What Would Republican Jesus Do?

So I let Chesya Burke get loose on a post here yesterday on Glenn Beck (which isn’t the first time I let someone run amuck on my blog, as my brother did his “Letter from a Former Black Conservative” not too long ago).  These days I don’t find myself nearly the political animal I once was.  I considered myself a black Republican, though my strong social justice leanings apparently made me the worst Republican ever.

Anyway, to stave off the comments/e-mails (like the ones I received after my How I’m Still Pro-Life and my No Longer Marching to the Pied Dobson pieces), I don’t care about your politics.  Seriously.  To be quite honest, I didn’t even know who Glenn Beck was.  I did used to listen to Rush Limbaugh way back in the day and figured Beck was just another in the line of agent provocateurs of that ilk.  A conservative Republican showman, more court jester to give voice to those who need the rhetoric and someone to provide fodder for The Colbert Report.  Am I missing something?  What gives me pause, as I looked Mr. Beck up, is when someone cloaks themselves in God language in order to bless their politics.

“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them…are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.” –Glen Beck

I know, I know religion and politics have been not so strange bedfellows for as long as there have been either.  I know I have attended several churches where being a champion for Jesus meant voting Republican (and I still remember the scathing message left on my Facebook Wall the day after President Obama was elected).  It always troubled me, if for no other reason than it was presented that no Christians could be, dare I say it, a Democrat (or for that matter, even a patriot), until I realized that politics trumps theology in this brand of “Christianity.”

When folks of any stripe wrap themselves in the flag and God, conflating their politics and their Christianity, I get a little antsy.  Politics and religion have different jobs to do and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for a man of faith to navigate political waters.  When people “fear” religion, this is one of the things they’re talking about.  And we’re not even talking about religion in the strictest sense anyway.* This is more about a civil religion–call it “generic Christianity” or “Christianity in name only”–than about the Gospel.  The only thing civil religion does is allow people to be united under the banner of allegiance to the United States of America … under God.

So let’s not confuse a “civil religion” with Jesus flavored rhetoric with a Jesus-shaped Gospel.  There’s a huge difference between an American civil religion/watered down Christianity vs. the kingdom of God.  The American government is not my Lord.  The Republican Party is not my God.  Politics is not my call to worship.  Jesus didn’t die for lower taxes, smaller government, pro-business policies, and an individualistic worldview.  If your religion is to mean anything, then be about the poor, the “least of these”, and then get back to me.  Until then, spare me your rallies and rhetoric.

*Speaking of unlikely bedfellows, the Glen Beck rally provided an interesting confluence of differing religious ideas:  Mormons (Beck) and Evangelicals finding themselves under the same covers (didn’t Glenn Beck even give a commemorative address at Liberty University/Jerry Falwell U) in order to accuse President Obama of being Muslim/having “a perversion of the Gospel”.

Glenn Beck = Honor?

Guest Blog by Chesya Burke

It is estimated that tens of thousands of people attended Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally on August 28th.  While I’m not exactly sure what honor Beck is trying to restore, there are a lot of “people” with whom this movement resonated.  There were thousands and thousands of them fighting for liberty, just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did forty seven years ago on the same day.  That’s right, ONLY forty seven years ago, scores of blacks and minority people were literally dying in the streets to achieve equal rights.

Beck claims that this day was chosen purely by accident—guess it was divine intervention or something, because he wants his rights restored just like King.  Beck wants to go back to a simpler time, a time when…well, blacks were dying in the streets.  Oh, he masked his message as “honor,” and he pretends that America has lost something that it never quite had in the first place, but make no mistake, Glenn Beck does not fight for injustice of marginalized people, he does not want equality.  Neither do any of the thousands of people who chose to “march” with him.

Of course Glenn Beck, like anyone else, has to right to march anywhere he likes.  The problem is his bizarre assertion to “reclaim the Civil Rights Movement.”  The two movements are not the same, and it’s very telling that Beck is trying to “take back” those whose voices were silenced throughout the history of our country.  In the past, millions of people died on ships and in bondage in order for King to be able to walk the steps of the Memorial and speak about peace.  As Beck suggest, King’s speech wasn’t totally aimed at blacks.  No, instead, it was for “relief” from those in power to accept minorities as equals.  Glenn Beck says the government is too big, but without our government’s interference many Civil Rights laws would not have been enacted.  How does Beck justify this obvious conundrum?

