A heartfelt and serious rambling
by batgirl71, Fri May 30, 2008 at 09:45:13 PM EDT
This began as a response in one of the diaries condemning Obama for Father Pfleger. As it got longer, I thought I would put it in a diary instead. As the title says, it is rambling and raw.
Let me start by saying what should be obvious, I condemn hate speech. I condemn prejudicial, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic (Jew and Arab) language.
And I condemn the hateful sermon that Father Pfleger gave from the pulpit of Trinity Church. Father Pfleger owes Hillary Clinton an apology and he has been sanctioned by the apparatus of his church.
I also know that good people can sometimes say hateful and mean things. An individual's life should not be judged by one speech or even one hateful rant. I believe it should be possible to show our sadness and even anger at Pfleger's remarks without resorting to calling him a racist and degrading his life's work.
I am a Chicagoan. I am familiar with Father Pfleger as any Chicagoan who sometimes watches the local evening news here would be. I am of mixed feeling about him. Pfleger is a confrontational man often given to using street theater. He seeks out publicity. But he also works hard for the people in his parish, people who live in the some of the hardest streets of Chicago, people who struggle to make it everyday, people like Americans across the country. As an African-American parish and neighborhood, he fights for his community and he fights against the neglect that has often come from the city and the archdiocese.
I remember when Pfleger made a public protest when primarily white Catholic schools preferred to forfeit basketball games than come into his neighborhood to play.
This is not a defense of Pfleger's specific actions. It is a call to the hurtful and hateful response to pigeonhole those who have made mistakes.
Pfleger has made be think again about Samantha Power. I know the meme is to say this is Obama's next pastor problem but to me the better analogy is Power. It's not perfect. Power said something hateful in private to a reporter (which she thought was off the record) after receiving a phone call about the Texas results. She was angry and expressed it in an inappropriate way, in a way that many of us do in private. Think about the things you may say about Obama (and Clinton) in private. If no one here has never referred to another as a bitch, then you are better than me. Of course, Power wasn't just a person in private. Pfleger, on the other hand, made knowingly public comments, inappropriate comments in an inappropriate place. But Pfleger was not speaking for Obama, not even in a semi-official capacity as was Power.
What I am most disturbed by is the way in which some throw around the easy characterization of Pastor Wright and Father Pfleger as racist. I don't say this as in African Americans' can't be racist (though, again if we are being honest with ourselves, it is racism of a different kind; to dismiss the link of power with racism is disingenuous). Louis Farrakhan is a good example of white racism. For those in Chicago who know these two pastors this charge couldn't be further from the truth and it is hurtful not only to the pastors but to their churches. Yes, David Axelrod served on a committee to raise money for Pfleger's Catholic Church? Please, please tell me what is so horrible about that. This is a church that needs every cent it can raise. As for Wright's church, it is an institution in Chicago that provides a wide range of social services to many needy people. You are not just hurting Obama or the pastors but you are hurting and attacking the people of these communities. And it tremendously saddens me.
Pastor Wright is not a racist. He might better be characterized as one of the left that often focus on America's flaws to the detriment of its merits. Those of us in the progressive community are very aware of these people and groups and as a party we have rightly and wrongly been hurt politically for these tendencies. In this sense the right will likely try to continue to focus on Wright in the general especially because they don't have much else. Whether our candidate is Obama or Clinton the right will likely use personal smears and innuendo against our candidate. In no way is Hillary immune.
How sad is it that both Clinton supporters and Obama supporters have turned to attacking the other candidate using the right-wing smear machine that the Clinton's have spent so much time fighting against. I just don't get this.
I do get the anger and sadness. Inevitably this was going to happen to one side this election season precisely because of the historical nature of the candidates that are running. The first (white) woman and black man [I put white in parentheses because it does seem wrong to identify one individual by race but not the other] are serious contenders for the highest office of the USA. It would be stupid to deny the symbolism of this and the feelings that are wrapped up in this.
I said at the beginning that I condemn hate speech. But I also think it is important for those to speak out about how they really feel, to get this stuff out in the open like Obama said in Philadelphia. I'd rather have someone say that he/she won't vote for a black man/woman then watche some individuals struggle in private to find excuses for their possible vote. We don't talk about race or gender in this country or more likely white people and men don't talk about race and gender in this country.
I cringe every time I see someone half joking about how Obama "threw his white grandmother under the bus" for using the words typical white person. Well here is a confession. Again maybe I'm not as "good" as a person as others here but then again I'm just a typical white person. I live in a somewhat integrated community in Chicago with a African-American and Latino community beginning just a block away. It is a community struggling with gentrification. Well, I was walking home one day under the railway pass when I group of African-American children came through the other way. And I walked a little faster even as a knew how ridiculous this was... they were a rowdy group of middle-schoolers. Think about it. Think about the images we are fed every night on the evening news about the violence in African-American communities. (In fact, the vast majority of victims of this violence is African-Americans themselves). Be honest with yourselves. Do you ever clutch your bag closer to you? Are these reactions crazy? Or are there reasons, real or not, that make you act this way. That was the point Obama was trying to get across in talking about race. That was what was moving about his comment. His white grandmother raising a black grandson had a "gut" reaction that involves the complexities of race in this country. Those that make fun of this are the ones throwing Obama's grandmother under the bus.
Gender and race, sexism and racism have had very little intelligent discussion on mydd. It is much easier for BOTH sides to right off the other. She's using gender. He's using race. She's racist. He's sexist.
From my point of view, a point of view maybe one day I'll try to analyze and cite though it is unlikely that some here will ever agree with me, it is Clinton that has used race and gender as a planned political strategy. I've said it before and I'm saying it again. Some of it is subtle; some of it clearly isn't. While Clinton can go it front of a crowd and make a public case of her historic run and call on women to vote and support her, Obama can't. Think about the reaction if he did considering the reaction he gets from those now who thinks he plays on race.
Whether or not you agree with my take (and I recognize that many see this differently) what I can't get is those that seem to hate Obama so much that they are willing to vote for McCain. I know the most who voted for Clinton truly believed she would have been the better candidate or/and had better policies. The thing is that no one is asking you to abandon those policies (i.e., health care) in your support of Obama in the general election. In fact, because of the closeness of this election you do have a voice. I hope when this ends next week as I believe it will we can move on here and begin fighting the real "enemy" John McCain.
If you managed to read until the end, thank you.