Friday, March 21, 2008

For Those Having Problems With Jeremiah Wright...

For an enlightening examination of one of Jeremiah Wright's sermons, go read CNN's Roland Martin's blog.

Too bad stations and news reports did not carry the full statements. They seem a lot less radical and a lot more Christian given their context in the sermon.

The Veil Has Been Lifted From My Eyes

If you are a frequent reader, you know by now that I love me some politics. Always have and I thought I always would. Not so much anymore.

I am becoming increasingly disappointed and disillusioned with this presidential primary, the media, and the lack of vision and willingness to understand that I have recently seen in the American people.

I started out this primary season full of excitement and hope. It appeared that the Democratic party had not one, but several well-qualified, sharp, and capable contestants. I have always liked Barack Obama, but a year ago, I could also see myself voting for Hillary, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, or John Edwards. In fact, I waffled between Edwards and Obama for a couple of weeks. While I made the decision to support and in fact campaign for Obama, I was satisfied that no matter who was nominated, the Democrats would surely win the election in November.

This excitement and hope has turned somewhat sour as I have watched the Democratic party disintegrate into warring factions and have seen race and gender bias rear its head. I am disgusted with several things.

First of all, I am disgusted with Hillary Clinton. A year ago, I would have voted for her if she won the nomination. Now, I don't think I will. I am disgusted with her tactics and her willingness to do anything, even circumvent the rules, to win. I am disgusted that she agreed to a set of rules regarding Michigan and Florida, but now wants to throw them out the window for her benefit. I am disgusted that she has been so ugly and vehement in her attacks on another Democratic, aligning herself with John McCain against a member of her own party. I am disgusted with the fact that she would over-rule the popular vote to see herself elected. I am disgusted that she would alienate an entire generation of young voters and African Americans to steal an election. I am disgusted with her subtle insinuations about race and religion and Obama. I pretty much am disgusted with her.

Secondly, I am increasingly disgusted with the national media. I am disappointed with the lack of real, substantive examination of issues in favor of sensationalist sound bites and endless pundit spin. I am disgusted that a radio host apparently has the power to sway an election, as Rush Limbaugh has been able to do according to exit polls in Texas.

I am beginning, in fact, to think that it may be impossible for the nation to elect a worthwhile candidate in a constant 24 hour news cycle. Who among us would ever stand up to the constant scrutiny and digging in our past? Who among us has no outspoken or opinionated friends with whom we disagree?

Who can live up to the standards that our media sets? A candidate now must look and sound good on TV, have no disagreeable persons in his or her sphere, have no skeletons in the closet, no matter how minor, never misspeak or inadvertently use an incorrect term or name, must have a spouse who never says anything of substance or too revealing of personality, must make sure to not have an ethnic sounding name, must be affiliated with a religion or religious organization that is acceptable to every voter, must wear one's patriotism on one's chest, literally, must employ no one who speaks his or her own mind, and must be neither too white, too black, too masculine, or too feminine.

Does such a candidate exist? I think not. And how many brilliant people do we never even get a chance to see because they would not subject themselves to such scrutiny?

Finally, I am deeply saddened by the lack of vision and understanding that we the people have shown in the past couple of months. I am disappointed that people will circulate hateful and false emails about a person's religion. I am disappointed that you can hear the sexism leaking from some news commentators' mouths when discussing Hillary Clinton. I am disappointed that this race has turned into a race about race. I am sad that one in five Ohio Clinton voters said race was a factor in their decision to vote for Clinton. I am sad that we have not come as far as we thought we had.

I am sad, also, that people and the media are not taking time to understand Jeremiah Wright and his comments. Wright's comments do no bother me in the least because I know that some African Americans harbor feelings of anger and resentment. And because I believe they are entitled to harbor that anger because they live in a society in which racism exists, no matter how well concealed. I don't believe that I, a white woman, can tell an African American that he or she should not be angry.

I also know that Wright is a theologian in the Black Liberation theology and that his words and work are aimed at helping African Americans reclaim their self-worth and dignity and rebuild an urban community that is disintegrating. This theology is meant to empower African Americans so that they can lift themselves up, out of the impoverished neighborhoods, out of gangs, out of drug and alcohol addition. This is a good and worthwhile thing.

I also am not bothered by Wright's comments because I happen to agree with the thoughts behind some of them. For instance, I agree that 9/11 was in part a result of American foreign policy.

I think that the white reaction to Wright is based on fear and an unwillingness to acknowledge and face reality. No one wants to hear that another person dislikes them or is questioning them. Whites do not want to hear that African Americans are angry. It scares them and threatens them. They also don't want to acknowledge a racist society because that would mean shouldering some of the blame.

I wish that we could have an open dialogue about race. I wish that the media was capable of conducting such a dialogue in an honest and thoughtful way. I wish that people would take the time to listen to one another and really hear what people are saying. I wish that we could open our hearts to one another.

I am so disappointed because I really think that this election is a unique opportunity, and it is being squandered. I hope that we can find a way to rise above all of this and to see the commonality in us all and to join together to work for a common and higher purpose. I fear though, that there may be too much hurt and anger now on all sides for that to be possible.
I am worried that the longer the fighting goes on, the more and more people will become disillusioned and opt out of the whole process. I am worried that if Clinton gets the nomination, an entire subset of Democrats will leave the party. I am worried that such a nomination will cause us to lose a generation of voters. Can we afford this?