Let’s take a closer look at these thousands of people who willingly marched on a day that others hold sacred (even if these present day marchers don’t). Also, it’s worth noting, that while these people were willing to pay money (and lots of it) to come and demonstrate, there are others, perhaps millions more who couldn’t make it or who hold these and similar views that they have been victimized by some unknown villain.  I say that to provoke an image: imagine every single person with these ideas, everybody, every face, as a step away from the progress that MLK wanted to achieve.  After this, imagine these people will birth new children and those will produce more and so forth and so on.  For every one tower of a person that people of color climb, there are thousands more to tackle, until there is a never ending ladder of stone, cold stairs, never moving, never willing to change or accept difference. Never ending.

Glenn Beck claims to fight for justice and a lost America for all people.  However, in his speech on the Washington Memorial, he said, “recognize your place to the Creator. Realize that He is our King. He is the one who guides and directs our life and protects us.”  Forty seven years after a man named Martin Luther King made history fighting for equal rights, Glenn Beck assures his crowd that there is only one praiseworthy “King.”

Although it was only a passing sentence, Glenn Beck is known for finding associations in many seemingly non-connected things.  So, Beck of all people should understand the importance of his words.  Of course, even this may be dismissed, if there weren’t other racial, underlining messages within these parties.  “We want our country back” is often code for “We want to continue to be the dominate race and we don’t like it if that seems to change.”  The accusation of others not being “Real Americans” means within these parties “only White Americans can be real, because everyone else is “fake” if they don’t act like “I” think they should.”  “We voted for a black man as president, so by God we have to be living in a post racial society,” is code for “minorities should stop making us think about race, they are really the people who won’t let it go,” or “I don’t want to have to think about all the ways that my actions and thoughts oppress others.”

And shall we ask from whom Beck plans to reclaim the Civil Rights Movement?

As a kid, my mother always told me she preferred open bigots to those who hid and didn’t say what they felt.  I never understood this as a child, but it’s perfectly clear now.  You cannot fight what’s hidden.  This is why Glenn Beck preaches his message about peace and honor and harmony.  Because anyone who attacks him, will be attacking these virtuous traits, opposed to his true hurtful message.  Another wonderful thing for Glenn Beck is that he can gather troops for his cause and everyone can pretend that they aren’t against minorities, or gays or women or anything that threatens the status quo.

Like many people, most of the time I don’t want to talk about these issues, I don’t even want to think about them. Nobody does.  It’s easier to ignore them or pretend they don’t affect me or that those people are just ignorant.  But is this best?  Ignore them?  Pretend that it doesn’t matter that little black kids can’t run for president at some unheard of Mississippi school, or that Dr. Laura expounding the “n” word was simply a matter of being misinformed?

In the end, I remind myself that people suffer because of complacency. Sometimes they die. But mostly things never change.

Letter from a Former Black Conservative

Guest blog by Anthony Broaddus

[My brother wrote an interesting piece which he’s given me permission to post here. Because, you know, I hate to post anything even remotely controversial.]

I am a conservative at heart. I voted for either a Republican or for Perot from 1988 to 2000. Since George Bush came into office, the climate in politics has gotten ugly. Bush came into office promising to be a “Uniter….not a divider”. How ironic.

With Karl Rove leading the way, Bush had divided the country so badly that friends and family members can’t even talk about politics out of fear of a serious arguement breaking out. That would have never happened back in the 80s. Heck even arguing over BILL CLINTON never got into friends or family members literally getting into fist fights. Under Bush, only “Red States” were considered “Real America” (except when 9/11 could be exploited) while “Blue States” were America-hating Liberal socialists.

This is the politics that made me queasy. This divisive politics that was brought in with the Bush Administration.

But here is my major point. I am a Conservative on most issues. I proudly voted Republican. Then I saw all the ugliness and racism (yeah I said it) that came with their party. I always wondered why Dwight Eisenhower could get the majority of the black votes in the 50s, then up until the mid 60s, the black voters were almost nowhere to be found in the Republican Party. If you do some research on Nixon’s Southern Strategy, you will find out.

To make a long story short, Richard Nixon (with Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips advising him) made an unholy alliance with “Southern America” and totally abandoned the African American vote. Richard Nixon created this Frankenstein and Republican Candidates after him, from Reagan all the way to George W Bush took it and ran with it. Bob Dole being the exception to the rule.

Put it like this, I went to three Obama rallies in Indiana during the primaries and the crowd looked like America. Whites, blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Indians, and Asians. You go to a Republican rally and it is a sea of white faces with a few black people. It has been like this for about 45 years. Why is that?

Well here is my opinion. Dwight Eisenhower cared about civil rights for all Americans. He was the president that ordered the integration of a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas (research the “Little Rock Nine” for example).

