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Fri

14

Nov

2008

Historical hysteria
Friday, 14 November 2008 13:05

Historical hysteria

by Ed Naha

When Barack Obama was declared the next President of the United States, my wife and I sat before the TV with a mixture of relief, disbelief and joy. The screen was suddenly filled with a sea of faces, old and young, black and white and in-between; laughing, crying, cheering. An announcer intoned: “This is a great day for Black Americans.” I started to laugh. My wife gave me a look. “I forgot Obama was Black,” I said.

 

Sure enough, unless race was pointed out by a pundit or a political rival, I concentrated on Obama the man and the man’s message. He was our great hope. Our way out of the psychosis that has gripped this nation for eight years. I exhaled. Maybe, via this election, America showed that it still had greatness in it.

The election returns continued coming in and my elation disappeared like a fart in the wind. (Which I think was a song by Kansas. If it wasn’t, it should have been.)

Out here in California, citizens voted for Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage and defines marriage as being between a “man and a woman.” The reasoning? Gay marriage threatens traditional marriage.

If you’re a married guy like me, I’m sure you’re tired of getting phone calls from all those gays threatening your marriage. And the ones who show up at the front door to disrupt your dinner and your bonds of matrimony? Enough is enough!

Proposition 8 proved, once again, that America still has a large swath of its population governed by fear; fear of things they don’t understand nor care to.

Keith Olbermann, one of the few heterosexual folks I’ve heard marvel over the absurdity of Proposition 8’s passage, said: “If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world….

“I keep hearing this term ‘re-defining’ marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books, which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.



“The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not ‘re-defined’ marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not ‘Until Death, Do You Part,’ but ‘Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.’ Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

“You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.”

Proposition 8 showed, once again, how many Americans use their religious beliefs as a shield. Worse yet, it showed how some American religions are willing to twist and subvert sectarian concepts of human rights to serve their own agendas.

Two of the biggest contributors to the “Yes On 8” movement were members of the Mormon Church, encouraged by their leader, President Thomas Monson, and the Catholic Church, led by the many-feathered Knights of Columbus. When understandably annoyed gays and their straight supporters protested the Churches’ meddling with civil law via marches, letter writing campaigns and a proposed boycott of all things branded Utah, from skiing to the Sundance Film Festival, the Holy Meddlers found themselves shitting sacred bricks.

Bishop William Weigand, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and former Bishop of Salt Lake City, puffer-fished this statement: “Catholics stand in solidarity with our Mormon brothers and sisters in support of traditional marriage – the union of one man and one woman – that has been the major building block of Western Civilization for millennia.” (Note: if you don’t count the blocks knocked over via divorce, philandering, spousal abuse and incest.)

“The Protect Marriage coalition, which led the successful campaign to pass Proposition 8, was an historic alliance of people from every faith and ethnicity. LDS were included – but so were Catholics and Jews, Evangelicals and Orthodox, African-Americans and Latinos, Asians and Anglos.” (Note: not to mention mouth-breathers, knuckle-draggers and closet mullet lovers.)

“Bigoted attacks on Mormons for the part they played in our coalition are shameful and ignore the reality that Mormon voters were only a small part of the groundswell that supported Proposition 8.”

Out-of-state Mormons, however, managed to spew out close to $20 million in California’s direction to help fund the retro-Prop.

Then, the Bishop played mental Twister big-time, unloading this mind-fart: “I personally decry the bigotry recently exhibited towards the members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints—coming from the opponents of Proposition 8, who ironically, have called those of us supporting traditional marriage intolerant.

“I call upon the supporters of same-sex marriage to live by their own words—and to refrain from discrimination against religion and to exercise tolerance for those who differ from them. I call upon them to accept the will of the people of California in the passage of Proposition 8.”

In other words, we can be bigoted in regards to your rights because we follow the Christian concept of loving thy neighbor (within reason) but you can’t call us hypocritical because then you’re just as bigoted and hypocritical as we are, although we’re not bigoted nor hypocritical because we’re not gay. So, you gays better be tolerant.

Weigand apparently began his career as pastor of “Our Lady of FUBAR” Parish.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who honed his comedic timing during the long-running Catholic Priest/Altar Boy Follies, issued this side-splitter. “Proposition 8 is not against any group in our society. Its sole focus is on preserving God’s plan for people living upon this earth throughout time.”

Damn! I could have sworn Proposition 8 targeted gays! And, since they’re living upon this earth, that makes them people, right? And God created people in His own image and…Awww, the hell with it. This is too confusing. Break out the wine! Bring on the altar boys!

Mormon spokesperson Kim Farah was even funnier, finding demonstrations in front of Mormon temples “disturbing.” “While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process,” she said without being struck down by the Great God of Irony.

Um, so, if you demonstrate at Mormon sacred places, you’re wrong. But if Mormons use their sacred places to become Latter-Day Buttinskis in secular law, that’s okay.

The Mormons also stated: “No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information.”

