During a Friday interview with an ABC affiliate in Pennsylvania, Vice President Mike Pence refused to utter the words "Black Lives Matter" when asked to do so. In fact, he did one worse by declaring "All Lives Matter," a mealy-mouthed response that willfully ignores the deadly social disparities killing Black Americans every day.
Pence's full response, delivered on Juneteenth, the national day commemorating the emancipation of Black U.S. slaves, was:
"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. And so all lives matter in a very real sense."
In response, anchorman Brian Taff said to Pence, "Forgive me for pressing you on this, sir, but I will note you did not say those words, 'Black lives matter,' and there is an important distinction. 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?"
"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 replied. "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."
While Pence began to tout the Trump Administration's reduction of the Black unemployment rate before the start of the coronavirus epidemic. "And yet, one final time, you won't say the words and we understand your explanation," Taff responded.
Twitter users were not impressed:
I used to do what Pence does here. Respond with “All lives matter.” But I was wrong then, and Pence is wrong now. S… https://t.co/dRWzDPwlDr— Joe Walsh (@Joe Walsh) 1592609183.0
Republicans never change. Just as Regan refused to say the word AIDS, @VP Pense refuses to say Black Lives Matter.… https://t.co/W2tdK6Nfp7— Jerry Saltz (@Jerry Saltz) 1592661187.0
VP Pence refuses to say black lives matter on Juneteenth. I will say it for him: Black lives matter. Louder for… https://t.co/AgZO0s2yAX— Fred Fletcher (@Fred Fletcher) 1592609681.0
Dear @VP Pence: Of course all lives matter. So why do people say black lives matter? Because the system undervalues… https://t.co/LMclRJki09— Ted Lieu (@Ted Lieu) 1592612532.0