Well, after Dwight Eisenhower left office, John Kennedy came into office and though not perfect, he supported civil rights. After his assassination, Lyndon Johnson carried out a lot of ideas that Kennedy promised to do. It was under Johnson that the Civil right Act was passed. When that law was passed, he said to a colleague, “We have lost the South for a generation”. How prophetic. He lost the South for three generations (and counting). It was also under Johnson that the Voting Rights Act was passed. Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court under Johnson as well.

Hypothetically, if Eisenhower could have gotten another term, I am 100% positive he would have passed a lot of the civil rights laws that Johnson eventually passed. Maybe then the black vote would have stayed Republican or at least be more evenly divided. But we’ll never know. I doubt that Nixon would have done a thing for civil rights if he had beaten JFK in 1960. His actions in 1968 show me that he didnt care about furthering civil rights.

In the 1950s, the Blacks were the Republican BASE. The 1960s was the era when Africans migrated to the Democratic Party. When Richard Nixon got into office, he realized that he was not going to get a huge amount of the black vote. Kennedy and Johnson won the Democratic Party a lot of cool points. So Nixon made an unholy alliance with the segregationist south called the “Southern Strategy”. One of Nixon’s advisors (Kevin Phillips) described it best:

“From now on, the Republicans are NEVER going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they DON’T NEED any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the NEGROPHOBE (ie racist) whites will quit the Democrats and BECOME REPUBLICANS. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old COMFORTABLE arrangement with the local Democrats”.

So the stars alligned (via a Democratic President passing Civil Righs Laws and Nixon’s Southern strategy) and those events made 90% of African American voters vote Democratuc over the last 50 years.

There is a reason why Ronald Reagan deliberately campaigned in Philadelphia, Missisippi in 1980. Philadelphia, Mississippi was the town where three Civil Rights workers were lynched and buried (two Jewish and one black). That town (of all places) is where Reagan stood and said “I believe in State’s rights”. If you lived in the deep south before 1965, you knew exactly what “States Rights” meant. Reagan was just keeping the “Southern Strategy” flames burning and to help keep Lyndon Johnson’s prophecy alive. Ironically, Nixon’s advisor, Pat Buchanon also became one of Reagan’s advisors. Imagine that.

Reagan had another advisor named in his Administration named Lee Atwater. We will get to him in a few paragraphs, but here is how he compared Ronald Reagan’s “kinder, gentler” 1980s version of the Southern strategy to Richard Nixon’s uncut version:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” (in public). That hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like “forced busing”, “STATES RIGHTS” and all that stuff. You’re getting so ABSTRACT that you’re now talking about CUTTING TAXES, and all these things. You’re now talking about totally economic things and a byproduct of them is that blacks get hurt worse than whites. And SUBCONSIOUSLY maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that CODED, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

After Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush kinda used the same strategy to get elected. He hired the same Lee Attwater to run his campaign. Most consider him the “father of modern day dirty divisive politics”. One of Atwater’s main pupils was a young Karl Rove. We will discuss him later.

Anyway, I believe that neither Lee Atwater nor George Herbert Walker Bush had a racist bone in their body. As a matter of fact Atwater played back-up guitar for Percey Sledge and B.B King on occasions. That being said, they knew politics. They knew they had to appeal to the same “southern voters” that voted for Reagan and Nixon.

Initially Michael Dukakis had a SEVENTEEN point lead on George HW Bush in the polls and it looked like he was going to be the next president. The Bush campaign got desperate and needed a “Hail Mary” to win. Hence the infamous “Willie Horton” add. It was the Atomic Bomb. You all know about that add. Lee Atwater said he basically wanted to make Willie Horton a “household name” (which it is to this very day). Even in 2010, you can’t think of Dukakis without thinking of Willie Horton. Well basically, that add scared whites in the suburbs and enraged whites in the south and it was one of the main reasons why George Bush was elected
President. It was kind of disappointing to find out all this stuff about George HB Bush because I loved him as my Commander in Chief when I was in the Marines. I still adore him, but his learning of his campaign leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

By the way, Lee Atwater died of Brain Cancer three years later. On his deathbed, he said that he regretted that campaign he ran in 1988.

As we skip to 2000, we see another Bush running for office. Bush had appointed Karl Rove as his campaign manager. Karl Rove had learned all his tricks from the Master, Lee Atwater. Karl Rove took things to another level and helped create the toxic environment we now currently live in. Ironically, the tactics George Bush and Karl Rove were used in the Republican Primaries against a fellow Republican.

