Tag Archives: obama


Ferguson Is Closer Than You Think


It may be miles and miles away from where you live, but Ferguson, Mo. is closer than you think.

This national embarrassment, this ridiculous cluster-you-know-what, is terrible, virtually indefensible on so many levels. But the seeds of this atrocity were planted a long time ago. What’s worse, they’ve been planted all over our nation.


Defenders of ObamAmerica: Remember This Moment

(So I’ve almost given up blogging in general, in favor of Facebook status updates and other forms of communication. Nevertheless, when something compels me to write, I must.)

Judging by many recent news stories and a flurry of Facebook status updates by friends, the outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), which interrupted President Obama’s speech on health care reform, lies somewhere on the scale of infamy between embarrassing and traitorous — not nearly as bad as Oswald on the grassy knoll, but way worse than the Howard Dean scream.

(Did I say “lies”? Sorry, bad choice of words.)

For the uninitiated, Rep. Wilson shouted the words, “you lie!” during Pres. Obama’s speech, right after Obama reassured his listeners that the provisions under his health care plan would not apply to illegal immigrants — a claim that has been verified several times over.

This act of blatant disrespect to the sitting commander-in-chief, while now officially apologized-for, has been, as most aspects of Presidential media events tend to be, decried, analyzed, rebutted and rehashed ad nauseam by Obama supporters and moderate independents of every stripe. Even Sen. John McCain, Obama’s former rival in the 2008 presidential election, denounced Rep. Wilson’s brief eruption.

For most liberals, the only good thing that has come out of this is the outpouring of support for Wilson’s opponent in the 2010 midterm election, Democrat Rob Miller.

Perhaps, once the vitriol directed at Wilson subsides, we can add to that list another even more important outcome.

So here is my impassioned plea:

Supporters of President Obama… let’s remember this moment.

Remember the outrage, the indignation, the absolute fury that many of you have been directing at Joe Wilson for his behavior, and at many of his Republican allies for their similar, though less outrageously strident, political opposition.

Savor that feeling.

You’re going to need it later.

I’m not sure how much later you’ll need it… perhaps as early as 2012, though realistically maybe not until 2016.

You see, sooner or later, there will be another whirlwind of change that will blow through Washington, and it very likely could involve another Republican in the Oval Office.

If or when that happens, you’re going to need to remember how much you believed in honoring the office of the president, regardless of who is actually in it.

You’ll need to remember how repugnant you thought it was that the then-current President couldn’t schedule a first-day-of-school address without touching off a fresh new batch of conservative protests, including allegations of covert liberal indoctrination.

(Forgive my digression here, but few things amuse me more than hearing conservatives murmur about Obama “having an agenda” of some sort. Really? Ya think? The President of the United States of America actually has a set of goals and priorities that he wants to enact? FASCINATING.)

I’m taking this time to give liberals advance notice now, because it seems like most of them don’t remember exactly how severe a media beating was regularly unleashed on ol’ Dubya after all the weapons of mass destruction came up missing.

And don’t play dumb, either. I can hear some of you already.

I never behaved THAT badly. My friends and I were never THAT belligerent and obnoxious.

Maybe, maybe not.

All I know is, driving around my hometown of Portland during 2006 and 2007 was, among other things, an exercise in reading snarky leftist bumper stickers like “Fire the Liar,” “Somewhere In Texas There’s A Village Without It’s Idiot,” and “When Clinton Lied, No One Died.”

(And those were the few that I could quote on a family blog.)

Clearly, the memo on bipartisan presidential respect didn’t make the rounds enough times for us all to get it.

So consider this a reminder.

And if you really want to support President Obama, you can start a new letter-writing to his communication staff, telling them that if his health care legislation passes, they might want to avoid printing a banner with the words “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” emblazoned on the front.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for Mixin’ It Up with me.


Links To Make You Th–LAUGH (Obama Edition)

Okay, so these are Obama-related but I promise they’re not political.

Mac enthusiasts are in an uproar over what they perceive as a stunning betrayal of their biggest brand celebrity, because someone saw President-elect Obama working out with a Zune music player — a Microsoft product, instead of an iPod or an iPhone.

I can see the editorial from Huffington Post already: “School Vouchers, Maybe, But a Zune?!”

