I want to say a few words about Barack Obama.
Here is my response.
In order to be inclusive — in order to move beyond the politics of divisiveness and bring our country together — is it important to talk with people you profoundly disagree with, people with opinions you find repugnant? Is it important to invite them to sit down and talk so you can try to work out your differences and find common ground?
Yes. It absolutely is. The President needs to talk with leaders of the Republican party who are trying to tear him down, with leaders of powerful political movements he opposes, with leaders of countries who despise us. No question.
But is it important to invite them to GIVE THE INVOCATION AT YOUR FREAKIN’ INAUGURATION?!?!?
No. It is not.
And it is an honor that absolutely should not have been given to Rick Warren.
Obama supports Warren on his work with poverty and AIDS. Fine. He couldn’t find a religious leader for his inaugural invocation who’s done good work with poverty and AIDS… and who isn’t a homophobic, anti- choice, anti- science, anti- atheist, anti- any- religion- that- doesn’t- agree- with- him, pro- assassination, lying, red-baiting bigot?
I’ve said this before about Obama: My greatest fear about him is that he wants too badly for everybody to like him. My fear is that his palpable desire for everybody to get along — and for everybody to get along with him — means that he will be too tolerant of intolerance, too inclusive of divisiveness, too unwilling to take a firm principled stand that may piss some people off.
I’m beginning to think that my fears were justified.
Let there be no mistake about it. This is not just about Rick Warren’s opposition to marriage equality, as the mainstream media has been pitching it. It is about his equation of homosexuality with pedophilia and incest. It is about his support of programs to “cure” LGBT people of our LGBT-ness. It is about his own acknowledgement that he ignored AIDS until the widespread orphaning of children in Africa by the epidemic was brought to his attention. It is about his absurd, patently false claim that legalizing same-sex marriage would infringe on his right of free speech.
And it’s not just about his stands on LGBT issues. It’s about his own assertion that the only difference between him and James Dobson is one of tone. It’s about his rabid opposition to a woman’s right to choose abortion, comparing abortion to the Holocaust and calling the goal of reducing the number of abortions a charade. It’s about his rabid opposition to stem cell research. It’s about his opinion that the U.S. assassination of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be “the legitimate role of government.” It’s about his pretense that he doesn’t get involved in electoral politics, when he sent an email to thousands of other pastors in 2004 telling them to vote for Bush. It’s about his red-baiting of religious leaders who fight for social and economic justice, referring to them as “Marxists.”
And — let’s not leave out the atheists — it is about his declaration that people who don’t believe in God are not fit to be President.
Should Obama be willing to talk with him?
Probably. Sure. I don’t actually object to that.
But should Obama have invited him to a place of high honor at one of the most historic occasions in American history?
Absolutely not. It is a slap in the face. It puts a serious tarnish on what should have been one of the most shining days in our country’s history.
(Oh, and P.S.: Before anybody leaps in with an “I told you so”: I never thought Obama was going to be perfect. I knew he was going to disappoint us at some point. I knew we were going to have to hold his feet to the fire on some issues. I was just hoping I could wait until after he was actually President before that started. And I’m still not sorry I voted for him. I still hold with the harm reduction model of politics, and I still think he’s going to be about a hundred times better than McCain would have been. I’m just beginning to think that my hopes for a Democratic President who might not be just another shilly- shallying suck-up to the far right were unfounded. Damn.)