John McCain had won the New Hampshire Primary and was favored to win in the South Carolina Primaries. If McCain wins South Carolina, he had unstoppable momentum. So Karl reached into his bag of tricks and spread the rumor that John McCain had fathered a BLACK BABY out of wedlock. That “black baby” was an orphan that he and Cindy McCain had adopted from Banglasesh. It didn’t matter. The South Carolina voters bought into it and John McCain lost South Carolina. The “Southern Strategy” flame was rekindled and John McCain paid the price. He lost all his momentum and eventually lost every southern state in the Primaries. George Bush won the nomination and the rest is history.

Like all Republican candidates before him, George Bush spoke at Bob Jones University. Bob Jones University banned interracial dating on their campus until AFTER Bush spoke there. They lifed their ban because of the backlash and media scrutiny they recieved.

During the whole Bush Administration, it has been nothing but division. Like I said earlier, ironically Bush pledged to be a “Uniter”. Instead, the only times the country has been more divided were during the Civil War and during the 1960s. You can thank the Bush Administration for that. I personally think George Bush is probably a genuinely nice person, but he surrounded himself with people that didn’t have an ounce of honor in their DNA (like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney).

The environment is to toxic and divisive. Having Right Wing Talk Radio and Fox News easing (and oozing) their way into the political environment only muddied the waters even further. Now blacks are pitted against whites, “Real America” (meaning Red States) are pitted against “Fake Marxist America” (Blue States).

You listen to talk radio and Fox “News” and whether it is from Rush, Coulter, Malkin, Sean Hannity, or whoever and it some of the most vile stuff you will ever hear. I go to the Hannity Message boards and they echo Rush Limbaugh’s views on African Americans. According to them (or a majority of them), the ONLY reasons African Americans vote Democratic is that Democrats give us free handouts. Also according to them, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are our “leaders”.

So basically the majority of African Americans are Democrats because we are lazy and can’t think for themselves? I bet a LOT of white Republicans have been thinking like this for generations and now they have some people that will voice these opinions over the airwaves and into their televisions. How simplistic and dismissive can you get?

So unlike what Rush, Hannity, and their followers (ignorantly) say, blacks didnt just say all of a sudden say “hey lets all vote Democrat because theyre now passing out Government Cheese and other free houndouts to us negros”.

Like I also said earlier, I regretted voting for George Bush and I haven’t voted Republican since 2000 (on the national level). I went to three Obama rallies here in Indiana and you could see every color in the rainbow. You go to Republican rallies and you can spot out the ten blacks out of the thousands in their rallies. I always wondered why.

I live in a “middle class” neighborhood where the houses are worth between $100,000 and 250,000. I also have friends that live in the black suburbs where the houses are worth MILIONS. The thing these neighborhoods have in common is there are Obama signs all through their yards, so it can’t be because of Government handouts, can it? I’m sure those blacks that live in those huge houses didn’t get to where they are at by listening to Al Sharpton either. I know that I didn’t and I consider myself to be living the “American Dream”. So what gives?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Conservatives have good theories. Nothing wrong with “family values”, lowering taxes and being fiscally responsible (even though there hasnt been a fiscally responsible president in more than fifty years). Economically, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams make a TON of sense to me.

It’s not the MESSAGE, it worked with African Americans when Eisenhower was President. It is the MESSENGERS and the history. African Americans have very long memories and we pass history down from generation to generation. We haven’t forgotten which party passed all the major Civil Right laws. We also haven’t forgotten which party totally abandoned us to cater to the “southern vote”.

African Americans that vote Democrat also notice that the Pat Buchanons, Bill O’Reileys, Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters, Sean Hannitys, and the Glenn Becks of the world all flock to the “conservative” side. The same guys and gals that say blacks vote for Democrats are lazy, love handouts, and can’t think for themselves. The same people that dismiss and sterotype a whole race of people.

Maybe these are the reasons why blacks have voted 90% Democratic since the 1960s. That won’t change any time soon and won’t change after Obama is out of office in 2016.

In my opinion things will never change because the history is too deep and to be honest, only a few Republicans have even tried to court the black vote. One is Jack Kemp and the other is Mike Huckabee (who got 47% of the black vote when running for Governor). Unfortunately Jack Kemp died last year and Mike Huckabee made that stupid comment at the NRA Convention about someone SHOOTING Barack Obama.

I know that “Politics make strange bedfellows”. How comfortable are the African Americans here with your fellow “conservative” talk show hosts dismissing blacks as sheep? Or do you agree with them? Or better yet, how did you feel when you went to You Tube and saw Republican rallies where people brought in Monkeys to Sarah Palin rallies (some with nooses around them) that had Obama pins on them? Did you notice all the people around them thinking it was funny? Was that funny to you?

