Vice President Mike Pence refused to say the phrase "Black Lives Matter" in an interview on Friday — Juneteenth — instead saying "all lives matter." He is now facing accusations of direct racism for this rhetoric, and for supporting the Trump administration. Some supporters of the president, however, praised Pence's words.
Pence gave an interview with Philadelphia ABC News affiliate 6ABC Action News on Friday, where reporter Brian Taff asked him to say the simple affirmation Black Lives Matter. "There are really only a handful of elected Republican leaders in Washington who have uttered those words," he pointed out before asking Pence to do so. In response, the vice president said: "Let me just say that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy. And in this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation we've cherished the ideal that all, all of us are created equal, and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights."
-Mike Pence, can you say black lives matter?
-Nope. But I CAN say all lives matter. pic.twitter.com/HyTuYlLi3D— Eb (@ebphil2) June 20, 2020
"And so all lives matter in a very real sense," Pence concluded. This counter-slogan infuriated many viewers and listeners as the quote made the rounds in news coverage and on social media. To activists, the phrase "Black Lives Matter" is the bare minimum acknowledgment that Black Americans deserve human rights, while the counter "all lives matter" is meaningless in that context.
As the interview went on, Taff pressed Pence on this point, challenging him on why he would not say the simple phrase. "People are saying, of course all lives matter, but to say the words is an acknowledgment that Black lives also matter at a time in this country when it appears that there's a segment of our society that doesn't agree. So why will you not say those words?" he asked.
"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 responded. "And it's one of the reasons why as we advance important reforms in law enforcement, as we look for ways to strengthen and improve our public safety in our cities, that we're not going to stop there."
Pence's refusal to acknowledge the existence of racism in the United States also outraged many viewers, as the Twitter storm that followed proved. Here's a look at how social media responded to Pence's take on the slogan "Black Lives Matter."
There's a simple explanation why @VP Mike Pence can't say "Black Lives Matter."
To him, they don't.https://t.co/9LnDwx53zL— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) June 20, 2020
That's not surprising. Its actually expected. Trump's shadow, lol— Sherrie (@livingwright318) June 20, 2020
Failure to Act
Won't say the words. Won't wear a mask. Won't contradict the malignancy that is his boss's daily rhetoric. Mike Pence is still the Mike Pence of Indiana who should be allowed to retire to his state in January.— Daniel Johnson (@DanJohnsoninc) June 20, 2020
Except kids at the border. And lgbtq people. And dreamers. And black people etc etc— David (@DavidRoths) June 20, 2020
The biggest hypocrite ever to call himself a Christian. We believe the Lord expects higher standards than your arse creeping adoration of the racist rapist squatter in the People’s house. @VP https://t.co/eyiGQNHaVt— MissplacedSaffie (@freeusoftrump) June 20, 2020