Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Moderate or be Marginalized

I think this is the message Obama is sending pastor Rick Warren by inviting him to participate on stage in the inauguration.

And this is why I think the comparison to “what if Obama had a racist or anti-semite up there on stage” misses the point.

Nelson Mandela was a master of using white supremacists as stage props to dismantle white supremacy. His message was moderate or be marginalized. There is no try.

Obama’s statement about being President for all Americans, not just those who support him or voted for him, is much like Mandela. Both inherited a massively divided country threatened with economic ruin and split into cultural factions accustomed to hating each other. Oh … and both are black men taking over countries long exclusively ruled and owned by whites.

Pastor Rick Warren has likened abortion to the Holocaust. Which means, I guess, that women and their doctors are Nazi death camp operators. Offensive? In the extreme. But also the position of the Catholic Church, which places abortion as an even higher sin than war. And won’t let women be priests. Warren and the Pope are closer on most issues than they are apart.

But unlike abortion rights, which will remain constitutionally protected thanks to Obama’s election, equal rights for gays do not yet exist in the United States.  Obama has inherited what LBJ inherited from JFK. It is now on his shoulders to cleanse the legal stain of homophobia forever. LBJ did it by turning arms counterclockwise to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — the same year Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for the crime of trying to do the same thing.

Someone asked of the inauguration, “why are gays being asked to take a punch in the gut for inclusiveness?” Well, from the view of a lot of folks on the Right, Warren is taking a punch in the gut for inclusiveness by showing up on stage with a bunch of gay-loving baby killers and their Muslim AntiChrist Presleydent.

And remember, it is just a stage. And all on it are merely players. Perhaps Obama will say, be excellent to each other … or else.

For all we know, Obama might be doing this just to get Warren to talk to Rev. Lowery. You never know where and when an Epiphany can take place.

Christ, Warren might come out of the closet.

Now wouldn’t that be an historic “inauguration”?


  1. rfahey22

    Obama will not be remembered for having Warren give the invocation at his inauguration.  That said, it does seem like a poor and insensitive decision.  I’m not willing to credit this as part of a master strategy without some sign that that’s the case, because I don’t think a single symbolic gesture is going to change that much.  And, let’s remember that there are many ways that Obama could extend an olive branch to people like Warren without giving him a massive stage to play on – he could host some sort of religious roundtable at the White House, for instance.  The silver lining here is that there will be plenty of time to make up for this decision.

  2. Michelle

    Well thought out diary!  Kudos on title too.

    For all the discussion of Obama being messianic, I think the majority of that burden falls onto his biggest supporters.  My general thought is that we, myself included, demand perfection from him in ways that work against our country.  The problem is that so many of US have been marginalized over the past 12 years that we want to lash out and beat the hell outta those that hurt us.  Obama is inclusive and builds coalitions, which is what we need in these dire straits.

    Warren is giving an invocation, not shaping public policy.  His stage is shared with so many others.  Warren’s time is so limited on the national stage, but when he returns, he will pray openly with his congregation for Obama.  His congregation will have their eyes open to Obama and feel part of this new era.  

    But good god, Obama’s followers are hoisting Obama up on the cross.

    You hit the nail on the head when you wrote that epiphanies cannot be predicted.  This olive branch to Warren and his followers is not free reign over our country, and it sure as hell isn’t saying their “brand” of Christianity is the best one.  Obama allows for room to breathe, and we should trust him, give him a little bit of room to wiggle.  After all, he is NOT the messiah, and thus NOT perfect.  We’re not going to agree, but lots of perspective seems to have been lost over a stupid invocation.

    And by the by, welcome to the Moose!

  3. Hollede

    and talked my ear off about how bloody smart President-e Obama is. She said that he took her breath away with his brilliance. She pointed out that Warren came to him and through this kind of discourse and friendship comes real change. She (and you) are probably right, but I am still really cranky about the whole thing.

  4. Feelings are hurt, yes. People feel offended, no doubt. But the levels of outrage are so passionate and personal. People feel kicked in the stomach, deceived and betrayed. Why?

