aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, March 21, 2008
Jeremiah Wright - in Macon; on Gays
Wright’s in the news in Macon for a planned October church* visit just days before the November election:
“I’m sort of echoing what Barack Obama said, I’m not going to disown him, no more than I would disown America,” [St. Paul AME Church Pastor Ronald] Slaughter said.
During Macon Mayor Robert Reichert’s inauguration, he credited Wright for giving him vision for moving the city forward during an earlier visit to Macon.
Mayor Reichert is white:
“He may say some provocative and insensitive things,” Reichert said Thursday. “But overall his message is wonderful!”
Some accuse Wright of making racially inflammatory and unpatriotic remarks, but both these men will tell you people are missing the bigger message.
“I think we need to focus on the body of work that this man has accomplished, not on 30 second sound bites,” said Slaughter.
“It’s bad enough to take 30 seconds out of 1 sermon and concentrate on it,” Reichert said. “What do you mean? What did you say before that? What did you say after that? How does it all fit in? It’s even worse when you select this out of 20 years worth of sermons.”
As a leader, Wright defied convention at every turn. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, he recalled a time during the 1970s when the UCC decided to ordain gay and lesbian clergy. At its annual meeting, sensitive to the historic discomfort some blacks have with homosexuality, gay leaders reached out to black pastors.
At that session, Wright heard the testimony of a gay Christian and, he said, he had a conversion experience on gay rights. He started one of the first AIDS ministries on the South Side and a singles group for Trinity gays and lesbians-a subject that still rankles some of the more conservative Trinity members, says Dwight Hopkins, a theology professor at the University of Chicago and a church member.
Huckabee right on Obama and Wright
I have been talking to students about the Obama speech on race all week.
A mixed bag, to say the least. No easy summing up except to say that for a variety of reasons I’ve not been able to sit with any of them through the whole speech (and I wouldn’t say those I’m working with are particularly eager to—it’s long by YouTube standards). They are far more offended by Wright than I’d have expected of a generation that listens to offensive rap lyrics, plays games like grand theft auto, and watches some of the vulgar, offensive and violent movies and cable shows that are out there.
I was as surprised to find at least one religious conservative who votes Republican and emphatically stressed that she is not an Obama supporter say that just because the candidate’s preacher said something controversial, Obama should not be held responsible for the words of his preacher. She seemed to take offense at the idea that she would be held accountable for every word her preacher might utter. It makes me wonder how many other people there are like her around here.
I wonder that especially as I read the transcript of Mike Huckabee’s appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” from Wednesday. You’ll remember that Huckabee was the Republican who carried Georgia in the February primary and that he is himself a Southern Baptist preacher. His topic was Obama’s speech:
“Obama has handled this about as well as anybody could. And I agree, it’s a very historic speech. I think that it was an important one, and one that he had to deliver. And he couldn’t wait. The sooner he made it, maybe the quicker that this becomes less of the issue. Otherwise, it was the only thing that was the issue in his entire campaign. And I thought he handled it very, very well. [...]
“As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say â€˜That’s a terrible statement’ - I grew up in a very segregated South.
“And I think that you have to cut some slack - and I’m going to be probably the only conservative in America who’s going to say something like this, but I’m just telling you - we’ve got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie, you have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant, you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus.
“And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment, and you have to just say, â€˜I probably would, too.’”
Emphasis mine. This may be the first time on this blog that I favorably quote Mike Huckabee.
Arianna beats Drudge
Could it be a digital indicator that the Blue states are taking back ground from the Red onesâ€“at least in cyberspace?
In February, for the first time ever, Arianna Huffington’s liberal political mega-blog and news site, the Huffington Post, has apparently surpassed the longtime mighty blog leader, Matt Drudge of the conservative /populist- leaning Drudge Report, according to recent traffic data reports from both comScore and Nielsen Online. (Both are pictured here.)
According to data from Nielsen Online, for example, the Huffington Post’s trafficâ€“as measured by monthly unique visitors in the U.S., at home and workâ€“has more than tripled since last February. In February of 2007, it had about 1.1 million unique visitors, and by February of 2008, unique visitors had risen to 3.7 million.
Lessig launches Change Congress
Change-Congress.org will be a bi-partisan, web-based effort to leverage and amplify the important reform work being done by others. Think of it as a kind of Google-mashup, but applied to politics. Our aim is not to displace primary reform organizations, but rather to complement and feed support back to these organizations. And in the process, we hope to make transparent just how broad and deep the support for fundamental reform is.
Change-Congress.org will develop in three stages. The first layer will give candidates and Members of Congress a simple way to signal their support for any mix of four fundamental planks of reform: (1) a promise not to accept PAC or lobbyist contributions, (2) a commitment to abolish “earmarks” permanently, (3) a commitment to support public financing of public elections, and (4) a commitment to compel transparency in the functioning of Congress. Once a candidate or Member selects the planks he or she supports, the site will give the candidate code to embed that pledge on the campaign website. Citizens too will be able to take a similar pledge, promising to support candidates who match their own vision of reform. When they do, they will be linked back to reform organizations that support each plank.
But the real contribution of citizens will reach far beyond simply making a pledge. Beginning in April, we will launch a second stage to the site: in a Wikipedia-inspired manner, wiki-workers will track the reform-related positions of candidates who have not yet taken a pledge. If a candidate, for example, has endorsed Public Campaign’s bill for public financing, we will record that fact on our site. The same with a pledge to forgo money from PACS or lobbyists, or any of the other planks in the Change Congress pledge. And once this wiki-army has tracked the positions of all Members of Congress, we will display a map of reform, circa 2008: Each Congressional district will be colored in either (1) dark red, or dark blue, reflecting Republicans or Democrats who have taken a pledge, (2) light red or light blue, tracking Republicans and Democrats who have not taken our pledge, but who have signaled support for planks in the Change-Congress platform, or (3) for those not taking the pledge and not signaling support for a platform of reform, varying shades of sludge, representing the percentage of the Member’s campaign contributions that come from PACs or lobbyists.
What this map will reveal, we believe, is something that not many now actually realize: that the support for fundamental reform is broad and deep. That recognition in turn will encourage more to see both the need for reform, and the opportunity that this election gives us to achieve it. Apathy is driven by the feeling that nothing can be done. This Change Congress map will demonstrate that in fact, something substantial can be done. Now.
Finally, the third stage of Change Congress will provide financial support to reform candidates. Following the model of Emily’s List, we will recruit contributors to support Change Congress candidates, both Republican and Democratic, who make reform a central platform of their campaign. Individuals will be asked, for example, to contribute $10/month to five Change Congress candidates. That support will make it easier for those candidates to spread the message of reform, and to define at least one central part of their candidacy to be about reform.
I have huge hope for that work.