Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bittersweet







Bittersweet

Shorter days and cold mornings remind us that we are entering a new season. I watched the election returns on the new television. In the spirit of openness, I will share, from a love note I received from Himself, "I am blessed to bask in your presence, despite that TV blaring all the time." Yet, the television has seduced our spawn out of their den of iniquity. I cooked on Saturday and they kept me company lolling on the sofa and watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall on the new 37" behemoth. We are so over "things it's icky to watch with your mom." Spuds and I have watched a lot of baseball and he can aways spot an erectile dysfunction product commercial from the first frame of attractive silver headed man. We share a puerile snicker at the five hour erection contraindication. Himself, I noticed was sort of glued to a show by the makers of COPS, called JAIL and even shushed the kids a few times he was following it so raptly. I share his fondness for this type of cinema verite program. Many years ago we spent New Year's Eve with friends in San Francisco and stayed at the St. Francis. We finished a sort of boozy dinner and the bars were hugely crowded anyway so we all ended up back in our room at about 9:30 and we watched COPS. There was a call from management that the guest in the adjoining room was complaining about the raucousness of our laughter, at about 9:45 on New Year's Eve. It is, sort of to my shame, the closest I have ever gotten to being thrown out of a hotel.

While 60% of Californian voted that chickens should have room to flap around in their cages before they are slaughtered, Proposition 8 passed, although I am sure there is a big legal battle ahead. The exact measure also passed March 7, 2000 only to be overturned by the State Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The language of the proposition is unchanged so it seems reasonable to expect it is as unconstitutional now as it was on May 15, 2008 when it was overturned. This reminds me that even in one of the most liberal states in the union, organized religion still has quite a stranglehold. I note though that in 2000 Proposition 22 passed and about 7.5 million voters voted in that election and 62.4 percent of them favored the measure prohibiting same sex marriages. 38.6% (2,909,370) voted against proposition 22. The vote has not been completely tallied and the numbers are very close as I write this, but it looks like the measure was approved by only 52% of the electorate, as opposed to 62% in 2000. Approximately ten million votes were cast, 5.2 million for and 4.7 million against. Nearly three million people voted against proposition 22 in 2000 but nearly five million people voted against proposition 8. At least this means that nearly 2 million more Californians recognized the wrongness and mean spiritedness of this proposition than they did in 2000. The measure did pass but at least 2 million more people see the folly of it than did seven years ago, so as hurtful and excruciating as it is, we are chipping away. The narrow lead the proposition garnered was due in part to church going African Americans and Hispanics, groups with religious and cultural baggage which seems to fuel particular antagonism towards the gay population, who came out in force for Obama. I will continue to write checks and bay at the moon about this but I don't really have the ear of anyone requiring enlightenment. It saddens me particularly that voting for Proposition 8 were 70% of the African American voters who are basking now in the wonderful denouement of the civil rights movement yet voted to deny these same hard fought rights to others. I hope gay and lesbian folks of color muster the courage to raise their voices, like others before have raised theirs, in the name of tolerance and equal protection under the law. You've got at least one white hetero broad behind you but my voice isn't one that counts much.

I pretty much kept my mouth shut while watching the election returns at home. Himself, indifferent and of the half empty glass persuasion, retreated to the bedroom before the networks proclaimed Obama the winner. The 16 year old was only interested in the Jon Stewart/Steven Colbert take on the proceedings but Spuds and his friend from next door sat on the couch with me and watched McCain's concession and then Obama's acceptance speech. I think Spuds was sort of embarrassed by my snot inducing sobs but also got it that Mom was moved because Obama's election, for all I've snarked about it, is a big big fucking deal. Himself is a white male. There is the Irish Catholic thing but JFK pretty much pulled the carpet out from under minority status for that. He whines frequently about the lack of opportunities in higher education for white humanities guys but from what I hear from other folks with high tone university positions he's not missing much and I remind him constantly that a better antidote than ruing not having been born a disabled transgender person of color with post-modern literary proclivities, would have been law school.

