Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Senator Obama, I was wrong about you.
I've seen Clinton folks saying that you're Republican-Lite, reaching across the aisle to the Republicans, but not to your own folks. And I scoffed. A person supporting Hillary "War is cool if it wins me votes" Clinton saying that you, Barack Obama, are "Republican-Lite"?
Bullshit, I thought.
Back in Philly, I couldn't believe how strong you sounded, saying that you couldn't abandon your pastor. And I was amazed to hear you say that we have to understand those folks who are angry at affirmative action... I mean, everyone knows that there are damned few folks who lose anything over affirmative action. Yes, maybe - maybe - in those rare instances where there are no more jobs, no more positions at any school, etc., then maybe somebody gets cheated by affirmative action. But for the most part, it's just a bit of shuffling around, the same kind of shuffling folks have always had to do.
But I realized you were right. We have to understand it. We have to appreciate it.
And you were standing by an angry man, but a good man, and I just about cried.
Because we need our angry, good men (and women, of course - but let's face it, I'm talking about Wright at the moment), the people who will shrilly shout out against injustice, even when they're wrong, because someone always has to remind us that we're never above criticism. Even if that criticism is some likely-bullshit story about the government spreading HIV.
Look... I don't get him saying that kind of thing. I really don't. He's smart enough to know it sounds crazy.
But I don't really care. Saying bullshit like that isn't what's hurting this country. What's hurting this country is the idea that we're above criticism, the idea that if someone says something that offends the powers that be, we shouldn't ever listen to them, even when they're talking sense.
Even when they're wrong, we need our Jeremiah Wrights, and hell, even our Ward Churchills or, and, dare I mention him in the same sentence, our Martin Luther Kings (who was quite widely reviled by all the right people in his day, just in case you've forgotten). We need the passionate angry folks who will speak out, because some day, when everyone else is turning a blind eye to injustice, it's going to be one of those folks who points it out, and finally gets heard.
That's what we need.
And I thought when you talked about reaching across the aisle, I thought you meant reaching both ways. Not just reaching to the rightwingers who call folks like you and me "traitors", but to the leftwingers who say we're not doing enough.
You still have my support. You're still better for this nation than Hillary Clinton or, god help us, any Republican with a chance of winning the election.
But the dream of finally seeing this country uniting, and healing its wounds, died a little death today.