Oh, the humanity.

The line of the day from this story came from a commenter on Gizmodo: “Duh… he is the change candidate.”

Also, a Florida Republican had to be contacted by a member of her own party before she believed the two phone calls she had just received were actually from President-elect Obama and not an impersonator pranking her. She had to be told because she’d just hung up on him — twice.

And finally, only in a city like Chicago does it take a reporter — from out of town, mind you — to file a story about how Chicago drivers aren’t intimidated by anything, including presidential motorcades.

The headline from the NBC Chicago story: Don’t Mess With the Black SUVs.

Speaking as a fan of 24, I call those words to live by.


Conservative ‘crazies’ have a lesson to teach

I am a fan of Eric Zorn, the liberal progressive columnist of the Chicago Tribune, mostly because he is usually well-reasoned and honest. I share his frustration with the legions of Obama-haters who are latching in vain onto whatever they can to attempt to prevent him from taking office — in this case, a half-cocked attempt to disqualify him on what appears (to me, anyway) to be a fabricated technicality related to the geography of his birth.

But his latest response (“Sigh. The crazies are back.“) seems petty, partisan, and short-sighted:

Silly me. Here I’d been thinking that the wild-eyed foamers who were driven nearly to madness by the prospect of Barack Obama’s election to the presidency would have crawled back into their basements and waited for Obama to be sworn in before they began waving their arms and ranting again.

But no. Political insanity knows no holiday.

Sorry, EZ, but the truth just isn’t that simple.

First, the necessary disclaimer: I am not beholden to either political party.

I’m certainly not conservative, at least not how the majority of the electorate tends to use that word in its most simplest sense. I voted for Obama, and I helped to vote in Portland’s first openly gay mayor. I’m in an interracial marriage, and I’m on staff at a multi-ethnic church founded in a denomination that is leading the charge for diversity among others of its kind.

I recycle, I read Slate, I ride my bike, I rail against corporations, I’m a fan of NPR. I’m a college graduate, I’m part of the creative class, and I run my own business. From a demographic standpoint, I’m probably every Prius salesman’s wet dream.

But I’m not really liberal either.

I may be a registered Democrat at the moment, but I only registered this year, for the express purpose of voting for Barack Obama in the Oregon primary. (In fact, I had to restrain myself from openly laughing at the guy who knocked my door yesterday, because his pitch included all kinds of wrongheaded assumptions, starting with the idea that I would ever give money to the ACLU.)

On many — dare I say, most — bellwether issues, I fall just right of center.

So forgive me if this sounds preachy or vindictive; it’s just that I feel so uniquely qualified to make the following statement:

Conservative crazies won’t let up on Barack Obama because liberal crazies never let up on George Bush.

I hate to oversimplify issues, but on this one, I really do think it’s that simple.

Portland is the land of the leftist bumper stickers, and I’d bet a pair of NBA playoff tickets that the “Is it 2008 Yet?” bumper stickers went into circulation as soon as Dubya won the right to a second term.

It wasn’t fair then, and it’s not fair now. But if you fail to acknowledge this, all the complaints of fairness reek of liberal partiality.

Zorn, if you’re reading this, I know you’re not a fan of the Bible. So forgive me for alluding to Hosea 8:7a in this case:

If you sow the wind, don’t be surprised when you reap the whirlwind.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for Mixin’ It Up with me.


When Good Intentions Just Aren’t Enough

So here is the thing.

For many reasons, I’m not the best person to be talking about this. Yet, I’m a blogger. So when it comes to spilling out my commentary on issues du jour, I haven’t let lack of qualification stop me before.

I’m not a parent yet.

I do plan to be one, though I’m not sure when yet. My wife and I are continuing to trust God for the timing, so the truth is I don’t know when I’m going to become a parent. Unless we’re led to go the adoption route, I won’t have more than the standard nine months to figure out exactly what I’m supposed change about my life in order to become a good parent. God knows, I’m not there yet.

And it’s probably no mre coincidence that, at this moment, as I write this, my wife is watching her favorite movie, I Am Sam, an emotional tour de force describing the journey of a developmentally disabled man as he attempts to fight for custody of his daughter. This is one of our favorite movies, in part, because it illustrates the desperation that both main characters (Sean Penn as Sam, and Michelle Pfeiffer as his lawyer) feel in their inability to care for their children like they really want to. They’re doing the best they can, but despite their best efforts and intentions, they just keep falling short.