I have been reading lately about, inspired by the Obama campaign's masterful use of it, the development of the Internet, a history that spans about 35 years. Around forty names were mentioned as having been particularly instrumental in creating the technical framework of the information highway. All men. It doesn't surprise me much that television and the harnessing of nuclear energy and pretty much all of the technology that existed when I came into the world was developed by men, but it did that this most modern innovation seems to have been solely created by people with dicks. I'm the one who had to call the 16 year old while he was trick or treating to have him walk me through turning on the t.v. but that no women will be remembered as Internet pioneers, and surely there must have been some chicks with a greater aptitude for this than me, makes me sad.

Obama's election makes it seem that the doors are open to making things more fair for women in this country, and towards keeping our path lit and after a lot of reflection, I confess I have been sort of a pig about Sarah Palin. Carrie in Drogheda sends this link:
http://www.cultureandmedia.com/specialreports/2008/SarahPalinChar/SaraPalinFull_Report.htm to an essay which made me feel uncomfortable with myself. If Sarah Palin were pro-choice and in favor of sex education that wasn't focused only on abstinence and she were the Democratic nominee for vice president, I wouldn't have considered her Susan Sontag but I would have found her cute and refreshing and populist and real, if not the brightest bulb, and her presence on a ticket certainly would not have prevented me from voting for it. I would have excused even the shooting wolves from a helicopter as an Alaskan idiosyncrasy I could forgive. She would have reminded me of Mary Tyler Moore or That Girl and I would have considered the choice of such a real talkin', perky girl,working mom as a refreshing change from stuffed shirt politicians. I disrespected Sarah Palin because her views are different than mine. I agree with Obama that determining the moment life begins is far beyond my pay grade and also agree that our energy is better spent towards preventing abortion rather than outlawing it. I can see why many people believe that life begins at the moment of the possibility of life, conception. People who profess to believe this yet would sanction abortion in cases of rape or incest are hypocrites and completely sap the pro life movement of any credibility. If you believe that life is sacred and that it begins at the moment of conception it is inconsistent not to oppose all abortion...and euthanasia and the death penalty. I don't know where Palin stands on euthanasia but presume she does not oppose the death penalty. Nevertheless, her view on abortion is different from mine but I respect her consistency and commitment to her belief that doesn't waiver even in the tragic face of rape or incest. I strive to do better than to automatically assume that someone who disagrees with my educated white liberal perspective on issues, lacks character. There is much I disagree with Palin about but assassinating her character did nothing to strengthen my (more enlightened, but still...) opposing position.

Obama got most of the Jewish vote. There are Jews who vote only on the issue of Israel but it's not a huge percentage. Among the first voices raised on behalf of the civil rights movement were Jewish ones. Half of the participants of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom summer were Jewish. Abraham Joshua Heschel walked arm and arm with Dr. King in the Selma march of 1965. Freedom Fighters, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, who were murdered along with African American James Chaney, by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi in 1964, were both Jewish. A lot of American Jews feel that their devotion to the civil rights movement has been denigrated by the black community as inconsequential or paternalistic but the truth is that Jewish blood was shed and a lot of the legal work towards abolishing state sanctioned discrimination was done pro bono by Jewish lawyers. In 1984 the Reverend Jessie Jackson referred to Jews as Hymies and New York City as Hymietown. I watched him weeping at Grant Park and wondered if he was moved by the magnitude of the occasion or if he was bereft because Barack renders him and his ilk so over. They say the Joe Lieberman's presence on the ticket was a milestone for American Jews but even before he turned tail, I wasn't inspired or encouraged by Lieberman and while I suppose it was a huge stride for those of us of the Hebrew persuasion, it moved me not. Watching Obama addressing the crowd though,I felt for the first time that here in America anything is possible and oddly, as Obama is neither, as a Jew and as a woman I felt that a door had been unlocked.

