Friday, September 11, 2009

More of the Same...

For those who haven't seen it, I have a new essay in today's Religion Dispatches on the controversy surrounding Obama's back-to-school speech. In this essay I reflect on the possible role that the religion of fear may have played in motivating the paranoid response.


  1. When I was a teenager, from around the beginning of the Bush administration and onwards, the consensus among my peers was a general hatred of America (not every American), which was a little hypocritical since our generation was more Americanized than any before. I had a more nuanced love-hate relationship with it (I loved democrats, Hollywood, NASA, Disney, the founding fathers, Lincoln, Martin Luther King and many American authors, scientists and thinkers etc. I hated republicans, every American war since WWII, capitalism and most of all Microsoft (I still think they install the bugs on purpose to keep us dependent on their constant upgrades riddled with more and more flaws. I miss Win 98 SE.)) What I have never been is indifferent (in the sense that I am more or less indifferent to the state of affairs in Luxembourg).
    I currently view America as a great nation (both quantitatively and qualitatively) in which anything can happen and almost everything already has, for good and ill. As with every great nation great atrocities have been committed in its name along with creative and beneficial innovations and inspiring social progresses. But what has been done in the past is of little importance compared to how things are in the present and what can be done in the future. The question is what we wish to associate ourselves with.

    I have always had some faith in America along with a hope for its future and a love for its people. The day Obama was elected president all of this was strengthened. America truly is a country in which everything is possible. I stayed up all night watching the election and from the moment I realized that he would win I had a grin on my face that lasted for days. Even thought I find his politics to be not social enough I think he is a huge step in the right direction and I feel certain that not only America but also the world will benefit from his administration. No country is an island (well, some are, but don’t strain the image).
    Even thought many still carries with them the subconscious fears and prejudices of unenlightened times I am convinced (call it transcendent hope) that this too will fade in time, either with a bang or a whimper. I guess it all comes down to our faith in our children and their education. The fact that your son’s school decided to show the presidents speech is definitely a good sign, although the depressing fact that many didn’t is of course less encouraging. When I think about it, the fact that his speech even stirred a controversy should be considered a very bad sign… I’ll stop my rambling now. Both your post and your article were well written and thought provoking. It was a very good point that the extreme right is probably most afraid of being shown that Obama actually is one they can relate to on several issues, and not the Enemy of All that is Right that it is polemically more convenient for them to paint him as. Keep up the good work!

    PS: In most countries red is the socialist color. What happened to the righteous cry of better dead than red? On the other hand, the republicans used to be the most left winged and the democrats the most right winged. Funny how things change…

  2. "The fact that your son’s school decided to show the presidents speech is definitely a good sign"

    Yes. I need to say that I was actually quite favorably impressed with how my local school district handled the entire affair. They couldn't ignore the outcry from parents, but they didn't let it control them either. And once the text of Obama's speech was made public and its uncontroversial character confirmed, it seems as if they proceeded accordingly.

  3. I said republicans when I should have said the Republican Party. I did not and do think that republicans are bad people, nor do I hate them. Hatred is also a strong word for what was mostly annoyance. I have since come to see hatred (the one that consumes us) as destructive under any circumstance; justified indignation is something else.

    I don't think it’s love of money or egotism that makes them afraid of a more socialized society, but concern for individual freedom, which is more admirable, although, I think, misled. Many republicans (and democrats for that matter) have instead a great spirit of charity. I admire that about you; your communities take care of your own. We have lost most of that. I would also applaud the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives of Bush, so I don't think his administration was wholly bad either. But I still believe that Obama will do a much better job.

    I also do care about the well being of Luxembourgians : )