This, I’m sure, is a vexing problem that eventually befalls parents of every stripe and category. Sometimes I’m overcome with flashes of overwhelming ineptitude when it pertains to just my professional and ministry life, so I can’t even really imagine how hard it might become once a child enters the mix. But when the time comes, my child probably isn’t going to care about — or even understand really, until they grow older — my perfectionist issues, or my insecurity related to my health and getting older, or any of that stuff. At the end of the day, my responsibility as a father will be to do whatever I can do help them develop into fully functional adults. All those issues will just be stuff I’ve gotta deal with in the process.

Maybe, when they grow older, they’ll be able to understand more of my shortcomings, and have some empathy for their dad. Maybe they’ll find in their hearts to forgive their dad for screwing up so royally, in whatever ways I most likely will. This process of evaluating your upbringing, of realizing what was missing all along, this is a hard thing for parents and children to go through. Some people don’t get to it until it’s much too late.

Fortunately for me, though, I still have time to become a better parent. So it’s to people like me, people who hope to become parents, people who believe in multiculturalism, people who appreciate and savor the symbolism inherent in blended familes, that I need to send this message:

Please, please, please… know your limits.

The Beatles said, “All you need is love.” I wish that were true, but it’s not.

There are signs are everywhere showing that the best of intentions are never enough to provide a fully functional, stable upbringing. This feature on transracial adoption in Seattle’s alt-weekly, The Stranger, illustrates this point so well. The premise of the piece is that transracial adoption, specifically of Black children by White parents, is all well and good in theory, but in reality it’s fraught with emotional and psychological peril.

There are many White parents who take on Black children with the best of intentions, but without the knowledge and intentionality on the front end to maintain their child’s racial identity, these parents will end up inadvertently stunting their cultural development. Color-blindness is still blindness.

The thing is, adoption even within your own generalized sense of ethnicity can still be tremendously difficult. Some friends of mine have done a yeoman’s job of raising up several children that they received from the state, all of whom have had significant difficulties with various forms of mental illness. And they’ve struggled tremendously with how to raise these children, in part, because they had no genetic similarities to draw upon.

Lest you think I’m dreading the prospect of parenthood altogether, let me say for the record: There is hope. The fact that our nation’s 44th president will have come from a similar upbringing as that of many transracially adopted children speaks to this sense of possibility. So to those who have adopted children of a different ethnicity and have struggled with what it means to bring them up with a sense of cultural normalcy, I mean to salute you, not vilify you.

Nevertheless, my hope is that, moving forward, people will count the cost when they make these important decisions. Being married can be pretty difficult on its own. Staying married and having children raises the ante considerably. So if you’re going to ratchet up the degree of difficulty even further by adding layers of racial, ethnic AND biological differences, don’t do so lightly. Make sure you do your best to know what you’re getting into, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that mettle and determination can compensate for ignorance and naivete.

Because this isn’t just some grand social experiment. These are real human lives we’re talking about. And having a loving resolve to be the best parents we can be… that’s a great start. But it’s only a start. So if that’s the end of our deliberation process, then our children pay the price.

Sometimes, it seems, good intentions just aren’t enough.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for Mixin’ It Up with me.


Obama’s In, So No More Business As Usual

Well, he did it.

My brother lost the bet that he and I made several months back, wherein he all but swore on a Bible that there was no way that Barack Obama could beat John McCain in a general election.

I believe his quote was,

“A brotha… in these times? Against a war hero? Come on, now.

Honestly, I was convinced Obama would make a good president even before he finished consulting his exploratory committee, and almost two years ago, I said so in this space. (Though if I were to be honest, I’d have to give credit to Eric Zorn for saying so first.)

Two years later, he’s about to become president. As so many have said, his election signaled a momentous mile marker in the history of these United States of America, and for many reasons, most of which I need not enumerate.

However, I am concerned about the dark side of his imminent presidency.

No, not the Republicans-that-think-Obama-is-the-antichrist dark side. I’m not so much worried about his policies per se — though I do have some concerns, and I’ll surely have more as time goes on — as I am about his supporters.

