Rep. Tom Lantos announced today that he has cancer of the esophagus and won’t seek re-election. Lantos, 79, is Congress’ only Holocaust survivor and has been a staunch advocate for Israel. The Chronicle offers this appreciation:
Right or wrong, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, has never failed to raise his voice for human rights in parts of the world Washington has often forgotten. Even if you disagreed with him, as this newspaper did when Lantos supported President Bush’s push to send U.S. troops to Iraq, you knew he did what he thought was right.
Lantos took his status as the only Holocaust survivor elected to the House seriously. In 2006, he was arrested at a Darfur protest. In 2007, Lantos accompanied Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Syria. He has long sought a visa to visit Iran - where he wants to hector Tehran’s tyrannical clerics. “I believe in talking with everyone,” he explained.
In November, Lantos scolded Yahoo executives for their role in helping China identify and jail two journalists. “While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies,” Lantos railed.
Lantos will leave the House a giant.