December 18, 2008
Obama's unity call falls on P.C. ears
Posted by: Chris
It hasn't taken the gays long to find fault in the still-transiting Obama administration. You can almost guess from the level of fury that what's at stake isn't something real, like a retreat on policy or foot-dragging on a campaign promise. That's because content- and consequence-free is exactly how the politically correct crowd likes their controversies.
Barack Obama's offense was to select Rick Warren, a conservative evangelical who opposes gay marriage, to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Never mind, for the moment, that Obama also opposes marriage equality, as did Hillary Clinton and every other viable presidential candidate.
Warren also spoke out in favor of Proposition 8, but never mind that support for a constitutional amendment overturning a historic gay marriage ruling puts Warren in smack dab the same spot as presidential candidate John Kerry, who nonetheless received heaped praise from the Human Rights Campaign and other gay rights groups. And never mind that Warren was selected to deliver a prayer, not a political speech, and will no doubt say nothing at all relating to gays or marriage -- come to think of it, that kind of avoidance would have practically qualified Warren for a "strategery" role in the No on 8 campaign.
Never mind all of those things because they do not matters as much as ideological purity, as defined by those who somehow think of themselves as "progressive" despite their own naked intolerance. We must demand exclusion in the name of "unity"! Isn't that ironic, doncha think?
A number of critics trace Obama's supposed betrayal to this transition-team promise:
"The Presidential Inaugural Committee, at the direction of President-elect Obama...will organize an inclusive and accessible inauguration that...unites the nation around our shared values and ideals."
"Shared values and ideals?" huffs Leah McElrath Renna on HuffPo ("Rick Warren, Obama? Really?"). How dare Obama when we don't share Rick Warren's views on gay marriage!
Shared values and ideals, Leah. Do please try to focus, honey. You successfully honed in one of those un-shared values. Try to remember that the whole idea behind unity is finding areas of agreement, not disagreement, and focusing on common ground to bring us together as a nation.
Can you imagine what sort of "unity" party that HuffPo and the "progressive" left would have Obama throw? One in which only other progressives are invited, thereby completely missing the point. Yes, election night was magical, and as a long-time Obama supporter I too was moved and inspired. But recreating Grant Park (or the Denver acceptance speech) will not unify the country.
This twisted idea of unifying only among the like-minded reminds me of the joke about St. Peter giving a tour of Heaven. "Keep quiet as we pass this next doorway," he tells the new arrivals. "This is where we keep the fundamentalists, and they think they're the only ones here." I hate to break it to you P.C. stormtroopers, but your Obama-America Paradise includes more than gays and gay-friendlies.
Another predictably knee-jerk response was Queerty shrieking headline -- "Barack Obama's 'new pastor' is a slap in the face to the gay community":
Barack Obama's decision to allow a direct enemy of gays and lesbians to officiate at his inauguration isn't just alarming, it's outrageous and indefensible. We call on President-Elect Barack Obama to rescind his offer to Rev. Warren immediately.
I'm sure Obama is quaking in his boots, Queerty. So I best step up to your challenge. I am hereby defending what you call "indefensible" (and "alarming" and "outrageous," those rhetorical handmaidens to lazy left outrage). And I will do so as someone who has closely watched, cared about, cried over and covered the gay rights movement since you were in diapers -- and as someone whose life and livelihood depend far more than yours on Obama living up to his LGBT campaign promises.
Keep your eyes on the prize, boys. Obama's campaign to unify the country -- which last I checked includes millions of Warren's fellow travelers -- is in the service of an administration whose stated policy positions are the most supportive ever on LGBT civil rights. Winning over support for a pro-gay president from anti-gay leaders isn't just defensible, it's downright brilliant.
Ahh but the shiny bauble of a controversy will always distract the ideological purists among us, who are spoiling for a fight more than they are fighting for a cause. Still, how disappointing and sad that it is the gays who are first to break ranks and declare some other (much larger group) as untouchable. It's the kind of exclusionary politics we should expect from our enemies, not from ourselves.
(Photo of Barack Obama and Rick Warren via L.A. Times)
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