You mean like the erroneous information listed in the fear-mongering ad campaign your church helped pay for? You know, with everyone from priests to wedding photographers being carted away to jail for not wanting anything to do with gay marriages? And Gay Marriage being a new subject jammed into public schools? THAT kind of erroneous information?

Here’s hoping that civil rights-minded people kick the Mormon Church in its sacred slats and crush its coffers. As for the Catholic Church? Why waste your time? It has a way of constantly imploding without any outside help.

Aside from the bigotry shown by a few propositions passed and the re-election of some bona-fide tin-foil hat heroes (like Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann – inheritor of Katherine Harris’ stylist and Marty Feldman’s eyes), the 2008 elections were truly historic. For the first time in a long, long time, voters adopted the concept of “we” the people voting for a government that promised hope for “us” all. People united behind the concept of change.

This of course, did not go over well with the Right Wingnut crowd, whose “us against them” mentality sent this country careening into the current abyss of fear and loathing.

Obama’s victory was a clear rebuke to the neo-con gothic concept of government, right? Naaaah. Obama’s victory just meant Americans were duped.

Obama, who was labeled everything from a Marxist to a Socialist to a terrorist-loving American-hating lefty, suddenly was re-christened a “conservative” who appealed to “center-right” America.

House Minority leader John Boner (representative spelling, there) was quick to declare war on this phony-baloney Obama group. Vowing to adhere to all the Republican clichés that the voters just upchucked on and, then, chucked out, Boehner played to the cheap seats of the GOP in a letter. “Recommitting ourselves to these principles means two things: vigorously fighting a far-left agenda that is out of step with the wishes of the vast majority of Americans and, more important, promoting superior Republican alternatives that prove that we offer a better vision for our country’s future. (Note: On loan from Helen Keller.)

“America is still a center-right country. This election was neither a referendum in favor of the left’s approach to key issues nor a mandate for big government. Obama campaigned by masking liberal policies with moderate rhetoric to make his agenda more palatable to voters. Soon he will seek to advance these policies through a Congress that was purchased by liberal special interests such as unions, trial lawyers and radical environmentalists, and he’ll have a fight on his hands when he does so.”

He then threatened to bring Terri Schiavo back to life by sacrificing a goat. I made that last part up. Could you tell?

Boehner, who only a week or so ago was calling President-Elect Obama’s method of voting “chickenshit” said that as far as Republicans “surrendering” to the new Administration. “It ain’t gonna happen.”

Ah, Republicans - truly a group that puts country first. Boehner’s punchline was that he’s “committed to building a lasting majority on the reform principles that define us and inspire our citizens.”

Yeah. Good luck with that. So far, you’ve inspired us into the poorhouse.

Conservatives really don’t know what to do. At Fox News, almost to a man and a Twinkie, everyone cautions, “nobody knows who Obama really is.” Here’s a clue: start humming “Hail to the Chief.”

Rush Limbaugh blamed the stock market plunge on him, dubbed the current financial meltdown the “Obama recession” and warned listeners of the upcoming “Obama depression.” He ended his rant with a gaseous “thank you, man-child Barack Obama.” You’re welcome, squatting-pustule Rush Limbaugh.

Rep. Paul Broun, Repuglican of Georgia, thinks that Obama may form an American Gestapo. “We can’t be lulled into complacency,” Broun said. “You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I’m not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I’m saying is there is the potential of going down that road.” I’m sure glad Broun didn’t actually make any comparisons.

And how does this headline sum up the lessons learned by Republicans after their resounding defeat across the board? “GOP leader: Rebuild party based on ’sanctity of marriage’” That sure will attract the moderates.

The mind-set of the loopy lug nut lemmings still reeling after this election is nicely reflected in these three headlines: “Right-wing media feeds its post-election anger,” “Obama win triggers run on guns in many U.S. stores” and “Cross burned on lawn of N.J. Obama supporters.”

In other words, no matter what happens during Obama’s first term, we are assured four more years of new episodes of “Cops.”

The day after Obama’s victory, Paul Krugman wrote in “The New York Times” of “The Monster Years.”

“Last night wasn’t just a victory for tolerance,” he wrote. “It wasn’t just a mandate for progressive change; it was also, I hope, the end of the monster years.

“What I mean by that is that for the past 14 years America’s political life has been largely dominated by, well, monsters. Monsters like Tom DeLay, who suggested that the shootings at Columbine happened because schools teach students the theory of evolution. Monsters like Karl Rove who declared that liberals wanted to offer ‘therapy and understanding’ to terrorists. Monsters like Dick Cheney, who saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start torturing people…

“Four years ago it seemed as if the monsters would dominate American politics for a long time to come. But for now, at least, they’ve been banished to the wilderness.”

While I certainly agree and am ready to wholeheartedly embrace a new American era of hope and promise and honor, I’m not quite ready to let my guard down, yet.

There’s nothing more dangerous than wounded monsters.

Sometimes they hide in plain sight.

Behind things like Proposition 8.

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