Saturday, May 24, 2008

Guilt By Association?

I've been associated with people who could be accused of extremism. The first example that comes to mind is my association with what some might call Christian fundamentalists. These are some of the people who argue that the fate of our world will dbe etermined by the seemingly never-ending, "us against them" or "Christianity vs. Islam" battle. They say that we stand at the edge of "Armageddon", that this is "the End of Days" and thus, we must fight the good fight against our enemies and the evils of the world. These positions are equally if not more fervently possessed by extremists on the opposite side of the argument, extreme Islamic fundamentalists. That, to me, is the big problem with pointing to people like Jeremiah Wright as "the problem" in the midst of this presidential campaign.

Jeremiah Wright on many counts seems to be speaking from a less extreme position than those in the Bush administration and many other religious leaders in our own country. The "Axis of Evil" and "Evildoers" are the antagonists in their clear-cut, black and white, right and wrong, us against them yarn. God is with us, despite our evils, against them because of theirs. For some reason, people buy the cock-and-bull story that because we are nation founded in righteousness, and recipients of the blessings of democracy, that we are somehow immune to the influence of or subject to the evils we denounce. Because we aren't responsible individually for the wrong-doing of our Presidents and evil acts of our government, it's easy for us to view an attack against our nation as being perpetuated by those who, "fear freedom". But that is an excuse, a justification. The truth is that we are guilty as a nation of atrocities. Some of those atrocities have been acted against other people, in other nations. A remarkably larger number have been committed against our fellow-citizens. Be it the inexcusably slow response to Hurricane Katrina, the unlawful dismissal of Habeas Corpus, or illegal wire-tapping approved by the President, we are victims of the iniquities of our government as often as we are beneficiaries of it's virtues. So, we either expect to have improvements made to our government and honest, righteous people installed at its' head, or we choose to allow the current version to ride in its' ruts to the end, taking us with them. As Thomas Jefferson said, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent".

Ask yourself, five years after "Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended", do you still consider our war in Iraq just and honorable? Are we still the righteous nation laying waste to the "evildoers"? Are we completely free of taint despite the thousands of American Troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been killed as a result of the invasion? Knowing now that Saddam Hussein in fact posed little threat to the U.S., that the premise for the war was built on lie upon lie, if not determination built upon nescience, are we still the righteous nation we started out as? We, as individuals may still feel that way, but I believe that polls showing 82% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track points to the fact that we recognize now that we've been wronged. Wronged by the same President and government we so devoutly supported after September 11th.

I believe that many of us feel guilty for having gone along with it for so long. And to hear Jeremiah Wright say, in essence, that we do share culpability for our nations' actions and that we, as a nation, are reaping what we've sewn cuts many to the quick. But is that much of his argument untrue? While I disagree vehemently with some of the views I've heard spoken by Reverend Wright, I still agree completely with those of Barack Obama's, and I have the ability to distinguish between the ideas and spoken beliefs of the two. While some are quick to accuse Obama of sharing the same views as Jeremiah Wright, I'd ask that you provide an example in which Obama sided with Wright's brand of extremism, as opposed to disowning it. For those of you who find it so hard to believe it impossible to maintain your own views while associating with somebody with those different than yours, I feel badly for you. Perhaps that's an indication that you are so subject to the influence of others--to the adoption of their thoughts as your own--that you can't imagine a man or woman wise enough, or courageus enough, to do their own thinking despite the din of ideas or thoughts around them. Perhaps that's why you, like many others, went along for the ride with the Bush administration for so long.

Barack Obama, however, is a man and Presidential candidate capable of thinking for himself, and divesting himself from rhetoric and ignorance as well as the people spewing them. And that is why I will be voting for him in November.

1 comment:

  1. A very good post somthing to think about in many ways i agree, i do still fill ok with going in to iraq i grossly agree with how the war has been fought and how we are fighting it now, i fill the american people are way to weak to have fought it in the right way thow as well jeff as for obama im still a no jeff i fill allot of what you are arguing for him you could also argue against him
    i will have to think a little more thow about your post the comments about rev right and the complete swing of the extrimist in are own country and there self rightous attiatude i fill is dead on and the sad thing is that it is contained in there own doctorian and scriptures i am one of those religouse right wing crazys that you assositate yourself with so like rev right i gess im sorry if anyone uses it against you in your run for office latter in life ;)