Sunday, May 04, 2008

Conversations on Barack Obama and The Sixties: Are you dissin' us, man?

The sixties bite back, from a November 2007 post by Ben Smith on Politico: I'd missed this last week round, but Tom Hayden, the sixties-era leader, wrote an open letter to Obama on HuffPo, a rare Boomer self-defense against his rhetoric of generational change. Hayden attacks Obama's moderate stance on Iraq, but the most interesting bit is his defense of the 60s......

See Tom Hayden's earlier endorsement of Obama in The Nation. In part -- More disturbing is what happens to the mind by setting up these polarities. To take a "centrist" position, one calculates the equal distance between two "extremes." It doesn't matter if one "extreme" is closer to the truth. All that matters is achieving the equidistance. This means the presumably "extreme" view is prevented from having a fair hearing, which would require abandoning the imaginary center. And it invites the "extreme" to become more "extreme" in order to pull the candidate's thinking in a more progressive direction. The process of substantive thinking is corroded by the priority of political positioning......

NOTE TO BARACK: Hi, I am your crazy uncle. My parents, MY proud products of the 1950s, split up in 1963 (thank the Lord for that decision...!) in Blytheville Arkansas, the most recent northeast Arkansas town we lived in, soon after JFK was assassinated, when I was about 11. My stepfather, a poor man from Hendersonville North Carolina, joined the USAF when he was 17 so he could go to college, did his stint in Vietnam, and died from bad choices including alcoholism at age 56. My ex-husband and father of my 2 kids -- adults now -- Lucy and Rena, was visited by the FBI in 1972 because he was a subscriber to The Catholic Worker, and a member of the War Resisters League. My brother was a CO (that's a "conscientious objector" on the basis of a philosophical opposition to killing people). Many young men in our country felt they had to go to Canada to seek political asylum rather than participate in an immoral and unjust war.

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright might not be Rev. Al Sharpton, or Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But they are us. This is our history. We sixties crazies, the Civil Rights Freedom Fighters, the ordinary people of our country, kids, mothers, teachers, everyone, fought against all the odds. Barack, please give us our due. We are with you, but could you please acknowledge the soldiers in the trenches that created your candidacy?

If you just want votes, heave ho -- but if who we are as a people matters to you (and it seems to matter to Michelle), let's be honest. What about our history??

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