12/22/2008

Obama A Cool and Calculating Bigot?

Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.Image via WikipediaJohn Cloud, writing at Time, makes some very lucid observations on Barack Obama and why no one should have been caught off guard by his choice of Rick Warren.

Gays and lesbians are angry that Barack Obama has honored Warren, but they shouldn't be surprised. Obama has proved himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot. He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the nonpedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships. He did throughout his campaign, one that featured appearances by Donnie McClurkin, a Christian entertainer who preaches that homosexuals can become heterosexuals.

Obama reminds me a little bit of Richard Russell Jr., the longtime Senator from Georgia who — as historian Robert Caro has noted — cultivated a reputation as a thoughtful, tolerant politician even as he defended inequality and segregation for decades. Obama gave a wonderfully Russellian defense of Warren on Thursday at a press conference. Americans, he said, need to "come together" even when they disagree on social issues. "That dialogue is part of what my campaign is all about," he said. Russell would often use the same tactic to deflect criticism of his civil rights record. It was a distraction, Russell said, from the important business of the day uniting all Americans. Obama also said today that he is a "fierce advocate for equality" for gays, which is — given his opposition to equal marriage rights — simply a lie. It recalls the time Russell said, "I'm as interested in the Negro people of my state as anyone in the Senate. I love them."

Many gays I know gave money to Obama, which mystified me. The favored explanation was that he doesn't "really" believe gays shouldn't be allowed to marry; he just has to say that in order to win. People seemed to feel that once he had won, he would find a way — in his contemplative style — to help convince Americans that gay people really do deserve basic equality. Instead, he has found a way to insult gay people deeply.

Cloud goes on to question why LGBT people supported Obama with time and money in the first place. He has a point. I sent a small donation, all I could afford because I thought he was the best man for the job. Although, I didn't agree with his position about marriage (he's opposed) I felt he was open minded enough to at least not work actively against the issue and to promote equality in other ways. Now I see that I was royally punked. Man, I could use that money back too.

Read Cloud's entire article at Time.


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