Now here’s the thing… part of the reason why President-elect Obama won is because he was able to collect a broad constituency of supporters. People of color (however you choose to define that term), the educated, urban dwellers, and younger voters all turned out in record numbers for Obama. Black and White, straight and gay, in coastal cities and in so-called flyover states, many, many people chose to support his as their choice for president.

As a result, my generalizations about “Obama supporters” should not to be taken too broadly, as many of them will not fit sizable portions of his constituency, just as generalizations tend to fall flat when applied to any large group of people. There are always exceptions to the rule here.

On the other hand, if the shoe fits… you know the rest.

My biggest question for Obama supporters is this: what now?

If the biggest accomplishment in President-elect Obama’s campaign was successfully engaging people in the political process who had previously been relegated to the sidelines, then I fear the biggest letdown will be most of those people feeling satisfied, complacent, and ultimately returning to business as usual.

This is an understandable response, because right about now the emotional highs should be all but worn off. Even Chicagoans, who probably felt as much pride about Obama winning the presidency as they did about the Bears winning the Super Bowl, still have to confront the fact that they still live in Chicago. Just because their guy is about to take the highest office, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems in the here and now. Neighborhoods need help. Bills need to be paid.

The problem, though, with business as usual, is that it violates the spirit of all the promises that were made in the campaign. All the rhetoric of Obama-going-to-bridge-the-divides-and-usher-in-a-healing-dawn… well, if you were an Obama supporter and you meant it, then it’s time for you to do your part in living up to the promise. You can’t be all high-minded and idealist during a campaign, and then, now that your guy has been crowned, go back to doing things the way they’ve always been done.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about several things.

First, I’m talking about policy.

Those of you dyed-in-the-wool blue-state Dems should not expect the entire framework of policy advocacy coming from the executive branch to simply march to the left, because that’s not what Barack Obama promised. On several issues (none of which I will name because I don’t want to get too bogged down in minutia) he has been known to embrace certain tenets of conservative ideology — personal responsibility, for example.

Midway through Obama’s campaign, his policy wonks made several concessions here and there in order to maintain a broad constituency and ward off attacks of being the most liberal Senator in recent history. And even though it angered his vocal Democrat base … it worked. Obama was elected. So if he doesn’t back some of that talk up with pragmatic solutions rather than standard liberal dogma, the moderate, independant core of voters that sided with him will turn against him. And he and his staff are smart enough to know that. So those of you who expect the incoming Obama administration to be an avalanche of leftist initiatives, don’t hold your breath.

I’m not just talking about policy, though. I’m also talking about personal conduct, especially as it relates to the political process. Now I realize that some issues are hot-button issues, and no amount of high-minded speeches about unity will appease the rabid constituents on either side of the debate. (Gay marriage and Proposition 8, for example.)

But I hope that we can take some cues from our leaders and stop treating every issue like it’s “us against them.” The truth is, unless you’re talking about sports, most of the time it’s hard to figure out who represents “us” and who represents “them,” because people are different and different people respond to issues in different ways.

And since there is a clear Democratic majority in at least two of the three branches of our federal government, and since we can therefore expect some amount of public opinion and policy to gradually shift leftward, I hope Democrats will remember what it was like to be on the outside looking in, and be gracious enough to respect the opinions of those in the minority. After all, our president-elect made his case to America largely on his initial opposition to the war in Iraq, an unpopular stance at the time. There will surely be other urgent issues where many of our credentialed, experienced, qualified leaders will disagree. If Democrats simply resort to using their numbers to shout down the opposition, they’ll quickly relinquish the moral high ground that they worked so hard to gain. Because nothing screams “business as usual” like doing very the thing you’ve been accusing your opponents of doing.

Finally, it’s my sincere hope that admidst the throngs of inspired, dedicated Obama supporters, there will remain a remnant of folks who will continue to engage their government on state and city levels now that the hype has worn off.

Here in Portland where I reside, it’s a badge of honor for progressive types to complain about how terrible the Bush years have been for our country, which is one of the reasons why sarcastic, leftist bumper stickers sell so well here. Well guess what, folks? Our guy is going to become president now! How about we turn some of that energy into doing something better instead of simply complaining about it?

