Scripting News for 4/26/2008

Hope is what we have, Hillary 

She did it again today, made fun of the idea of hope. She says that she and John McCain know how Washington works, and if hope had anything to do with it, they would have figured it out a long time ago.

She’s got to be smart, an astute politician, but on the subject of hope, she’s naive and tone deaf.

Even so, I’m sure she’s right, there’s no hope in Washington. We’ve been actively killing our empire, at least since Bush took office, maybe longer. The world no longer has to come to us to buy the products we used to make. We’re a service economy and we make durable goods. We have lots of natural resources, but not the one we need most, oil. Inflation is becoming a very serious concern, and soon if things go as they look like they’re going, it could get really bad. Meanwhile it looks like Bush is going to start another war with Iran before he leaves office, and as with the last war, guess who’s helping stoke the fires? Yeah, Clinton is.

Even if somehow we could revive our economy, re-educate our workforce, take care of our health, get out of Iraq, avoid war with Iran, we have to look forward to a devastated environment, one that quite possibly won’t sustain human life much longer. Certainly not with the quality of life we had in the 20th century.

Watching the eloquent Rev Wright last night, and hearing his story of the religion of recent slaves, what else do they have but hope? If your people live in poverty, most of them with terrible futures in front of them, what can get you through the night, other than hope? Hope is serious business for people with nothing to look forward to. If HRC ever had to live on hope she’s long forgotten it. But for most people in America, facing an uncertain economic future, with no faith in the sanity of the government (an understatement for me) hope is what we have, Hillary.

Why so quiet? 

I expected a roaring debate in the political blogosphere this morning, and on cable news after the Friday night Bill Moyers interview with Rev Jeremiah Wright. Instead, there’s eerie quiet.

The most I could find was this post on Protein Wisdom saying that Moyers didn’t play hardball with Wright. It’s true, he didn’t. Instead he did what I wish more journalists would, he interviewed him in a way that helped us get to know the person. He let him speak his piece, so we could listen.

There’s so much to admire about Rev Wright, but first, the shame of the professional media, who hounded not only Wright, but members of his congregation, incluing a woman in a hospice, to try to uncover more dirt about Wright and thereby embarass Barack Obama.

Wright isn’t running for office, he points out, it isn’t his job to get our vote, it’s his job to help his congregation, to help them understand the world they live in, to help them do better in that world, and to prepare them for what they believe comes in the afterlife.

Watching Wright, I wondered if Sean Hannity’s preacher could stand up to the kind of objectification this man has withstood. What about Tim Russert’s? How about the people who are close to Charlie Gibson and Andrea Mitchell? And how about the CEOs of Time-Warner, GE, the Sulzbergers and the Murdochs? These people have never run for office, they’ve never been vetted or elected. Could they come out so well after being put through the wringer that Wright has been through.

I think the silence comes from the fact that there still is some humanity in the press and in the blogosphere, and those who watched Moyers and really listened to Wright, realized that he’s not a liability to Obama, he’s an asset. At least some of the polish, the quiet confidence, self-respect, intelligence and grace we see in Obama must have rubbed off this man.

Watching Wright gave me pride in being an American, and shame at the same time, for coming from a country so willing to objectify and villify this person before checking out whether the characterization was accurate. Even the supposedly courageous and thorough NY Times calls his oratory “racist” in an editorial in today’s paper. Based on what? I’ve watched the sermons that have been excerpted; if these are racist, then every other preacher in the US is racist too.

Wright says the religion of the people on the deck of a slave ship must be different from the religion from the people under the deck. On the deck, god is justifying the practice of slavery, and below — god gives them hope that someday they will be free. My people, the Jews, understand this very well, it’s part of our tradition. We’ve just celebrated the holiday of Passover, a feast that’s all about the pride of an enslaved people. If we’re still telling the story, passing it down from generation to generation, after 3000 years, why should we be critical of the African-Americans who are telling the story of their enslavement, which ended only 145 years ago, and whose manifestations are still with us today.

We, the United States, have made mistakes, and those mistakes are as much who we are as our triumphs. The failures leave behind people and their culture, their music, their legends, their religion and their hopes. Sure it seems strange when you hear it for the first time, but that’s good! Because the second time it’s not so strange, and eventually it becomes part of our melting pot, and enriches all our lives.

If you haven’t watched the Wright interview, make the time to do so. You won’t be sorry.

Update: Cross-posted at Huffington.

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