Monday, October 20, 2008

America's Dark Night of Soul: I'll Take Hope Where I Find It For Now

And now for some uplifting news. Louisiana Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, has lost his position as vice chairman of the House health care committee in that state's legislature. In September, the Louisiana statesman unofficially proposed paying welfare mothers $1,000 to undergo sterilization as a solution to poverty. He further proposed giving incentives to "well-educated" citizens to broaden the state's tax base, suggesting that both "positive" and "negative" eugenics would save America.

Here at BlogHer, CE Lainad joined a throng of bloggers nationwide denouncing LaBruzzo's proposal, and I condemned his idea at my personal blog. While decrying LaBruzzo's suggestion, I supposed that Louisiana might actually approve such a bill if it made it past the "research" phase in LaBruzzo's mind. Given my state's history on race relations, it seemed plausible to me that LaBruzzo's reprehensible proposal could make him a popular candidate. And he still may win the hearts of a certain type of white, conservative Louisiana voter because LaBruzzo has his defenders, those who say he's been misunderstood. However, I believe those who opposed him understood him perfectly; therefore, I was overjoyed to learn that earlier this month someone yanked LaBruzzo from his perch.
Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, will remain a member of the House Health and Welfare Committee but will no longer serve in a leadership role, House Speaker Jim Tucker announced.

Tucker said the Legislature soon will begin debating ways to improve and change health care in Louisiana, and he said LaBruzzo's statements damaged his leadership abilities.

"Some of the comments made by Rep. LaBruzzo recently have impeded his abilities to help lead critical health care reform and be an effective member of our leadership team," Tucker, R-Terrytown, said in a statement.(
Given the divisiveness of the presidential election, I saw LaBruzzo's removal as a sign of hope, the possibility that a blatantly racist agenda will not be tolerated even in the great southern state of Louisiana. I want that to be so.

I need to feel I'm raising a son and leaving a daughter in a world that's learned from its mistakes because lately I've been wondering if we'll be those people who forget our history and are condemned to repeat it, to suffer again some of the worst atrocities of humankind. I've heard the vicious hiss rising from conservative rallies and talk shows, the spine-chilling McCarthyist madness from the lips of Minn.Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, and robocall ugliness. Do these Americans who declare themselves more patriotic than others know history and the hounds snarling behind their allegations: The Crusades, the Blacklist Era, Jim Crow, The Third Reich?

As Moms Mabley used to say, "Don't tell me about the good ole days. I was there, where was they at?" Mabley, an African-American comedienne, referred to segregation and living in a climate of state-sanctioned oppression. I'm too young to make a statement like that, yet old enough to have elders with back-of-the-bus stories, black enough to have faced institutionalized bigotry head-on, and educated enough to spot the dark clouds of nationalism, fascism, and the dangerous mob drunk on fear and propaganda.

I'm glad that someone, especially someone in the Republican Party, recognized that a man spouting LaBruzzo's ideas does not make a good leader. A man willing to push such a dangerous, divisive agenda lacks the judgment to lead.

I'm gladdened further to see other conservatives such as Christopher Buckley step up and reject the hateful tactics embraced by the McCain Campaign as "mean-spirited and pointless," and journalist Bob Schieffer, a man who clearly admires John McCain, acknowledge that Colin Powell is not the only Republican disturbed by McCain's campaign nastiness:
Well, I’m sure they don’t like it but, you know, this is — what Colin Powell said yesterday and why it was so riveting to hear him, he was saying aloud what a lot of Republicans are saying privately, I think, or at least what I’ve heard some Republicans tell me. They think the pick of Sarah Palin reflects on John McCain’s judgment, they think the campaign has turned too nasty and is not inclusive. I think Colin Powell said aloud yesterday what some Republicans, at least, are saying privately. (Quote from Suzie Q. via HuffPo)
.In addition, The New Yorker reports that Goldwater conservative Ken Adelman will vote for Barack Obama. Some of Adelman's reasons are similar Gen. Powell's. The first reason he gives for not supporting McCain is the Arizona Senator's erratic behavior during our economic crisis. His second reason?
... judgment. The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate.

That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office—I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick. (New Yorker)
Others, probably not Republicans, have wondered how John McCain can say he puts "country first" and yet unleash the pitbull on America to bark narrow-minded, fear-mongering rhetoric. I've wondered that as well.

So, while I could look at the crowd of 100,000 people at Obama's St. Louis rally and take them as my ray of hope that many Americans have open hearts and welcome inclusion, while I can listen to conversations between older white women in New Orleans's City Park discussing how uncomfortable they are with Palin's rhetoric and believe we will heal America after Election 2008, I look elsewhere. I turn my eyes instead to other glimmers of light--conservatives here and there who are public figures and reject winning at any cost, who believe the soul of the nation should not be ripped for political gain.

I consider that it may be safer than I thought for my children, nonwhite Americans who are not conservatives now, to grow and love in America after all. And I am comforted that some people with whom I rarely agree can read the danger signs in fact twisting, xenophobia, racism, and witch hunts just as I can and will lift up a hand and say, "Stop. Enough."

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