Sunday, October 12, 2008

To Disobey One's Conscience Is Neither Just Nor Safe.

I'd like to talk about the following videos and articles.  If you want the post that follows to make full and complete sense, please watch them and read them before you read the rest of the post.

I'm sorry.  I'm sure that's a lot to digest.  I know it was a lot for me.  I've been haunted by these things for the past two days.  It's been hard for me to continue with homework, hard for me to work with all of this weighing on my mind.

I've resisted stating my opinions on this political race for a long time.  Here and there, I've scattered seeds of how it might relate to fear and love and how we ought to act.  But my conscience calls me to do more.  And, as Martin Luther (the monk-turned reformer) once said:  "To disobey one's conscience is neither just nor safe.  God help me.  Amen."

I am afraid.  I will tell you that truth right now.  I am afraid of our fear.  Fear can do horrible things, can cause horrible things.  And fear leading to hatred is even worse.  As Martin Luther King Jr. once said:
Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity.  Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity.  It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.  Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.  Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.
-Strength to Love, 1963

What I read in these articles, what I see in these videos, is fear turned to hate.  I readily admit that many of the writers and videographers of these pieces are probably biased.  I readily admit that I might be biased.  But I cannot ignore the plain fact that the people in these articles and videos, yelling "terrorist," and "kill him," and "commie @3$*$#@" and a whole host of other things have been scared into hate.

It is the unfortunate nature of elections to divide us.  But when that division turns to hate, people get hurt.  I'm worried.

As a biracial child, the uncle of two beautiful quadri-racial boys (I think I just coined that term; their father is African American and Central American, their mother Chinese and Dutch) I am struggling against an overwhelming fear.

I cannot, in good conscience, support John McCain because of his lack of good judgment, and the rhetoric of his campaign.  Let me clarify that I am not starry-eyed over Barack Obama either.  He has made many mistakes, and told many half-lies and untruths and has said many partisan things.  But the tenor of his arguments and the driving force that I see in his campaign is one of hope and not anger, calm and not strife, unifying and not dividing.  Over the last few weeks, however, I have become more and more convinced that John McCain, a good man, a strong man, an honorable man, has been corrupted by his own campaign.  As much as he has a right to say that he has been a maverick (and he has truly reached across the aisles and bucked the system), I think that he is no longer.  The nasty politics of Washington have tainted him.  More than this, I think that he lacks foresight.

I question his judgment because of what has happened recently in his campaign.  Could he not have foreseen that relating Obama to a Terrorist, questioning if we know who Obama is, playing down his patriotism and calling him "that one," during the debate could lead to hate?  Could he not have foreseen that using a William Ayers line of attack on a presidential candidate who is mistakenly called a muslim and whose name is often linked to a known terrorist, simply by the changing of one letter, would lead to people wondering if Obama is a terrorist, fearing him, hating him, calling for his death?  Could he not have foreseen, or at least controlled the rhetoric of the people who surround him, who pray that God would protect God's honor by defeating Obama, who tangentially relate Obama to "bad guys," who "pal around with terrorists," who send smear after smear against Obama, who incite crowds by linking Obama to Osama with bombing the Pentagon?  McCain, in his ads, has called on the American people to question the judgment of his opponent.  It has only caused me to question McCain's.

And even though I applaud McCain for trying to tone down the rhetoric, it obviously hasn't worked, and he still, a day later, uses the same tactics.  His running mate uses the same tactics.  Other people in his party use the same tactics.  And McCain has the audacity to mention that he doesn't want to tone down his constituents' ferocity, just ask them for more respect?  It's the ferocity that scares me.

I worry for Obama and his family, and my family.  In a world where racism still lives, where some jump at any chance to condemn and fear and hate and kill, I fear.  I do not think that everyone is acting in fear.  I do not believe that most people would kill out of hate.  But it only takes a few people with a desire to kill to cause incomprehensible damage in this world.

For those of you reading this blog who are questioning who Barack Obama is, whether he is related to terrorists, whether he was actually born in the United States, whether he is secretly trying to ruin the U.S., I've collected some facts for you.  If you've received a chain e-mail linking Obama to any number of questionable people and questionable things, I've covered that for you too.  Here are a few links:

All of these links are to, a wonderful website that has a whole host of articles that (as impartially as possible) seek to debunk lies about both candidates.  Believe me, there are a lot of things that Barack Obama has said that are misleading or downright false, and calls him out on them.  As far as I can tell, this website (recommended by many magazines and websites, both liberal and conservative and everything in between) is trying to get to the real truth behind the half-truths and political meanderings.  

