Thursday, May 22, 2008
This Land is Our LandI grew up in an America in which women did not have careers and black people were not entitled to rights the rest of us took for granted - a place where white men said mean things about the blacks who were excluded somehow from living in our town. When James Brown sang "It's a man's world", he was right. But it was a white man's world.
When Obama and Clinton started their campaigns last fall, we were all so busy feeling good about the progress they represented that we did not consider how messy things might get - never considered that our good feeling might be interrupted or mitigated by a flare-up of sexism or racism somewhere, someday, sometimes.
Did sexism hurt Hillary? Has Obama run into a wall of racist ill-will? I think not.
I think Hillary drew so many women to her side that people who voted mainly on gender voted more often for Hillary than against her. On balance, gender worked for her - not against her.
In similar fashion, my sense is that Barack drew so many African-American voters to his cause that any open or secret racism was more than offset.
I may be wrong, but the huge turnout of Democrats in the 2008 primaries is an indication to me that, though we still have some old, tired, and ugly thinking in our communities, we are no longer hampered by hate or limited by lingering prejudice.
I think Michelle Obama was right when she said, in an unfortunate phrase, that she was proud of her country for the first time. I think I know what she meant. I feel that way too.
This land is our land, and this is our year.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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