I was raised on the fumes of World War II bravado. After that triumph we made a mess in Korea and then in Vietnam and intermittently have thrown our weight around in other countries and are perceived by many throughout the world as being materialistic imperialist scum. I inherited my parents pride at our WWII gallantry and sacrifice but in my own lifetime there has been nothing, except maybe the moon landing, which I was too young to get the significance of, that's made me feel particularly proud to be an American. When I think of growing up in America I think of military aggression and fallen leaders lying in pools of blood. But now, there's President Elect Obama, born of a marriage that would have been illegal in a number of states in 1961, the year of his birth, greeting the audience at Grant Park. Oprah was even there. The president elect said, "...for that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow." I wonder if any human is up for the tasks Barack Obama has in store but for the first time in fifty-one years, I feel full of hope and I feel proud to be an American. And I even believe that some day people will be treated with the same compassion as poultry.

7 comments:

Cari said...
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Cari said...
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Cari said...
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Cari said...

Re: Sarah Palin: FOX NEWS announced today that Palin was extremely "difficult" dealing with MCCain campaign managers, refused to be briefed before going on air with Couric, had no clue that Africa was a continent made up of many countries. She just thought it was one big country. I'm sure in the near future, more tidbits will leak out about her antics. It doesn't take rocket science to know that no matter how perky and energetic she is, Palin was not ready to be VP (or one heartbeat away from President) IN ANY WAY. Don't feel guilty, I sure don't.

FionnchĂș said...

I've been blogging the past week, and responding to more than one friend's e-mails with my own, so I'm about tapped out regarding politics, and will go back to typing about Irish medieval references to chess or California and/or Buddhism! No, there aren't (m)any; this is a witticism.

Meanwhile, the whole black-Latino vote will be dissected re: Prop. 8. Quite the irony, yes. Still the trend is, as we can predict, slowly shifting with generations towards acceptance of gay rights. As with many issues, including many of the GOP's articulate wing, I respect those who argue with principled objections rather than witless slogans, however. Moving from "marriage" as defined for nearly us all for millennia is not an easy issue to expect a majority so indoctrinated to turn around on so suddenly. Comparing Prop. 22's fate to 8 now, frankly, I'm amazed by the more open-minded societal direction having happened-- even given the majority opposed hailed from infamous coastal California-- so rapidly.

I do cringe at the facile name calling of "bigot" or "fascist," both of which I saw on used on last-minute anti-8 signs in our neighborhood. The need for tolerance does cut both ways! I noticed the anti-8 slogans towards the end of the campaign getting harsher than on the sign we had up. This may have caused a few waverers to take umbrage. Or, the anti-8 ads comparing Japanese WWII internment camps to the pro-8 campaign's ultimate intentions for particular minorities.

Perhaps, likewise better and worse sometimes, our nation's turning more secular as happened in Europe. I wonder if Islam will become much more of the ideology that tempts or repels many rather than Christianity in fifty years, the world over? Our grandchildren, if liberal customs do manage to survive, will undoubtably gasp at our mores the way we look back at miscegenation or other Jim Crow or Anita Bryant ravings. The preview crowds in SF for "Milk" last weekend booed her when she or her simalacrum appeared on screen.

FionnchĂș said...

By the way, two days on, the Palin camp's fought back against the claims of McCain's staffers and shoppers. It's curious that McC has not stepped up in defense of his protegee, also. Apparently the Fox News spin that Cari cites itself was spin, cattily blaming Palin for McC's loss. She played a role, sure, but to be fair, he chose her, not the other way around.

Cari said...

Yes, I wrote too fast, didn't wait for official rebuttal. However, the jury's still out on whether Palin was "difficult" during the campaign or not. I suspect, judging from her Alaska history, that she probably was. You don't get a nickname like "barracuda" for being mellow.
And yes, McCain chose her. To this day I'll never understand why. I guess that's what comes from making hasty decisions.