I was amused by so much celebrity support of Obama during the general election, because I knew supporting Obama was the hot, fashionable thing to do. But if more actors, NBA players, singers and artists of all flavors put a little less attention into being sexy and more attention into living lives of substance, then maybe our country would be better off. I would call some of them out by name like I did over the Tookie Williams thing, but there are just too many to mention, so I won’t.

Besides, celebrities can help bring attention and visibility to certain issues, but when it comes to doing the real work of healing America, the lion’s share of that burden falls on regular people, people like you, Whoever You Are. Policies can help, sure, but regulations can’t and won’t take the place of being respectful and choosing to engage in the areas where we have opportunity.

And when opportunity meets preparation, then boom … we’re in business.

Let’s just make sure it’s not business as usual.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for Mixin’ It Up with me.


Obama Effigy: By Colonel Mustard, With the Candlestick, In the Library

With so much name-calling and blind accusations flying around in the wake of the Obama effigy incident at good old Gee Eff You (that still cracks me up), my expectations for thorough, nuanced reporting or analysis have remained pretty low, because most of the noise generated has been voiced in comments sections of articles where, by and large, a lot of folks don’t even begin to have a clue about the larger issues at play.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised by a Newsweek piece that I read today, which does its best to deal with the hardest question surrounding investigators: what was the motive behind hanging Obama in effigy?

The best part was discussion of the concept of “the limited good,” which may be an understandable explanation for the undercurrent of resentment that many White students may have toward programs like Act Six:

That’s a phenomenon called “the limited good,” explains Ron Stansell, a professor of religion at the school, and it may have more to do with the effigy hanging than outright racism. The concept, in anthropology, refers to the perception that wealth is a finite entity, such that one person’s gain is at another person’s expense; that economic life is a zero-sum game.

“I think that’s what I’m seeing here,” Stansell says. Students might think to themselves, “Here are minority students that have gotten a benefit I have not gotten. It must mean, in the cosmic scope of things, that I’ve been cheated.”

The point is that academic success is not a zero-sum game, where certain students only succeed if they can do so at others’ expense.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t winners and losers in college life, because there are winners and losers in all frames of life. It just means that the people who blame other students of color in general, the Act Six program specifically, and (almost inexplicably) Senator Obama for their own insecurity or lack of opportunity shouldn’t look much further than the mirror if they want a clearer assessment of culpability.

More specifically, the four individuals who owned up to this abhorrent prank are not losers because they chose to hang a cardboard cutout of Obama from a tree and scrawl “Act Six reject” on it. They were most likely losers in some shape, form or fashion already. All they did with their prank is notify the rest of the world of their decency deficit.

I hope that Newsweek story will be the last word on this particular incident, because what students at George Fox need, more than knowing the motive for the crime, is how to move forward and bring more healing into their community.

And thanks be to God, they already have a clue about how to do that. Matter of fact, they have more than a clue.

They have the whole story.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for Mixin’ It Up with me.


Apparently Change Takes Longer in Rural Universities, Even Christian Ones

Just when you think that White people have finally come to terms with an African-American candidate — dare I still say, front-runner — for the presidency, you see stuff like this.

Hot off the Oregonlive newsfeed: Obama likeness found hanging at George Fox University.

Considering that I know many George Fox alums (I’m related to one, good friends with another) and a few GF students (also related to one)… and, considering I came **this close** to landing a job there as campus liaison for the students in the Act Six program, I can honestly say that this story disturbed me pretty deeply. (Especially the tidbit that the effigy of Obama was labeled with the words ‘Act Six reject.’)

I will admit, however, that although it took awhile for the sting of losing out on that position to heal (as I am very passionate about reconciliation in academic and faith communities), from the outside looking in, I’m quite thankful not to be either Robin Baker or Joel Perez, who now have the unenviable task of sorting through this mess and leading the campus toward a greater sense of community and responsibility.

I’ve just now I’ve become aware of the departure of Burel Ford, the former multicultural director, which apparently happened just a few weeks ago. There’s probably no direct correlation between what happened today and his departure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the current working environment that precipitated this prank is part of what made it desirable for him to leave.

And, if that were the case, I wouldn’t entirely blame him for that choice.

It seems like only yesterday that I was removing posters with provocative imagery from the sign in front of my church.

Ah, the good old days, when racial tension only flared up in the city.