How about when that Republican was circulating a picture of the “new Obama White House Lawn” and it was a garden with nothing but watermelons in it? How about the picture of the new “Obama Dollah” and it is a Welfare Check with Barack Obama’s picture in the middle? Is that funny to you? These are your bedfellows, your fellow “Conservatives”. These are the same guys who wore shirts saying “Keep the White House White”. Do you think these Republicans respect you? Do you think they respect Michael Steele? I don’t.

My question is how much do you embrace the divisive retoric that Rush spew or do you just listen to “the good parts”?

Do I think the Republican Party is filled with racists? Absolutely not. Do I think the Democratic Party are filled with Martin Luther Kings? That’s laughable. Hillary Clinton ran a despicable campaign that would have made Nixon proud. Hillary and her “First Black President” will never get back the cool points they lost among a lot of people. I’m glad the good prevailed over that mess.

Your party doesn’t even bother to court African Americans. Just like in 1968, you have written off a whole race of people. It’s quite a shame that there are no Jack Kemps on the national level. He was for tax cuts in urban areas and even wanted to speak at the Million Man March. Imagine that.

So in my opinion, the way your party to get back
the African American vote is to:

1. COURT THEM!! (duh)
2. Get as far away from the Southern Strategy as possible.
3. Distance yourselves from Talk Radio personalities.

But the Republicans won’t do that and will mainly be a “Whites Only” club. They will screw around and make the Hispanics vote in the same percentages as African Americans. That hurts the Republicans because the Hispanics will be the majority of the US population within a generation.

These are the same Hispanics that turned Republican strongholds (like Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, my state of Indiana, Iowa, Virginia, and North Carolina) into Obama states in 2008. There are huge Hispanic Populations in these states and they will only get bigger. Could you imagine Texas not voting Republican? I can.They have long memories too. They will remember being dismissed and all lumped together as “illegals” who sneak over the border to get on Welfare. Your party has a reputation of stereotyping whole races.

The point of this super long message is that until your party ditches your Southern Strategy and dumps the Rush Limbaughs and Glen Becks of the world, your party will continue to only get 5% of the African vote and a “Black Conservatives” Facebook page will only have only 200+ members (1/3 of which happen to be white) instead of having 10,000 members.

Unfortunately, the Southern Strategy has been embedded into the Republican Party and the Rush Limbaughs arent going anywhere. That is sad for your party and it is sad for America.

O Harry: Because Sometimes Your Friends are Ignorant

It’s always a tricky bit of navigation when your friends say or do something ignorant. I remember a couple of occasions in church, I was attending a mostly white church at the time, and one of the members patted me on head. On another occasion, the pastor compared me to “a faithful dog” from the pulpit. For better or worse, I chalked those things up to well-meaning, but ignorant gestures. Perhaps she didn’t get the memo that the whole rub the head of a black guy has some pretty racist origins or maybe he didn’t get that comparing black folks to animals might not play well considering a history or dehumanization. I often got the “you’re the whitest black guy I know” (which I often heard as “you’re the only black guy I know and I only associate with you because you sound and seem to act a lot like me so you don’t scare me”) because I don’t “sound” black.

Which is why it didn’t exactly shock me that Senator Harry Reid had described Obama—as reported in the new political gossip book, “Game Change” by John Heileman and Mark Halperin—as a “light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” There was a steady chorus of people who bought into the idea that “the first black president” is actually not black.* The comments were being made on both sides of the political aisle and from across the spectrum of race. The “am I black enough for you” debate even raged in the black community (Reverend Jesse Jackson says what?).**

Race is the third rail in politics, in the church, and, well, most of our lives. If there is to be any hope of reconciliation, there has to be a sharing and hearing of stories and some of the conversations are going to be tough (and, as a friend of mine points out, you can’t have a conversation about anything by starting it with “Your voice doesn’t count.”) Now, I know some Republicans want to make hay of this incident, calling folks on the seeming-hypocrisy of Senator Trent Lott having to step down over his comments versus the gymnastics folks do to defend someone they like. And they’d have a point, except that conversations about race shouldn’t happen in a vacuum, but rather have a context. (Though, seriously, Senator Lott, how do you think trying to spin someone’s segregationist past is a good idea or that it wouldn’t get you into trouble? But again, if you have built up a lot of good will, you can step into such firestorms to make the point you thought you were making because friends can have those kind of tough conversations. If you don’t have that kind of good will built up…]

Every few years we have these sort of dust ups, so we were about due. Not too long ago we had Don Imus referring to the women of the Rutgers basketball team as “some nappy-headed hos.” After so many offenses, he rather struck me as an equal opportunity offender, but it led to the conversation about how there are some words and phrases “off limits” to certain folks in certain contexts and the situation resolved by the offended parties speaking up and reprimands given.