I'm not asking you to vote for Barack Obama.  This post is not a political endorsement of any kind.  Please, follow the issues, find out what qualities you respect in a leader, make sure you really know what's going on and then vote for the candidate in whom you believe.  But I am calling you to search out your own heart, to look at the rhetoric that you have been listening to, to re-read the e-mails you've probably been sent.  I'm asking you to consider what those e-mails do to you, whether they make you angry and afraid.  I'm asking you to try to conquer your fear, as I am trying, with love.  I'm asking you to make an effort, every day, to learn the truth, and more importantly, to spread the truth.  I'm asking you to stop others when they spew forth hate, about either candidate.  I'm asking you to start standing up for those who have been oppressed.  I'm asking you to put a stop to the downward moral and ethical spiral that seems to be taking over our nation and our world.  It stops with us.  It stops now.  Here I stand; I can do no other; I cannot and will not recant.  God Help me, Amen.


Laurie said...

Marc, I respect your well-thought out, researched post, just as I respect your political position. I agree that fear and hate are terrible, divisive forces, but I don't agree that either candidate is trying to drive wedges of fear and hate into America. I consider the questions regarding Senator Obama's past associations valid, just as I consider questions regarding McCain's pas associations valid. We are so influenced by those around us; we should be able to ask about those influences.

What I can't fathom is how the supporters of both candidates can let their fervor turn so ugly. The recent McCain rally was well-covered, and we're both familiar with that, but I found this article that identifies some ugly, sad and scary behaviors of Senator Obama's supporters:

No politician, no president, can change this. Other than just being good and decent people ourselves, how do we and our friends change this?

Marc said...


Thank you for adding some levity and balance to the post. Those actions by Obama's supporters were NOT well covered and I hadn't found anything about them. So again, thank you.

I think I see a different fault in this situation in both men. I would like to make a slight nuance of a difference between what you perceived me saying about John McCain and what i would really like to say, and then to make a comment about the difference between this and the fault that I see Obama having. I think that I didn't clearly state what I see McCain doing wrong. I honestly don't think that he's trying to put a wedge in, or trying to divide people and spread hate. I think he's a much better man than that. I do think, however, that in trying to win this political election, he has done some things, I believe, without as much foresight as they needed, that have stoked the fires of hate that were already there. People already questioned Obama's patriotism, people already wondered whether Obama was Muslim, people wondered about whether or not Obama was born in the United States, people wondered whether or not they should fear him. By using this specific line of attack, which might have an arguably viable point about Obama's judgment, McCain, I hope unwittingly, added fire to these flames. If you watch the add on McCain's website about Ayers and Obama, it calls Obama dangerous, and constantly has pictures of him next to someone that they call a terrorist. That word-picture association sends a strong, subliminal message that, perhaps, Obama could be a terrorist, especially when coupled with Sarah Palin's remarks that Obama was "palling around with terrorists," and McCain's remarks that Obama had started his campaign in the living room of a terrorist. It also makes the subtle assumption that Barack Obama approves of these terrorist actions, and, in fact, this is what McCain's question of "judgment" is asking. This would make Obama seem like a person who would want to bomb the Pentagon, making him seem like a terrorist. Again, I don't think that this was McCain's intent, and I hope that it wasn't, but what I worry about is the foresight that was lacking in approving and condoning the use of those images and specific rhetoric to attack Obama. It also makes me worry about McCain, who, as an honorable man, once said that he would rather lose the election than lose the Iraq war. But now, he's pulling out all the stops to win the election (as anyone extremely desirous to win would). This, however, I think has led to some missteps that are potentially harmful and stoke the fire of hatred.
Obama, on the other hand, obviously hasn't reined in these supporters of his who are doing these horrible things. Now, people are hard to control, and people on all sides of the political spectrum get crazy over their politics. So I do not fully fault either candidate for the action of their constituents. Obama should definitely react and try to calm down his supporters. However, as far as I can tell (and I tried to read as many speeches of both men and watch as many ads as possible), Obama's rhetoric has not added kindling to the misguided actions of his supporters. He has not implied anything about Sarah Palin's stance on abortion. He has not linked Palin or McCain to anyone that should be stoned for any action. While, again, I think Obama should be more proactive about making sure that things like this don't happen and that he should apologize for what his supporters have done, Obama's rhetoric has not supported their actions. McCain's rhetoric was not thought through enough for it not to support hateful actions.
Regardless, both men have said very partisan things. Both men have bashed the other's political party. Both men have told untruths about each other. And I think this is where we come in. Not only can we lead decent lives, but we can also spread the word about the truths of the campaign. I highlighted McCain's arguments against Barack Obama because I saw them as potentially dangerous and they were the thing, obviously, that was being covered in the news and that i had the most access to. But we can tell the truth about both Candidates. We can talk about how both are good men. We can look at the way they deal with issues and with other people as a way of discerning between them. We can spread love as opposed to hate. I regret that possibly my previous post was construed as saying something overly negative about McCain. I didn't not mean it to be that way. I do believe that he is a good, noble man at heart, and that's what is so sad to me, that his campaign has come to the point where his rhetoric could be misconstrued rather easily as supporting hateful things. So. All that to say, thank you for your post, again, and for adding to the conversation.