Thursday, January 22, 2009

three open letters

Dear Pres. Obama,

While I was happy and proud that it was even possible for you to be elected and live past your swearing-in, I must admit that I am concerned about the possibility that your administration will be Clinton 2.0. We just got done with Reagan 2.0, and that basically finished what Reagan started over 20 years ago and what Bush and Clinton aided and abetted. I understand the need to have advisors who know how Washington works. It's just the sheer number of them who served under Pres. Clinton that's worrying. A lot of them had roles, be the direct or indirect, in the current mess we're in.

Also, it is good that you at least profess concern for LGBs and trans people. However, talk is cheap; action requires the use of political capital. Are we worth that cost to you? Bear in mind that the last attempt to "help" got us Don't Ask, Don't Tell (they always do forget the last two parts of that: Don't Harass, Don't Pursue) and an increased number of discharges of LGB people due to a tenuous and vague definition of what exactly "telling" is. In the middle of two wars and in an era of heightened tension with the Arab world, discharging several dozen Arabic translators for having the nerve to not be heterosexual is not only mean-spirited, it's effectively cutting off your nose to spite your face. When it's perfectly acceptable to allow more convicted criminals, members of white supremacist groups, and people without GEDs or high school diplomas than a highly qualified gay person with no criminal record into the military, that is indicative of a fucked up hierarchy. I still think the selection of Rick Warren, a man who supports government-sponsored oppression of gays and their allies (I don't even want to know what you'd have done to trans people) and the request by your people not to air Gene Robinson's prayer truly demonstrated your lack of concern about LGBT people. I would like to think that those decisions were not made with regard to the implications. After all, with an economic implosion, who has time to vet the entertainers at the inauguration to make sure they're not bigoted assholes who'd cheerfully support the oppression of all that is not heterosexual and cisgendered/cissexual?

But there are bigger things to worry about, and I'm willing to bet that most of the white gays who were crying foul about Rick Warren know as little about the situations in Nigeria and Uganda as you do.

While I voted for you, I am not all that hopeful. At best, your administration will curtail some of the bleeding. At worst, it'll be a whole lot of misguided efforts to "help" everyday people that end up screwing over the most vulnerable and worst off. Your ideas about rebuilding the economy from the bottom up are good, but I'll believe you when I see things happening.

All that said, I must admit that I was proud to see my people truly excited and hopeful about politics. At work, I see people of all ages wearing shirts with your picture on them and hats with your name on them. It's not often that you'll see black people my age and our elders agree on something so strongly. Even in my cynicism there is a glimmer of hope that someone will be inspired by your example and aspire to something greater than a GED or high school diploma and a job with the temp agency at the nearest distribution center. I don't believe that your administration will rescue us from the deep grave we've dug for ourselves with the assistance of corporations and CEOs, but I do believe that the example you've set will rescue at least a few people from my generation and younger from the belief that their background precludes a career in law, medicine, politics, or even community organizing.

And please remember that just because there's a D beside your name does not make you exempt from being held accountable, contrary to what many of the apologists have been saying.


Dear ABC,


One of your inaugural parade commentators actually said "And Rick Warren is a very open-minded person...he and Melissa Etheridge have invited each other to dinner, and he took the anti-gay stuff off his website" and later added "Plus, Obama did invite the gay bishop Gene Robinson".

Revisionism != progressiveness
Tokenism != progressiveness

What is this "open mindedness" of which she speaks? Changing a website takes all of two minutes, if that. It's not exactly a long process. The same cannot be said of changing beliefs.

And this is the same Rick Warren who supports a man (archbishop Peter Akinola) who has pushed for the Nigerian government to jail gay people and not "just" those who have gay sex, but also gay people and their allies who organize. Another Warren crony in Africa, Ugandan minister Martin Ssempa, has crippled HIV/AIDS prevention efforts by publicly burning condoms, distributing literature claiming that condoms are flawed and can't prevent HIV, and effectively silencing those who promote the ABC (abstinence, be faithful, use condoms) method of prevention, all the while trumpeting this crap as "HIV prevention". This is the same Rick Warren who used Hitler and Mao as examples to aspire to.

And it is interesting that your commentator never brought up the fact that Robinson's prayer was not broadcast on either HBO or NPR; currently HBO and the Inaugural Committee are pointing fingers at each other.


Dear apologists for Rick Warren, et al.,

I have a feeling that you wouldn't have been so charitable toward Bush or McCain had either of them done this at an inauguration. See my note above about party status not exempting someone from accountability.

And keep this quote in mind:

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction"--Blaise Pascal

In Annoyance and WTFery,

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