    It’s all optics. This is not a political appointment, it’s a ceremonial moment – encouraging to some, annoying to others, but it has flat out nothing to do with policy.

    Obama may have screwed up by underestimating the reaction. But let us not screw up too by underestimating the problems he faces in the economy, with two wars, and many other interests vying for prominence.

    We will be disappointed that our agenda doesn’t come first. We’ll be more disappointed if an Obama adminstration is rendered powerless by not reaching across the aisle to moderate republicans, and getting things done.

    My feeling is that this blogospheric reaction is partly due (understandably) offended members of the LGBT community, but a whole lot more to the politics of opposition. For eight years, all we could do was discuss, debate, and explore the infinite subtle ways George W. had betrayed us. Those instinctive verbal and intellectual habits – the cold shoulder, the anger, the pre-emptive attack, are hard to overcome. We have not been used to power, and the compromises demanded therein.

    I actually have little problem with the anger displayed, as long as its effective in changing policies towards the LGBT community. If all it means is ‘we don’t trust Obama’, ‘they’ve betrayed us already’, hyperbole will do little to affect the incoming administration’s thinking.

    Blogs are all about opinion, optics, media, imagery and air. Naturally they will focus on optical imagistic problems. But words and images are not the same as legislative actions: the latter outweighs the former as rock does air.  

  5. GrassrootsOrganizer

    It strikes me that the sum total of Rick Warren is much more than his statements on gay marriage and abortion.  To start, he is one of a new generation of evangelical preachers moving into the turf of aging jingoist ideologues the likes of Robertson, Hagee and Falwell.  I can’t well imagine Rick Warren stating that AIDS was sent by God to wipe out “the gays” or Katrina was sent to punish New Orleans fornicators.  

    This is a guy who took considerable heat from the Christian rightwing aristocracy for inviting Obama to the Saddleback debate.  He is also a particularly tech savvy religious leader capable of shaping and building a whole next generation of fundamentalist believers.  Were it not for his public pronouncements on gay marriage and Prop 8, something tells me the Left wouldn’t give a damn about his minor role in the Inauguration, even given his opinions on abortion.  

    So essentially we now have a litmus test for even minor or symbolic acknowledgment from Obama.  I assume all the members of the Obama cabinet and all of his advisers need to have the “correct” opinion on gay marriage.  ( not sure if they all pass the test however! )  Will this also be true for any congressional leaders he works closely with?  I’m also concerned for how deep into federal political appointments will we need to go with this?  Because we are testing out 60% of the American public when we do.

  6. nrafter530

    for some in the blogsphere; I’m thinking of some on kos and basically everyone on OpenLeft, where the outrage is really coming from (I leave MyDD out because that place is a fucking joke now), moderate is a BAD thing.

    I could imagine an OpenLeft in South Africa in 1994 calling Mandela a traitor.  

  7. to comment.  first – welcome to the moose!

    second – while i disagree in principle, i see where you’re coming from.  the other part that bothers me about this is the response that i have seen from so so many (which unfortunately i have heard before this latest kerfluffle).

    “i trust him.”

    no that anyone should be in a constant state of criticism of their leaders, but this is a v. slippery slope. (see: bush)  not questioning seemingly controversial or  well, bad decisions that government makes creates a climate that is dangerous in my opinion.

  8. “If you’re not outraged, you’re not a true progressive”

    Is laughable. My wife is just as “progressive” as me but she gets outraged over very different things. And vice versa for me.

    Having ’round the clock Outrage-O-Thons or I Was Outraged before You Were Outraged Mud Wrestling matches is not particularly conducive to making actual changes in the real world.

    And the word phrase “true progressive” is such a sign …

    Talk about defining yourself as the narrowest part of the funnel.


  9. smileycreek

    And this has a refreshing tone compared to the near-hysteria on DKos around this topic.

    I think this was done quite deliberately.

    I once had a feng shui master come into my office.  He moved my treatment tables so they were at an angle, rather than parallel with the wall.  When I asked Why? he said, You want your patients to get the message the minute they walk in, without you saying a word, to expect the unexpected.  He made several pother small, subliminal changes to reinforce that message.

    Obama is sending signals, all right.  

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