We gain. We lose. We question why.

Remember the suffragists were told to wait their turn. Abolition was more important. The emancipation of slaves was more important. Remember Sojourner Truth pointing out the fallacy of that dichotomy.

We are now faced with two developments that tarnish an otherwise spectacular and historic electoral result. And history has a few things to show us, if we open our eyes to it.

One loathsome development is the systemic denial of civil rights to our gay citizens and the other is the revisionist history of Michelle Obama being crafted and told. No longer do we hear of her accomplishments, now she who was his first mentor in the law firm in which they met, is relegated to “Mommy-in-Chief”. The “justification” offered says that “too much change, too fast” won’t be acceptable to the American people. But, too much change, too fast is what this country was founded on.

Pretending Mrs. Obama’s accomplishments don’t exist is an insult to her and to every woman who ever achieved anything in the public sphere. It won’t make the achievements go away, it simply cloaks them from public view. It is a disservice to young girls looking up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who are not told the full story of the woman in White House and the scope of her accomplishments. It diminishes what such young girls may aspire to. Imagine how torturous it is to be Mrs. Obama now and see this happening. She may have resigned herself to this when the President-elect set his course in electoral politics. Could she have anticipated answering her two daughters’ inevitable questions about how their mother is packaged, presented, and portrayed?
We are a country founded on a pursuit of rights and civil liberties. If we have learned anything from history at all, we know that systemic denial of rights will eventually fail. Denial of anyone’s right to be themselves and be judged by the content of their character will eventually be revealed as the true un-American way, inconsistent with our very founding principls, our governing documents. When false logic was offered for the displacement and imprisonment of Japanese Americans this was wrong and unconstitutional. “Justifications” were offered. Truth was obscured. Liberty got a black eye. It took our country years to admit it, but admit it we did. Where were my fellow Japanese Americans this election, I wonder?

The scare tactics of the McCain campaign were obvious and stood in stark contrast to his gracious concession speech. His willingness to look the other way while his campaign stirred up racial hatred of the worst kind tarnish his service and besmirch the honor he once held as a soldier. The Mormons who planned a methodical and deceptive fear campaign on California’s Prop 8 display the same disgusting and un-Christian tactics that true followers of Judeo-Christian belief systems cannot abide without revealing themselves as hypocrits.

To counter acceptance of same sex marriage, they resorted to fear-mongering and greed the two-headed monster of attack politics. They “used hypothetical consequences of same-sex marriage, painting the specter of churches’ losing tax exempt status or people “sued for personal beliefs” or objections to same-sex marriage.” The New York Times notes that these claims that were “made with little explanation.” Just put a false statement out there and put the onus on someone else to do their own analysis or research. Shame on the voters of California too lazy to ask a question or two, or God forbid do any critical analysis.

Then they raised the specter of indoctrination of young children. Because everyone knows “those people” are out to recruit your children? Like terrorists? I will never forget Mormons explaining to me that people of color bear the taint of original sin. We were not allowed to be written into the book in heaven. Too bad I divested them of that joy by preemptive strike.

Some non-gay friends may ask, why should it matter to me? It matters because denial of rights in these systemic ways – of women to be fully who they are – of gay citizens to enjoy full constitutional rights – cannot be tolerated if we are to call ourselves a Democracy. If I can’t get you to aspire to your better self, think about it in terms of naked self-interest. Today it is someone else, tomorrow it could well be you.

My friend’s daughter (only 3 1/2 years old) recently noticed she was the only brown child in her class. I celebrate that she now has brown children in prominent places to look up to for a normal view of a real world, more richly diverse than where she currently lives. I can only hope that by the time she is old enough to understand more than skin color, she will see a world where women and gays can also achieve, be viewed as equals, and enjoy full citizenship rights.

No, wait. I can do more than hope. I can speak out and act out and ensure that this dialog keeps going until we get it right. We are America, we ARE better than this.

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A window into what I’m thinking and writing about.

Whether it's Food & Cooking, Sports, Film, Travel or the Business of Writing itself...you can find it all through this page. Use this sidebar and the links below to go directly to whatever strikes your fancy. Jacqueline Church's Facebook profile

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Caught my eye…

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  1. Tales of the Cocktail may be over but the fun continues. Check the blogs and podcasts for all the news that fit to drink!
  2. The Maori art of facial tatooing is called moko. It is a powerful expression of tribal identity which has only recently enjoyed a resurgence as the colonial Christian prohibitions against it have lessened. Go to the Peabody Essex Museum for this rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of this amazing cultural tradition. The documentary I saw at Sundance years ago on moko, was one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.
  3. The Audubon Insectarium is a new and top-notch attraction in New Orleans. We passed by it and wondered why we'd missed it before. Turns out it's just now opening. No time this last trip, but it's on the list for the next time. Check here for info.

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