Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema has been slammed as the type of white person that “Martin Luther King Jr warned us about”.

In an interview with MSNBC, Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for The Nation, lambasted Sinema and West Virginia senator Joe Manchin for their roles in blocking their party’s ability to pass sweeping voting rights legislation.

“The people like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, these are the white people that Martin Luther King Jr warned us about,” Mystal argued. “These are the white liberals who have no sense of urgency, commitment or integrity when it comes to progress of justice in the country.”

He continued: “That’s just a fact. I don’t know if they can live with themselves with that, but that is the reality of the situation.”

Mystel referenced King’s famous letter from a Birmingham jail in which he rebukes “unjust laws” as well as the “white moderate” with a “shallow understanding” of injustice.

King wrote that he had “almost reached the regrettable conclusion” that the Black community’s “great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom” is the “white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice”.

“I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress,” King added.

This sentiment was echoed by Martin Luther King Jr’s family who marched on Washington DC on Monday (17 January) to demand voting rights reform.

The late civil rights leader’s son, Martin Luther King III, also called out Sinema and Manchin, who have thwarted efforts to push voting rights legislation through Congress.

And King III also referenced his father’s letter from the Birmingham jail and his disdain for the “white moderate” like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin.

He declared that “history will not remember them kindly” for declining to kill the Senate filibuster to advance voting rights legislation.

Martin Luther King III speaks at press conference following the Peace Walk in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr Day on 17 January 2022. (Getty/Brian Stukes)

“While there he wrote an open letter, in which he said the biggest stumbling block was not the Ku Klux Klan, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to order than justice,” King III said.

He added that his father was surrounded by people who “told him to wait until a more convenient time and to use more agreeable methods” to push civil rights.

“Fifty-nine years later, it’s the same old song and dance from senator Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema,” King III said. “But my father did not let up for a moment, and neither have we.”

The Senate will begin to debate on legislation that combines two separate voting bills passed by the house – the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

The voting rights bill would standardise voting election laws across the US and would significantly expand voting access.

However, Senate Republicans filibustered both of the original bills last year. It seems the new voting rights bill could face a similar challenge unless there is an amendment to current filibuster rules, which require most legislation to receive 60 votes to move forward.

Both Machin and Kyrsten Sinema have pledged to shoot down such plans.

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