Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wherein We're Wary of Warren

Rick Warren will offer a prayer at Obama's inauguration.

This is not okay.

We may have just hit upon the first move by the Obama administration that I really, vociferously object to. To the point that I believe it immoral. I have questions about some of his Cabinet appointments (I'm cautious about Hillary Clinton in a position of power over foreign policy, not necessarily her strong point; I'm not always wild about Arne Duncan's educational choices), but I can write those off to, well, Obama's more of a centrist than I am, I always knew that. And I do understand that he cannot bring Jeremiah Wright to the plate again.

Plus, my friend makes a compelling argument that we should trust Obama to do the whole reaching-out thing that has made him such a unifying figure. It's that style that got an actual intellectual elected to office, after all. (Say that last sentence ten times fast, please.)

But I can't condone, or trust, this choice.

In the wake of the Prop. 8 travesty, after a campaign in which Obama and Biden at least claimed they supported equal partnership rights for same-sex couples even as they waffled on the use of the term "marriage," this is unacceptable. Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether there should *be* "religious leadership in the White House," the first act of religious leadership in the Obama White House will be conducted by a man who believes the formal, legal recognition of consensual, loving relationships between same-sex couples is equivalent to the formal, legal recognition incest or pedophilia.

Not okay. Not okay at all.


At 4:20 PM, Blogger Lonin said...

hey, well, i just read this article about Warren that i thought was interesting:

feel free to blast me if this is totally wrong, but the picture this paints of Warren reminds me a lot of Peter Singer: the contemporary philosopher who's a hero of the animal rights movement, but to the movement for disability rights is really a kind of devil, who argues that the lives of many people with disabilities aren't worth living, on account of what he believes to be their constant pain. now, the first i ever heard of Singer was in a new york times magazine article about his interactions with the disability rights community; it became a real shock after that to go to Brown and hear Patrick R., who's vegan, completely lionize him. but, the point i'm trying to make is that the two sides who respond passionately to Singer hardly seem to have any contact with each other. i certainly hope this is true about Warren too, and that Obama's really only concentrating on the Patrick side of him.

i think the argument to make here is that, really, gay rights is *not a political issue*. maybe Obama's calculating that Warren has political points with all sides of the spectrum; the best counter to this argument that i can think of is that gay rights is something that goes completely beyond political points. the question is -- why can't we say that about every other political issue we care about? maybe it's because we can say that gay rights is one of the least abstract things out there that contemporary politicians are concerned with, if we can get ourselves to believe that anything involving money is already a high abstraction, which my linguistics professor certainly kept asserting over and over again at least. and we can say that denying gay rights is tantamount to denying the immediate feelings of a community of people who are always right in front of us.

but then -- it's hard for me to work around the notion that the privatization of health care that leads to its denial to the poor, for instance, is denying the poor's right to be treated as human beings just as much, if not more. and yet, no one's saying that that's an extrapolitical issue -- maybe because it's much less black and white than Prop 8 and its ilk, so compromises can be made?

it really seems like maybe the reason that we have only two political parties is that we'd be hit in the face too many times otherwise with irreconcilable disagreements even as we're drawn to one candidate after the other. and the problem with "bridge people" is that each one bridges the divide in their own, completely idiosyncratic way that maybe no one else agrees with.... now it just seems like *no one's* happy with Warren and maybe Obama's actually privately ruing that he invited him. the more i think of the grouping of political positions into leftist and rightist, the more arbitrary it seems, but i'm still torturing myself sometimes for holding one major Republican opinion in a sea of wholesomely progressive ones. but then, the fact that being opposed to abortion is considered conservative rather than progressive makes me bang my head against the wall; i feel like by all logic it should have been the other way. so therefore, there's no hope for *me* in politics; i'd just be battered on all sides. and as for Warren, i'm totally uncomfortable with saying that his blatant disregard for basically the existence of the gay community as it is right now is any more blatant than what could easily be considered my own extreme disregard for "a community of people who are always right in front of us".

that all being said -- i'm not saying i agree with Obama's choice of Warren at all; there must have been scads of ways for someone as connected as Obama to choose a bridge person without it being a real slap in the face. but what i *am* saying, and what this article did make me think, is that Warren's at least a pretty interesting dude. i'd really go so far as to think that the fault is Obama's more than Warren's, since Warren never claimed to be a politician. hopefully, this is just a mistake and Obama isn't just going to surround himself with "Obama people", whatever those are (even if they're people who specialize in bridging divides, like it seemed he was hoping to do with Warren), the way that Bush surrounded himself with neocons, and force us to accept their judgments. (admittedly, i also find Bush himself to be pretty darn fascinating.)

i really like, though ultimately i find myself disagreeing with, Lucia's article (and i guess this comment is really trying to be my explanation why both of those are true), and the comments make me a lot less frustrated than most comment sections (except for whoever it was who responded to "Barack Obama is smarter than we are" by simply saying "No he's not"). both sides seem to be actually making valid points for a change. especially when compared to the incredibly frustrating comments on the main article it refers to, also on Huffington Post ( i guess the lesson is that whether or not Obama is smarter than we are, he can't simply rely on that fact (if as a matter of fact is *is* a fact) to be a solid part of the popular consciousness. which is probably really a good lesson for him to learn -- if he's actually learning it, that is. claims of "intelligence" anyway these days just tend to strike me as just more claims of eliteness.



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