We also had Kelly Tilghman, play-by-play announcer for The Golf Channel’s PGA Tour broadcasts, while bantering with Nick Faldo about young players who might challenge Woods suggesting that they “lynch him in a back alley.” In short, it’s stupid and you can’t say it. However, I don’t think she should have been suspended. I think her apology should have stood on its own, she should have been simply reprimanded, and the conversations had about why what she said was a poor choice of words. We can’t police every bad sentence, because that would stifle conversations that still need to be had.

“I’ve apologized to the president, I’ve apologized to everyone that within the sound of my voice that I could have used a better choice of words,” Reid has said. Apologies happen for a reason. Sometimes folks simply don’t get that what they did was hurtful or demeaning and their apologies should stand and be accepted on their face value (even if the incidents themselves aren’t forgotten because we know that forgiveness takes time). Just like folks ought to be judged by their deeds and track record.

Just because folks are your friends doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of saying and doing ignorant things. Just like I’m sure there will be another RaceFail conversation in the genre fiction world as we muddle through what it means to live with one another, deal with the history of hurts with of one another, be different from one another, and respect one another.

*Now, I can’t wait to see the gymnastics folks do if President Bill Clinton’s alleged comment about President Obama—“ a few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”—prove to be accurate. After all, President Clinton was widely held as our “first black president.”

** Better to discuss this than the reality of what it means to be black in America, dealing with what W.E.B. DuBois called the “double consciousness” of black folks. How many of us may “act” or “speak” one way when we are in professional settings and then another when we’re at home or in a “safe” place.

[That and sometimes our “friends” are just too ignorant for words: “I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived,” ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said to Esquire Magazine. “I saw it all growing up.”] With a h/t to the blackfolks LJ:

Obama and FaceBook Love

November 3, 2008
The Day Before
By Linda D. Addison

On the other side of this day
when voting is done,
counting finished, America
will be different,
history will document
this country
standing for
equality in a way
than can never be
denied again, in the face
of our own declarations
we will make a step
to Equality for all.

Remember this day
you will be different
whether you want to or not,
agree or not,
we have said
we stand for equality
for all, tomorrow
it will be closer to

With a Democratic House and Senate, I’m curious to see what all he accomplishes. Regardless, now, as always, I pray for our president and our nation. Of course, I immediately got this bit of love on my FaceBook wall:

Rejoice while you can. you sold your soul and for what? A black president? I’m all for a black president but no one, of any race, that stands for what he stands for should be in power. America will now to be run by a man who delights in MURDERING babies, a terrorist sympathizer (but wait the dwelling place is arrogant enough to think you’ve replaced Israel), & he’s a socialist. Well I hope it works out. As far as I’m concerned, America is gone, the values are gone, God has judged us, and everyone who sold their soul to the devil will rejoice for a time but one day God will restore Israel to their rightful place as His firstborn, the Jews will be exalted, any true Christians left will be in a new heaven & new Earth & everyone who sided with evil will be held accountable. So all the obama supporters should rejoice while they can b/c one day they will all pay the price of killing 40 million babies, cursing Israel, fighting for gay rights which is an abomination to God. good luck with that

Um. Yeah. Another satisfied Dobson customer. If you play by the politics of fear, then it should be no surprise when your people run scared.

So I’ll close out this political season by leaving you with Brian Keene’s The Day After: ‘We The People…’ and Feo Amante’s My Guy Lost and …

Not Dancing to the Tune of the Pied Dobson

Up until a few months ago, I was still getting political forwards in my e-mail inbox. In light of a few posts, I quit getting them, however, my wife had no such luck and received the letter from 2012 from James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. Ok, I’ll admit, James Dobson’s antics this political season have been getting on my nerves for a while (and this isn’t including the time he went after SpongeBob SquarePants). This fictional letter is written by a Christian from 2012 informing readers of the horrors that may happen if Barack Obama is elected president. I’m officially dubbing this letter Project Fail (and I’ll lump into it this project all of the tactics of fear-mongering and race baiting).

We get it in our heads that one political party speaks for Christendom. I have no problem with our spirituality informing our politics, but have huge problems with our politics informing our spirituality. When politics becomes our religion, with only two agenda points that all “right thinking Christians”/“True Believers” need to base their vote on: abortion and gay marriage. We position leaders to whom we look to for salvation. Their stump speeches become sermons. Their rallies serve as revival meetings.

It cuts both ways. There are black churches that condemn Republicans as evil (and black Republicans as sell outs) and white churches that proclaim that the Republican agenda God’s agenda, and anyone against it amoral, irreligious, or anti-God. I’ve been to Republican and Democratic meetings and found them both attended by people who love this country and seek its best interests (and both opened their meetings in prayer, but this is Indiana).