Lord, help us.

(No, that’s not just an expression. Seriously, Lord… help us.)

EDIT (9/30):

Four GFox students have since confessed. I might be wrong, but according to everything I’ve read, there goes the left-wingers-did-it-for-attention theory.


An Open Letter to A Young Republican

(By the way, this isn’t just one of those generic open letters aimed at anyone who fits the description. There is an actual young Republican that I tried to engage recently in conversation surrounding these issues, but his lack of response to my questions and continued rhetoric on his blog afterward have caused me to believe that he is not interested in dealing seriously with these particular issues. This saddens me. Yet it is my hope that there are others who share some of his convictions who might wrestle with these questions, and in so doing, enrich the current wasteland of political commentary with honesty and sensitivity, two facets in short supply in the blogosphere.)

(Also, I realize that I’m going to throw around some generalizations. I’ll qualify them here and there, but my sentences are already long to begin with, so just bear with me. I try not to get too bogged down in politics, but I just couldn’t keep silent any longer. This post has been a long time coming.)

To A Young Republican,


Your political party, left for dead by many pundits even before the primary season started because of its affiliation with our once-popular current President, has managed to get back into the game, big time.

The addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket has re-energized the red-state faithful, many of whom wouldn’t have ridden the bandwagon for John McCain alone. I’m quite sure that you, like me, have more than a few misgivings about the candidate you’re standing behind, but the competitive nature of politics has a way of causing us to suppress those misgivings for awhile. As the thinking goes, if my guy is going to be attacked left and right by the opposition anyway, there’s no point in me piling on and doing their work for them.

This, along with many other tenets of conventional political wisdom, scares me to no end.

Not because it means that more people have rallied under the banner of McCain/Palin and that means the GOP might win the race, though that would sadden me somewhat.

No, the thing that most distresses me about the current political landscape as I see it expressed by people in your shoes, is that I feel like I should hate your guts when the truth is that I hardly know you.

You might be wondering what I mean.

Allow me to explain.

Lately, I’ve seen a boldness come over you and your peers. It’s a boldness that borders on belligerance. It seems to come from a collective sigh of relief that finally you have a candidate (or co-candidate, as it were) that can steal some headlines from the celebrity of Obama, which is no small feat. And in one sense, I find this behavior to be mostly harmless. If more young people are getting excited and engaged in the political process, I generally see that as a net plus, regardless of which side they land on ideologically.

And even though I’ve seen several high-profile Republicans (including Rudy Giuliani, and Sarah Palin herself) take some cheap shots, that doesn’t bother me that much. I mean, we are still talking about politics. And as any good Chicagoan will tell you, politics ain’t beanbag.

Most well-meaning baby boomers have already seen how divisive and ugly political races become, so it has become social custom for them to simply avoid talking about it in polite conversation. If you don’t bring it up, they won’t either. Not belonging to that generation, though, you and I tend to play by a different set of rules.

Generations X and Y tend to, according to my anecdotal evidence, wear their politics on their sleeves. In some cases, it’s a logical and systematic expression of their core beliefs about life and humanity. But for many of us, it’s more fundamental than that… on both the left and right, we younger adults often ride our respective political bandwagons as a statement of identity. More than just believing in certain ideals, we belong to groups of people who are passionate about the same things we’re passionate about.

So we dig into politics with the same zeal and passion that we give in other areas of our life, if not more so. It becomes a part of our identity, like the brands that we consume or the sports teams that we follow. (It’s no wonder the whole Democrats-are-Macs, Republicans-are-PCs meme is still popular.)

And realizing this helps me to understand why so many of you absolutely despise Barack Obama.

It’s because his political ascendance happened so quickly and so dramatically that even before he declared any official candidacy, his media coverage far exceeded the substance of his overall political achievement. Riding mostly on the strength of his ideas, his charismatic personality, and the cultural and historical significance of his biracial heritage, he managed to parlay a few lucky breaks into a seat in the U.S. Senate, and now he’s poised as the frontrunner to become President.

Is it jealousy? Yeah, there’s probably a little of that.

