- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2013

PBS host Tavis Smiley, appearing on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” Sunday morning, argued that President Obama is “dishonoring” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of nonviolence with his proposed military actions against Syria.

“At the risk of being the odd man out, let me just add some broader context,” Mr. Smiley said. “Just days ago, we were celebrating 50 years since the March on Washington. President Obama stood where Dr. King stood 50 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.”

“War, Dr. King would say were he here, is not the answer,” Mr. Smiley clarified. “We cannot worship at the altar of retaliation, Dr. King would say were he here. It’s either nonviolent 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.”

On Saturday, Mr. Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders and draft legislation on the Authorization for the Use of U.S. Armed Forces (AUMF) in connection to the Syrian conflict. The draft resolution authorizes the president to use the U.S. military “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria[.]”

House Republican leaders said they’ll wait until the end of their summer vacation, which ends a week from today, before returning to Washington to vote on authorizing a strike on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The GOP leadership said the coming days will give Mr. Obama some time to make a more convincing case than he has laid out so far.

Not long after Mr. Obama’s statements did Mr. Smiley take to Twitter to express his disapproval of any strike on Syria.

“When you draw a red line and dare someone to cross it, that’s not diplomacy. In my neighborhood, we call that ‘playing chicken,’” the TV host tweeted to his nearly 237,000 followers Saturday night.

“Blurred (red) lines. Now what? Peaceful coexistence or coannihilation? Only took us 48 hours to abandon King’s dream for more drones,” he added.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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