As a church-cum-political action committee, we’ve been out to amass and wield power. This is the epitome of being of the world and conforming to its ways. I chalk up Project Fail as the last gasp of the Christian right as we’ve known it, though I fully expect 2012 to bring us a new brand of conservative. I’ve been doing some thinking about the idea of the Christian right and how they’ve framed a lot of the discussion about Christianity and politics, and I’ve come to a few conclusions:

1) Have you ever wondered that whenever folks talk about the Christian right, what “the church” should be doing, and Evangelicals in general, that maybe they should just say “white, conservative Evangelicals”? With the size of the black church in America, do you really think “all right thinking Christians” jumped on the Reagan/Bush/Gingrich bandwagon?

2) Religion informing politics is not a bad idea … on paper. In practice is where things become muddled. Actually, they only become muddled when the idea becomes prescriptive rather than descriptive. Here’s what I mean. I have spiritual beliefs that have defined my political views on things. I’m pro-life. I believe we need to be stewards of the environment. I believe we ought to be about “the least of these” (the poor, widows, children, etc). Now HOW we’re to accomplish those things are up for debate. I can’t just say “all right thinking Christians need to define pro-life ‘this way’ and we can only accomplish the end goal of our position with ‘this method.'”

3) There’s the rise of Christian left. I’m talking about the Brian McLarens, the Shane Clairbornes, the Jim Wallis’ of the world. I don’t think this is either good or bad (as jumping into bed with Democrats is no better a solution than jumping in bed with Republicans). What this does accomplish is re-frame the discussion so that there’s not just “one Christian way” to do things. there can be other ideas and actions that can be just as much Christian.

In the fervor of the election season, I can’t help but be reminded of the Old Testament Israelites who clamored for a king. They had some good kings and some bad kings, often getting the leader they deserved. I don’t look to politics to solve many of our problems, no matter who is in office. The church is not a political action committee. The church has a mission, a missio dei, God’s mission. The church needs to be about manifesting God’s love in sacrificial service to the world. We’ll soon know who the new leader of our country is and whoever it is, I will remember two things: 1) to pray for him and 2) that God is sovereign.

The Political News Cycle (pics only edition)

My take home lesson from the debates.

Colin rocks it out. Then announces his endorsement.

Got it.

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Yes, I’m Still Pro-Life. Are You?

So in light of my black Republican yet pro-Obama stance, the number one question I’ve been asked of late is “I thought you were pro-life?” My stance on the issue isn’t that different from Senator Obama’s. I fear a ban would force women to seek unsafe abortions. I am also not going to be the one to tell a woman she can’t have an abortion in the case of rape or her life being in danger. I would rather reduce the number of women who feel the need to have abortions in the first place. But I don’t stop there.

A lot of those babies folks work themselves into a tizzy to see born are put up for adoption, enter our foster system, or otherwise become neglected. It’s like most folks quit caring for them once they are here. If we’re to be true pro-lifers, we need to always be about the “least of these”, the poor, the exploited, the abused, the abandoned. For those focused on their Christian duty to have as many kids as possible, to “have a full quiver” as it were, if you have room in your quiver we need to be the first to be adopting babies.

None of my pro choice friends cheer for more abortions though they are demonized as holding that position. The abortion issue is not my litmus test for politicians because I don’t see Roe vs. Wade overturning or necessarily want it to be, if I’m being completely honest. I am very much about letting people have choices, and a bad choice should be folks option (and back alley abortions does no one any good).

However, in this day and age, with contraception being so easy and relatively inexpensive, it’s far more safe and humane to prevent pregnancy rather than terminate one. The whole abortion as contraception thing bothers me to the core. Late-term abortions are pretty much indefensible.
Abortion is a moral issue, a battle that needs to be waged on the level of the individual, not legislatively (though if folks want to be done with it as an issue, it should be put to amendment vote).

So yes, I’m still pro-life. I still believe life begins at conception, but being pro-life means that I don’t stop worrying about kids once they’re born. Being pro-life means I don’t get to move away from all “the problems” of the city and build personal compounds in the suburbs. It means that all life is valuable, the unborn, the underserved, the abandoned, the forgotten. Here’s the bottom line, a nuanced position is hard to encapsulating into a bumper sticker.

Black Republicans and Obama

I’m a black Republican. I know what you think that means (<–). Politically I think I lean to the right, though apparently my love for social justice and environmental concerns doesn’t allow me to exist there comfortably. I believe in personal responsibility and the community taking care of its poor. I’m a capitalist who believes that with great wealth comes great responsibility, and spending has to be tempered with compassion. I think that Democrats take the black vote for granted and the Republicans have written off the black vote. And I want my taxes cut.

