The following article is by Anand Giridharadas, a commentator who writes for the New York Times. I find his articles interesting for their insight and lack of the bias which is frequently such a part of such commentaries. I believe this article on the inauguration is excellent and accurate. I do, however, wish it had contained mention of something that did not occur. And, since it did not occur it is easy to understand why Mr. Giridharadas made no mention of it. I refer to the sad fact that Pastor Louie Giglio did not appear on the program, a fact I mentioned in a previous post. Mr. Giglio’s only offense was that he believes the Bible and has preached concerning its teaching on homosexuality. Now, irrespective of one’s opinion about homosexuality, Giglio’s opinion is held by many Christians and people of other faiths as well. And for this common but politically incorrect belief Mr. Giglio was excluded. It was a sad commentary that by his exclusion millions of other Americans and Christians worldwide were placed on the “un-welcome” list. And with it, we, as a nation, have taken a giant step toward a new intolerance and witnessed a growing threat to religious freedom. It is amazing how those who have themselves felt the sting of intolerance are now participating in that which to them has been so wrong (or should I say such a sin). I suppose we should not be surprised as Franklin Graham and others have likewise been dis-invited to other government-sponsored or government-related events. Unless there is a national repentance this is only the beginning!!! My sister who is a regional volunteer for Voice of the Martyrs recently reminded me that “In 52 countries Christians are being imprisoned, tortured, and murdered–today.” We should be in prayer for them, and for those who persecute them. “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:3 RMF
An Inaugural That Spelled Evolution
By ANAND GIRIDHARADAS
Published: January 25, 2013
NEW YORK — For a measure of how the United States has changed in two generations, think about this: Most of the eminences who spoke or performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration would probably not have been able to land an advertising job at the fictional agency portrayed on the television series “Mad Men.”
Not Mr. Obama, since he’s black and his middle name is Hussein. Not Senator Charles E. Schumer, who’s Jewish. Not Myrlie Evers-Williams, who gave the invocation, or Beyoncé Knowles, who sang, because they’re both black and female. Speaking of female, not Kelly Clarkson, the singer — nor Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the Supreme Court, who, as a Hispanic, would have been doubly problematic. Speaking of Hispanic, not the Rev. Luis Leon — nor the inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, who is both Cuban-blooded and gay.
Reactions to the inauguration have dwelled on Mr. Obama’s ringing defense of modern liberalism. But the theater of the day was at least as telling as the speeches.
The ceremony seemed designed to expand, complicate, tie-dye the very definition of American, while suggesting an underlying unity. It celebrated, without explicitly announcing, a changing of the cultural guard — the transition to a country no longer lorded over by the white, the male, the heterosexual, the Protestant, the native-born and the native English-speaking. [I do take exception to Mr. Giridharadas’ characterization here and believe a statement such as, “… the transition to a country which was predominately…, or a country which was primarily governed by….” would be more accurate. RMF]
Many things about the day evoked a nation passing into new hands — the people onstage and Mr. Obama’s address, to be sure, but also the smaller gestures and moments.
You could see it in the faces on the National Mall, packed with people who, at the nation’s founding, would have been thought, on account of their pigment, fit for little more than hard labor or slavery. You could hear it when Mr. Obama became the first president to utter “gay” at an inauguration, and spoke of a 1969 raid on a gay bar in sanctifying language normally reserved for battlefields like Lexington and Normandy. You could feel it when Justice Sotomayor, a hero to many Hispanics, received the kind of cheers that Supreme Court justices simply don’t get. Or when the gay poet said that Americans live beneath “one sky” and switched his accent to pronounce “Colorado” in Spanish.
As data from the election last November showed, if you are a woman, or black or brown, or gay, or not Christian, you’re more likely to take to this vision of America as multiplicity. But, as the country has seen time and again, millions of people will not take to it, will instead feel threatened and excluded by all the talk of inclusion.
In parts of America where demographic and social change have been slower in coming, that inaugural stage can symbolize an ominous future: the United States as an increasingly centrifugal nation, made up of tribes spinning ever further from a center of shared culture and values. On the political right, there is an anxiety about its becoming a nation defined by “victimization” and by “lifestyle choices” — by the 47 percent who don’t pay federal income tax, by Americans arbitrarily deciding what heritage to claim, gender to identify as, sexuality to pursue, religion to practice and family structure, if any, to adopt. (That many of these may not, in fact, be choices is considered irrelevant.)
The rainbow coalition, as so many called it this past week, has its internal contradictions, too. Mr. Obama’s coalition is, in some ways, a coalition of the insufficiently enfranchised. But shared exclusion doesn’t resolve the many tensions among the members: between religious African-Americans and gays, who want to frame their cause as the next civil rights struggle; between union workers and the Hispanic immigrants whom they regard as depressing their wages; between the young, who’d benefit from investment in education and new industries, and the old, who want scarce federal money to shore up their pension funds.
A further complication is that this massive internal shift in demographics — the very real arc from “Mad Men” to that inaugural stage — coincides with the realities of a globalizing era, in which jobs flee to far-off places and a former Communist backwater like China is suddenly called a replacement superpower. Globalization has a tendency to make people feel acted-upon by distant, intangible forces. If you’re among those who feel alienated by that colorful inaugural stage, you might find yourself projecting your frustration over all the changes you can’t see onto people like Mr. Obama, who embody those changes that you can.
About globalization Mr. Obama spoke only passingly at the inauguration. It might seem a curious omission, given the immense challenge of competitiveness that the United States faces. But he did argue that a society that protects its people nourishes the most avid risk-taking, while calling for the kind of education system that allows a country to find and harness its best talent.
As citizens of a tolerant, hardworking, many-hued country, the president said, “We are made for this moment.” But the plain emphasis was on social justice, not economic dynamism. Whether that pursuit of justice fosters such dynamism or inhibits it, whether it unites America or intensifies its divides — these are things we’ll know only when Mr. Obama, already grayer after four years, is all salt and no pepper up there.