It is perfectly appropriate that those who are cheapening the moral authority of the hunger strike by invoking it in order to force the Senate to move forward with Loretta Lynch’s stalled nomination are also failing to even commit fully to the practice.
MSNBC host, political agitator, and noted tax evader Rev. Al Sharpton is organizing a hunger strike, “along with female civil rights leaders,” to compel the U.S. Senate to confirm Lynch as the next attorney general. They’re calling it the “Confirm Loretta Lynch Fast.”
“[T]he new tactic is designed in the mold of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Cesar Chavez, organizers said,” a Politico report read. And that’s true, with one tiny exception: Those civil rights leaders actually starved themselves in a display of civil disobedience. Fortunately for them, modern day civil rights activists are not held to such a rigorous and inconvenient standard. According to Politico, “fasters will alternate days abstaining from food until Lynch is confirmed to replace Eric Holder at the Justice Department.”
That’s right. It’s more like a “peckish strike,” as these protesters won’t even fully commit to depriving themselves of sustenance for long enough to assume the moral authority associated with self-imposed nutritional deficiency.
The hunger strike is part of a broader public pressure campaign for Republican leaders to quickly hold a confirmation vote for Lynch, who has been stuck in a nomination purgatory ever since she cleared the Judiciary Committee in late February. Lynch, the current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, would be the first black woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official.
Activists also plan to blitz Senate offices urging support for Lynch, write letters to the editor and op-eds, and launch a social media drive trying to bring attention to the effort.
With friends like these…
If you’re curious about what a real hunger strike looks like and what its effects are, there are plenty of examples throughout history. But one need not consult the history books to find examples of effective and morally righteous hunger strikes. In December, Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko was captured by Russian forces and transported back to Russia where she has remained in prison ever since. There, she began to starve herself to protest her conditions and the war Russia instigated.
A cult of personality rapidly developed around Savchenko, and she quickly became a hero to her fellow Ukrainians. Though she remains in prison in Russia, Savchenko was elected to the Ukrainian parliament and the Council of Europe assembly. A number of European foreign ministers have publicly adopted her cause and have demanded that Moscow release her. The United States Senate joined those ministers in passing a resolution insisting that the fighter pilot be discharged from detention.
Savchenko revealed last week that she would again begin to eat small amounts of solid food in order, she says, to survive her trial. Whether she is exonerated or martyred, Savchenko’s voluntary ordeal has advanced her cause and that of her besieged countrymen and women.
That’s what a hunger strike looks like. In comparison, Sharpton’s appeal for publicity without all the associated discomfort is a joke. So why isn’t everyone laughing?