Saturday, August 16, 2008


Something sad is happening to my country ... and something necessary.

I'm saddened by the gibberish of the fearful - revealing deep and dark undercurrents of racism in my nation's character, all dressed up in right-wing clothing, pretending to raise serious questions about Obama's religion - "Isn't he Muslim?" - and political insight - "Why, he's nearly a Communist when it comes to health care."

I'm old enough to remember when there were "Colored Drinking Fountains."

And I remember my own racism - and the college professor who opened my eyes, my mind and heart. Yet there are stains on the soul that never go away.

How stained is the American soul. Though "we've come along away," the stain remains ... especially in the ignorant, the unlettered, those for whom thought creates emotional dissonance and headaches. All decent folk, of sorts, but with narrow loyalties and clannish behavior. Decent folk, of sorts, who are mostly frightened and easily swayed.

But what of the folks who ought to know better? The educated, the well-trained, the safe and the secure. Suddenly, the specter of Obama triggers ancient fears. And engineers and teachers are suddenly sweating rednecks cheering on the latest lynching, eyes glazed with hatred so deep, so total, it defies understanding.

It's a demon! And by that, I mean something hideous, something utterly irrational, something that rarely reveals itself for what it is, simply because it's afraid of discovery, yet when it feels safe, it pulls off the mask and we see its hellish visage.

I suppose this latest convulsion of spirit is needed.

How else to confront it?

We've a long way to go. Nations, like people, take a long time to grow up. In reality, most nations never become anything more than adolescents with a credit card and a car.

Yet our prayers remain:

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.