generic propecia In The Shadow of Lincoln

In The Shadow of Lincoln

I've been mulling over this post since the beginning of January when, it seems, the rest of the world was going to pee itself over the excitement of (still waiting for) the upcoming presidential inauguration. Now, with the blessed event two days away, I must confess two of the following thoughts:

First, I'm probably like one of five people in the world who really isn't all that excited. Now, I'll lay my cards on the table: am I glad to be rid of a Bush White House? Yes. I really don't know who isn't.  Did I vote for the President-Elect? Yes, but I can't say I necessarily "supported" him (ah, yes. The Language Person gets all crazy with language now! You knew it was going to happen). But I can't say that I'm incredibly overjoyed.  Let's face facts: the man is just that, a man, an elected official, who, while promising to be unlike all other elected officials, is still such.  Call me a skeptic, but we've collectively been promised a lot of things before, "change" among them, and look where we are.  Obama is not a miracle worker; things are not going to get better shortly after 12 Noon on Tuesday simply because he's the President.  We will still have to be patient and we will still have to trust that, eventually, someone is going to help get us out of this mess rather than dragging us into another one.

Second, and perhaps this is where it gets a bit personal for me, I just really don't like the idea of Rick Warren delivering the invocation.  And I don't like the incredible non-answers the incoming administration offers for his inclusion in such a highly symbolic role.  You would think that if it's symbolic, the incoming administration would know something about that, that word "symbolism" that everyone's throwing around these days.  He will be, after all, the first African American president sworn in to the highest office this country has to offer. Add to that, it's the day after this country observes Martin Luther King Day.  Add to that, the man traveled to his inaugural on an abbreviated version of Lincoln's train trip.

And, after all, this is the same man who gave a landmark speech about race relations in this country with Independence Hall in Philadelphia as his backdrop.

Symbolism surrounds this 44th president, whether he or his staff likes to actively acknowledge it or not.  And because "symbolism" has become not only a current buzz word, but also something we're actively looking for and seeking out, I still can't understand why, of all people, Rick Warren was selected to give the invocation on Tuesday. Too many weeks after the Rick Warren Affair, in my opinion, an announcement came that the Right Rev. Bishop Gene Robinson would deliver an invocation at "the first event of inauguration week."  While The New York Times called Warren's selection an "olive-branch to conservative Christian evangelicals," I cannot help but feeling putting Robinson first on the docket out at the Lincoln Memorial isn't a similar gesture.

So let's talk symbolism: Standing in the shadow of Lincoln, Robinson, an openly gay member of the clergy, will ask for a blessing on our incoming president and on our country.  He'll probably ignore, or, since he's a member of the clergy, has most likely already forgiven, the fact that it took weeks for the Office of the President-Elect to invite him to an inaugural event.  But I digress.  A man, who represents a community who continues to be denied not only equal rights but also equal protection under the law, will stand in the shadow of Lincoln, a man who did all he could to keep this country united in a time of civil crisis, and a man who emancipated an entire people.

Later, up the Mall, standing on the very ground where legislation is created, negotiated, bargained for, and sometimes passed, a man who spends some of his Sundays spreading a message of intolerance, who likens an entire community to incest and pedophilia, will effectively be positioned to become, symbolically, "the nation's pre-eminent minister," according to The New York Times article linked to above.

It's striking. If we remember history correctly, and not the nice, "oh, it's a good story" way that we typically like to swallow things, we'll remember that Lincoln's decision to emancipate slaves was not based on the fact that he thought it was the right thing to do.  Lincoln's sole purpose, as he saw it, during the crisis of our Civil War was not one of basic human and civil rights.  Rather, it was one of unification: this country, indivisible, was not, under Lincoln's watch, going to divide itself.  For Lincoln, the Civil War was only about keeping the Union a union and not a bunch of disparate parts.  Slavery, under the Emancipation proclamation, would only occur if the North won the war.  The granting of basic civil and human rights through the emancipation of slaves was a political move first, and a morally correct choice second.

Oh, how far we have come. In this country today we cannot pass H.R. 1592, otherwise known as the Matthew Shepard Act, a piece of legislation designed to make violent acts against members of the gay community legally classified as hate crimes, even when it is attached to a Department of Defense spending bill.  And while on the President-Elect's website, passage of H.R. 1592 is a 'priority,' we have many priorities that will fall where they may in the coming days and months.  In this country not everyone can marry who they wish nor be afforded the rights and protections that come with such a legal distinction.  The same goes with parenting and adoption.  And filing income tax.  And the list goes on and on.

Still, it seems, the granting of basic human and civil rights because, simply, they are the morally correct and humane thing to do, still requires a politically right reason before it can become a morally right one.

We are Americans and we love ourselves some good old-fashioned pomp and circumstance.  Once upon a time, when we were upset that taxes weren't going our way, we tossed some tea to show just how mad we were and how much we weren't going to take it anymore.  Again on Tuesday, we have another opportunity for more pomp, circumstance, and celebration.  For a moment, we may forget that there are still many in this country who are denied basic civil rights because of who they are and who they love and we will think that right now, that in this moment, we've finally, collectively, gotten it right. Then, after the parties and the ball gowns and Fox News's fears are realized that "Gay America" has partied til it collectively dropped after the inauguration, the work of governing begins.  In that oft-called-upon spirit of hope, let's hope this new administration never trivializes the power of symbols again.

Comments (0)
  Share/Save/Bookmark

+ 0
+ 0