Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

JUST A PRAYER?

Fundamentalist pastor Rick Warren is in the news. Obama has picked Warren to give the opening prayer before a world audience on his inauguration day.

Warren has a big church in Southern California and was active in his state's recent referendum (Proposition 8) to outlaw gay marriage. Warren is opposed to abortion, believes women should submit to the authority of their husbands, and a whole lot more. The good reverend recently gave George W. Bush "The International Medal of Peace." First, one is inclined to wonder how he came to decide that he, Rick Warren, has the authority to bestow an "international medal" on anyone? Secondly, what does it say about his politics that he would give such an award to Bush?

Recently appearing on Fox TV News, Warren endorsed conservative commentator Sean Hannity's statement that the U.S. should kill the president of Iran. Warren said that stopping evil "is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers." OK, now I see why he gave Bush the award.

Obama's decision to have Warren pray for his presidency and the nation has created a firestorm of criticism, particularly from the gay and lesbian community. One writer, Joan Walsh, had this to say about Warren: "Beyond his noxious political views -- Warren has compared homosexuality to incest and bestiality, and supports the Iraq war.....I have come to distrust Warren personally. He looks to be from a long line of religious leaders more concerned about their own glory than the glory of God. I didn’t like him high-fiving with Obama about their million-dollar book deals, or complaining with McCain that $250,000 isn't rich in Orange County [Southern California]. . . . I object to the full Warren package, I think he's a force for division, not inclusion, and a terrible symbol for this inspiring new administration."

The first openly gay member of Congress has remarked that it was a mistake for President-elect Obama to invite the Rev. Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. "Mr. Warren compared same-sex couples to incest. I found that deeply offensive and unfair," said Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

"If he was inviting the Reverend Warren to participate in a forum and to make a speech, that would be a good thing," Frank said on CNN. "But being singled out to give the prayer at the inauguration is a high honor. It has traditionally been given as a mark of great respect. And, yes, I think it was wrong to single him out for this mark of respect."

Obama's response to all of this controversy is that he is trying to reach out to Christian fundamentalists in order to bring the country together. But Obama seems to miss the point that for many Americans, both gay and straight alike, taking such an insensitive decision does not bring the country together but in fact rakes hot coals over many festering wounds. Obama appears to be so obsessed with "unity" that he shows no boundaries. His "reaching out" is pushing away his friends and embracing those who have shown no hesitation in repressing millions of our gay brothers and sisters. This is not leadership that Obama is displaying but in fact is pandering.

Kate Clinton, writing on the subject in The Progressive, says, “We, the 70% of the gay vote for Obama, are told it’s no big deal. It’s not a cabinet appointment; it’s just a prayer. And p.s. we didn’t get a gay cabinet appointment. We are told to wake up and smell the political coffee. This is what it means to reach out to the other side. We are told to grow up.”

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