Friday, March 14, 2008

Speaking Truth to Power

While the conservative mainstream media obsesses about a 15-sec spot from a sermon preached at Obama's church, OK Republican lawmaker Sally Kern is getting away with a streak of assaults and batteries of America's gays and lesbians without notice or comment. Study after study has shown that words do more severe and lasting damage than most physical violence does. But that's fine in this America, where accountability is for the little people, and truth is scarce as puppy feathers.

This ignorance of and indifference to real abuse strike me as typical of the sheep who make political decisions based on what the Lords of the Universe want them to think. What the Lords of the Universe want them to know. What they don't know, however, hurts them, and us, severely.

I have in mind a particularly myopic friend who knows nothing about Bush's or McCain's spiritual advisors but today sounded the alarm as far as she can about Obama's. Mind you, she doesn't know squat about the tidal wave of fundamentalism that has steeped the country in its nasty toxicity for 30 years and put verbal abusers like Sally Kern in public office. It hasn't occurred to her to inquire, or analyze, or warn her friends that white and Black fundamentalism goes directly against all our authentic--that is, constitutional--patriotic values. She doesn't know, and what's more, she's damn proud of it.

What she does know is that Rev. Wright said "God damn America" from the pulpit and Obama goes to his church, and that's that.

It hasn't dawned on her to ask whether America's done anything lately that might contradict the only documents that make an American an American: the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It hasn't dawned on her to compare the recent actions of this country with, say, the Sermon on the Mount to see whether there might be some authentic basis for biblical scholar Rev. Wright's critique.

She doesn't appear to care that our Neofascist president has many times broken his oath of office--including his sacred oath to protect and defend the Constitution. The fact that McCain is just Bush 3 doesn't seem to disturb her one bit, and his embracing John Hagee and Rod Parsley hasn't raised one single question in her mind. In all these miserable seven years, I have yet to see a single somber email from her warning me of the consequences of Bush's overt treason.

Reality is irrelevant. It's only the goblin whispering from GOP-inspired "news" that scares her. She's so easy to play, but she thinks she's got a lead on news the nation needs to know to save itself from a disaster. Well, I've got news for her. The disaster is here, and what she thinks is Rev. Wright's treason is just the opposite.

It hasn't occurred to this woman to examine how her responses are programmed by the "news," or to question whose interests are served by her panicky, knee-jerk "exposes" of a fired-up Black man preaching truth to power. She thinks of herself as a stand-up American Christian, and she knows that nice people don't talk like Rev. Wright where she comes from.

She evidently hasn't made the acquaintance of Isaiah and Jeremiah, or Amos or Micah. If she had, she'd know that they said all that Wright is saying and a whole lot more besides. If she had, she'd see that anyone who condemns Wright for telling it like it is, is actually on Pharoah's side. But she can't see that.

I don't know why not. She's not brain-dead. She's smart. It's not like she's been on Uranus for the last decade. She's seen what we've all seen. It's just that she filters it all differently. I don't know if it would sound the alarm in her to hear a white preacher condemn America's abundant recent evils, or if a different cadence would make that righteous wrath more comprehensible and acceptable to her. I suspect it would.

I suspect that much of her upset is fear generated by that bountiful wellspring that William Styron plumbed years ago in The Confessions of Nat Turner. I suspect that she harbors, somewhere, the understanding that in fact this country hasn't actually been the Light and Hope of the World for quite some time--not if you count atrocities committed by its economic policies, and atrocities committed by its State Department, as in Iran Contra and Iraq. Instead, as Michael Moore tried to show us in his film, Bowling for Columbine, we have a lot of stuff to project onto people of color and we're not one bit ashamed to do it.

After all, this is the same person who, a month or so ago, send around an email slander claiming that Obama is a Muslim, and before that, that Obama goes to a racist church. She was wrong then, and she's wrong now, but reality to this kind of mind is irrelevant. And so is research. If she had any idea what she's talking about, she would know that Rev. Wright is an exponent of Liberation Theology, a man grounded in the social and political critique that informed so much of America's own best impulses for change. But she knows none of this, and cares less.

It's a lot easier to get whipped up on cheap, slanderous political propaganda than it is to stop, think, read, and sort out complexities like what America has come to stand for under George W. Bush.

I mean, isn't it god-damnable to obliterate a country, slaughter its people, and scatter the survivors to the four winds to give one man an ego trip? Isn't it god-damnable to torture people? Isn't it well and truly god-damnable to watch a city drown, leave it in moldy, toxic ruins, and house its poorest in formaldehyde trailers? Isn't it god-damnable to spend a country into economic disaster to enrich the richest and destroy its people? Isn't it god-damnable to kill EPA regulations and destroy the nation's most important environmental research archives? Or suppress the science of global warming or stem cell research? Hey, I'm just getting warmed up.

But such manifest in-your-face truth doesn't matter to her. All that matters is a flag on the lapel pin and an I Heart Jesus bumper sticker. That's her kind of patriotism. That's her kind of Christianity.

It isn't mine. I don't ask how America stands compared with the worst of nations. I ask how America stands now compared with the sacred promise of its founding documents.

But I guess I shouldn't expect much more than she's delivering from a nation bred and reared on Disneyworlds and HDTV. After all, it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between man-made "terrains" and the real world we actually inhabit.

There're some very powerful people who count on that.