But I think it’s mostly disdain for the culture of celebrity that has surrounded his candidacy for so long. The Hollywood endorsements, the will.i.am tribute song, the endless parade of T-shirts and trinkets with his name plastered all over them. I’m sure by now someone somewhere is selling Barack Obama waffle irons, where you can pour your syrup over waffles stenciled with his high-wattage smile, and melt little pats of butter that spell out ‘YES WE CAN.’

It’s a little much, I agree.

So combining that with his stances on abortion and gay marriage, his opposition to the Iraq war, and other hot-button issues… it all equals a candidate that you love to hate, even more so than Hillary.

And like I said before, if this only had to do with politics, it wouldn’t bother me that much.

The problem is that many of you, dare I say, most of you, are Christians. And many of you are Bible-believing, sanctified, blood-bought evangelical Christians, which means you’re not shy about making your beliefs heard in the public square.

And those beliefs, specifically the theological ones that differentiate Christian faith from all the other faiths out there, are beliefs that I share. So I think it’s great that you want to advocate for a candidate that you interpret as representing Christianity as you know and understand it. In your mind, you’re doing your part to advance God’s kingdom.

And trust me, I’m all about advancing God’s kingdom.

But it seems to me that, in your zeal to elect the guy you want in office (McCain), it’s not enough to argue that your guy is better. No, you’ve got to tear down the other guy in the process.

Which, again, is not that big a deal if all we’re talking about is politics. Laker fans don’t care if I call Kobe Bryant a diva or a Jordan wannabe… they know that’s what opposing fans do. So I don’t mind that you want to tear Obama down in the public square. As American citizens, you have a right to do that.

As Christians, however, you have a responsibility to hold a higher standard of conduct. Name-calling, spreading false rumors, and fear mongering may be standard behavior for political strategists, but Jesus told us to, you know, love our enemies. Even our political enemies.

So the fact that you don’t seem to be doing that particularly well makes people take notice, especially people who don’t know God like you do. And no disrespect to all the Dallas Mavericks fans, but if even Mark Cuban thinks that politics have gotten a little out of control, then something is very wrong.

Now I know I’m risking looking like a hypocrite here, because many of you might be wondering why I never took the time to defend George W. for the merciless pounding he’s been taking from the left. Where was the call to civility then, you might be asking.

Well, you’re right. I’ve been guilty of the same offense. I’ve chosen to selectively follow God’s will and leading based on the convenience of my politics. And since Bush is easy to make fun of, I didn’t stand up for him at times when I could have. I chose to ignore that whole passage of Romans 13 that talks about how God has ordained certain authorities to be over us.

But… and no offense, fellow Democrats, but uh… it’s a little different when Republicans do it, because the GOP is supposed to be the party that upholds Christian values.

I mean, I know Barack said that whole bit about how “we serve an awesome God in the blue states” during his coming out party in 2004, but I don’t think most of America was really picking up what he was laying down. Liberal Democrats already have the reputation of being secular, immoral, and Godless.

And frankly, even though it saddens me to see liberal bloggers, pundits, and journalists engaging in the same name-calling and fear-mongering, it doesn’t surprise me that much. The prophet Jeremiah (no, not that Jeremiah) told us the heart of man is deceitfully wicked. So when you have a population of people that is, by and large, without the truth of God as we understand it, what should one expect?

But you, on the hand… you guys are supposed to know better.

And I think that if you really understood how much some of your actions help push people away from God instead of drawing them back to God, you would do things differently.

Now as we watch the rest of the drama unfold in this march toward November, I honestly don’t know who is going to win. At this point, I could see it going either way.

But do me a favor, okay?

Regardless of who wins, lets cut out all the vitriol. Lets do our best to keep it about policies and principles.

And lets agree to respect the office of the President, regardless of who actually occupies the Oval Office.

And lets not view the President simply as an extension of the party to which he (or she) belongs, but as a three-dimensional human being with flaws and hopes and bad hair days just like the rest of us. Because it’s a lot harder to demonize someone you can identify with.

And if we can all identify with a figure as polarizing and controversial as the President of the United States, then maybe we’re not as far apart as it seems.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for Mixin’ It Up with me.


Links to make you think: Campaign Edition

I try not to let this blog get too political because I don’t want to be known as a stooge for either the left or right (masthead notwithstanding).

Mostly, I just like to get people thinking.

So here are a bunch of pieces I’ve read lately that have really got me thinking.