Here’s the thing: apparently the Republicans don’t want my vote. Despite the fact that the country rapidly diversifies, the Republican convention far from reflected that. Only 36 of the 2,380 delegates seated on the convention floor were black, the lowest numbers since they have been tracked. We saw visual evidence of no black Republican having served as governor, senator, or house member in the last six years. On a personal level, the historical significance of casting a vote for the first legitimate black presidential candidate hasn’t been lost on me.

But I’m not going to vote for someone just because of their color. I could only imagine the outrage if a white person, regardless of party, announced they were voting for a white candidate because of a white pride moment.

I still find myself comfortable with the idea of voting for Obama since his message of change and hope resonate with me and I’m a big fan of intelligent candidates displaying their intelligence, not condescending to play at being “the average Joe” when clearly anyone running for the Presidency has long been removed from the story of the average American. It’s not like I have abandoned my values. I’m still pro-life, lower taxes, strong defense and strong families. I think the main reason I’m comfortable with the prospect of President Obama is because I’m tired of political labels over-simplifying people’s positions. The label put on me is pro-life, but that simplifies my more nuanced position. I don’t know anyone who advocates America having a weak defense. And I don’t know any candidate that runs on a weak family platform.

President Bush captured 8 % of the black vote in 2000 and 11% in 2004. Maybe the Republicans are writing off the black vote moreso than usual this year. Still, if they’re not going to try, they have less room to complain when we don’t show up at the table. I’m a black Republican, but I’m more than my label. Memo to both parties: black votes count.

The Obama Rally – If I had Tweeted It

8:20 a.m. My brother arrives to pick me up and immediately hates that my Obama shirt is cooler than his.

9:00 a.m. We arrive at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Slight hitch in our plan: we were hoping that black folks would be on C.P. time. But no, everyone was on white people time today.

9:10 a.m. We found the line.

9:20 a.m. The line is still going.

9:25 a.m. I stopped to have my picture taken for the 4th time.

9:30 a.m. The child behind us proclaims “Daddy! The line finally ended!”

9:35 a.m. My brother threatens to kick a kid in the head for not liking his shirt as much as mine.

9:40 a.m. Gates open early. The volunteers are thorough. We were checked every five feet for stickers, tickets, and voting early.

10:15 a.m. Seated. After more pics were taken of me.

10:30 a.m. I’m enjoying George Pelecanos’ Down by the River Where the Dead Men God. Nick Stefanos isn’t as cool as his Derek Strange character, but it’s an all right ride.

10:45 a.m. Random “Yes We Can” outburst. I figure it’s the equivalent of doing the wave at a Colt’s game.

10:50 a.m. Waiting for folks to notice that the crowd on the bleachers behind where Obama will be speaking is too white.

10:51 a.m. Made that observation aloud and got Amen-ed.

11:00 a.m. Come on now. Didn’t we agree on a moratorium on playing “Celebration” at events?

11:10 a.m. Andre Carson waved to the crowd. Crowd goes nuts.

11:25 a.m. I’m really craving deep-fried anything at this point.

11:30 a.m. The handlers took a few soldiers (of color) from the Obama Mosh Pit and put them in the bleachers.

11:45 a.m. The Obama bus pulls in.

11:47 a.m. The Obama Mosh Pit starts changing “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry” prior to Col. Jerry leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

11:55 a.m. The Democratic Gubernatorial nominee spoke. A lamb to the Mitch Daniel’s slaughter (my casual straw poll indicated that no one around me was sure of her name). We’ll see just how long Obama’s coat tails are.

12:00.m. Andre Carson continues the legacy of the Carson Family Juggernaut. Young. Handsome. Charismatic. Great speaker. And his wife’s the vice principal at my boys’ school.

12:30 p.m. Evan Bayh is greeted like a rock star.

12:45 p.m. OBAMA!!!

12:50 p.m. Loud anti-Obama guy gets seriously shouted down (and apparently escorted out)

1:03 p.m. We’re having church now.

1:10 p.m. Obama holds back the rain with a wave of his hand.

1:20 p.m. Obama wraps it up.

1:30 p.m. More pics are taken of me.

1:45 p.m. Stuck in the Obama jam.

Take home lessons: Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat to carry Indiana. Our state is very much in play this year (a bad sign for the Republicans). The economic crisis may be John McCain’s October surprise. And getting folks high on good will and a positive vibe definitely beats playing to folks’ fear and racism. Hope is a powerful aphrodisiac. My brother is still nursing his man-crush on Obama.

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