argued.
In a sit-down with a Philadelphia ABC affiliate on Friday, reporter Brian Taff nudged Pence several times to repeat the slogan – which doubles as the name for a movement dedicated to fighting police brutality and racism in the US – asking “Can you say those words?”
“In this nation… we cherish the ideal that all of us are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights,” Pence replied, quoting the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.
And so all lives matter in a very real sense.
Taff pressed the question further, suggesting some Americans do not agree with the phrase “black lives matter” and again asking the vice president to utter the words himself, but Pence refused to budge.
Well, I don’t accept the fact, Brian, that there is a segment of American society that disagrees in the preciousness and importance of every human life.
The exchange has sent an army of critics to Twitter, many taking Pence’s refusal to say the words as ironclad proof of bigotry.
“Pence cannot say ‘Black Lives Matter’ because they don’t matter to him or Trump. The simplest explanation is usually true,”said one detractor.
Congressman Ted Lieu (D-California) also shot back, explaining that “Of course all lives matter. So why do people say black lives matter? Because the system undervalues black lives.”
Dear @VP Pence: Of course all lives matter. So why do people say black lives matter? Because the system undervalues black lives. Government has systematically murdered Black Americans for generations. That’s why millions of Americans demonstrated for change. Get it yet? https://t.co/MGTcFR6mFG
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) June 20, 2020
Some netizens sided with Pence, however, saying nobody should not be shamed into repeating a catchphrase “for press coverage,” voicing shock that a sentiment like “all lives matter” was getting people “cancelled.”
Thank god. That is why I am with VP Pence. No one has to be forced to say “BLACK lives matter” for press coverage vs. “ALL LIVES MATTER”. #shame on you
— El Rob (@ElRob9) June 20, 2020
I totally agree with Vice President Pence. ALL LIVES MATTER. Why do we only here when its white on black? When its black on black or black on white we never here a word. Who truly are the prejudice ones here??
— Aldo (@italianway123) June 20, 2020
Stepping back from the partisan scuffle, one user took issue with Taff’s line of questioning, suggesting that instead of pressing the VP to mouth certain words, he should have followed up with something more substantial.
Asking a Republican politician like Mike Pence how they feel about Black Lives Matters is just handing them a notecard that reads “Say ‘actually I think all lives matter’.” A good journalist would ask “how can we reduce the disproportionate killing of black people by police?”
— Jay Frosting (@JayFrosting) June 20, 2020
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement rose to prominence in 2014 following the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both unarmed black men, leading countless street protests and marches against police brutality. More recently, the movement was again thrust into the headlines by the death of George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis in late May, kicking off hundreds of demonstrations across the US, many spearheaded by BLM activists.
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