aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, January 16, 2006
Reed between the lines II
Ralph in the WaPo today:
[A] torrent of e-mails revealed during the investigation [show] a side of Reed that some former supporters say cannot be reconciled with his professed Christian values.
“After reading the e-mail, it became pretty obvious he was putting money before God,” said Phil Dacosta, a Georgia Christian Coalition member who had initially backed Reed. “We are righteously casting him out.”
Among those e-mails was one from Reed to Abramoff in late 1998: “I need to start humping in corporate accounts! . . . I’m counting on you to help me with some contacts.” Within months, Abramoff hired him to lobby on behalf of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, who were seeking to prevent competitors from setting up facilities in nearby Alabama.
In 1999, Reed e-mailed Abramoff after submitting a bill for $120,000 and warning that he would need as much as $300,000 more: “We are opening the bomb bays and holding nothing back.”
In 2004, when the casino payments to Reed were disclosed, Reed issued a statement declaring “no direct knowledge of their [Abramoff’s law firm’s] clients or interests.” In 2005, however, Senate investigators released a 1999 e-mail from Abramoff to Reed explicitly citing the client: “It would be really helpful if you could get me invoices [for services performed] as soon as possible so I can get Choctaw to get us checks ASAP.”
One of the most damaging e-mails was sent by Abramoff to partner Michael Scanlon, complaining about Reed’s billing practices and expenditure claims: “He is a bad version of us! No more money for him.”
Foner rejects the now-standard progressive narrative of American history, in which emancipation and Reconstruction mark “the logical fulfillment of a vision originally articulated by the founding fathers.” Indeed, as he says, the original Constitution never mentions the concept of equality, and “limiting the privileges of citizenship to white men had long been intrinsic to the practice of American democracy.” Reconstruction, he continues, was “less a fulfillment of the Revolution’s principles than a radical repudiation of the nation’s actual practice of the previous seven decades.”
American political culture of the 19th century, Foner writes, rested on federalism, limited government, local autonomy and deeply rooted ideas about the superiority of whites to blacks and men to women.
King on race, speaking near the Wisconsin village of Green Lake, at a 1956 conference of the American Baptist Assembly and American Home Mission Agencies:
“I understand that there are Christians among you who try to justify segregation on the basis of the Bible,” King’s exposition of “Paul’s Letter to American Christians” continued. “They argue that the Negro is inferior by nature because of Noah’s curse upon the children of Ham. Oh my friends, this is blasphemy. This is against everything that the Christian religion stands for. I must say to you as I have said to so many Christians before, that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Moreover, I must reiterate the words that I uttered on Mars Hill: ‘God that made the world and all things therein . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.’
“So Americans I must urge you to get rid of every aspect of segregation,” the letter continued. “The broad universalism standing at the center of the gospel makes both the theory and practice of segregation morally unjustifiable. Segregation is a blatant denial of the unity which we all have in Christ. It substitutes an “I-it” relationship for the “I-thou” relationship. The segregator relegates the segregated to the status of a thing rather than elevate him to the status of a person. The underlying philosophy of Christianity is diametrically opposed to the underlying philosophy of segregation, and all the dialectics of the logicians cannot make them lie down together.”
Change “the Negro is inferior by nature” to “the homosexual is a sinner by nature” and you’ll catch my drift…
I’m no Civil War historian, but I agree with Columbia University historian Eric Foner that race relations in today’s American South might be dramatically different—and better—if Reconstruction had been handled differently. In fact, I would extend that dramatic difference to all of America, because though the roots of that problem are here, the consequences extend today to all of America.
One should be cautious about drawing parallels between the vastly different societies of America in 1865 and America in 2005 (and Foner never does so directly). But in both cases, we see a society so sharply divided along racial and cultural lines that it encompasses opposing and indeed incompatible worldviews. Undoubtedly it’s simplistic to reduce the now trite “red-vs.-blue” division of the 21st century to an extended Civil War hangover, but it’s not completely misguided either.
The age of emancipation and Reconstruction saw an explosive collision between federal and state power, and between Congress and the White House. It saw the federal government intervene in local affairs to serve as the protector of a persecuted minority group’s civil rights, and saw local regimes of low taxation and limited government used as a smokescreen for reestablishing white supremacy and traditional oligarchy. Along the way, it remade the landscape of electoral politics, shaping both major political parties into recognizable precursors of their modern selves. And as Du Bois tried to remind the 20th century, it asked still-unanswered questions about whether freedom for African-Americans—or any other Americans—signified more than the freedom to sell their labor rather than have it beaten out of them. [...]
Five years ago, we heard a great deal about the the disputed presidential election of 1876, in which Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner despite receiving 250,000 fewer votes than Democrat Samuel Tilden. As part of the final compromise that put Hayes in the White House, Tilden extracted a promise that federal troops would be withdrawn from the South and full local autonomy reestablished. In practice, this meant that political control of the region rapidly reverted to white Democrats, and more specifically to the same tiny class of wealthy white landowners who had dominated the South before the Civil War. In some areas, blacks continued to vote, and black Republicans continued to hold office, as late as the 1890s. But Reconstruction was over, and a long, dark period in American history was just beginning.
What lay ahead were the Jim Crow segregation laws, the rise of widespread lynching and the reborn “homegrown terrorism” of the Klan, often acting as a de facto arm of local government. For African-Americans, the age of freedom promised after emancipation was delayed for almost a century, until the “second Reconstruction” of the civil rights movement.
STAHL: You have two little girls.
Ms. HUFFMAN: Yes.
STAHL: Is this the best experience of your life, being a mommy?
Ms. HUFFMAN: No. No. And I resent that question, because I think it puts women in an untenable position. Because unless I say to you, `Oh, Lesley, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done with my whole life,’ I’m considered a bad mother. And just when I took--I said no, you went back.
Would Mike Wallace ask Tom Cruise if the best experience of his life is being a “daddy?” Would John “If men are expected to be parents with equal responsibilities, shouldn’t they at least be allowed to discuss whether to have a child?” Tierney?
UPDATE: Felicity wins Best Actress Golden Globel.