Donald Trump has been slammed over a brief appearance he made at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial.
The US President, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, spent just two minutes at the civil rights icon’s memorial in Washington DC.
He left the White House late on Monday morning and travelled there via motorcade, according to the White House press pool. His previously released schedule did not include any public events to mark Martin Luther King Jr Day.
The pair laid a wreath at the base of the memorial and said to reporters: “Good morning, everybody. Great day. Beautiful day. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.”
Mr Trump did not take questions on the partial government shutdown, which is now in its 31st day.
Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God. #MLKDay https://t.co/pEaVpCB8M4
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 21, 2019
The visit lasted less than two minutes — possibly due to the chilly weather, which sat around -7C.
The time of the trip was in stark contrast to previous leaders, such as Barack Obama and George W Bush, who spent MLK Day volunteering and visiting memorials during their days in the White House.
The visit has come under fire in the US media. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank listed all the ways King and Mr Trump could not be more different.
He notes that King fought against the Vietnam War while Mr Trump allegedly went to deceptive lengths to avoid being drafted; that King was “stabbed, stoned, firebombed and shot” while Mr Trump believes “no politician in history … has been treated worse” than himself; and that where King advocated for “dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear”, Mr Trump advocates for building a wall.
Social media users also took note of how short the visit was:
A powerful image from President Trump’s 2-minute visit to the MLK Memorial. pic.twitter.com/Y5Cx97SOuC
— Rex Huppke (@RexHuppke) January 21, 2019
— Shauna (@MordantTwit) January 21, 2019
As Trump leaves the memorial, we are reminded MLK will always be the bigger man. pic.twitter.com/zd9MlnslRe
— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) January 21, 2019
Mr Pence came under fire as well after quoting King during a CBS interview in an attempt to sell Mr Trump’s border wall.
“One of my favourite quotes from Dr King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy,’” Mr Pence told Face The Nation. “You think of how he changed America, he inspired us to change through the legislative process.”
But King never supported using walls to divide people. As The Huffington Post notes, King gave a speech during a visit to East and West Berlin in 1964, in which he said: “It is indeed an honour to be in this city, which stands as a symbol of the divisions of men on the face of the Earth.
“For here on either side of the wall are God’s children, and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact.”