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May 05, 2008 09:49 AM UTC

Memory Lane

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  • by: JO

Took a lil’ trip down Memory Lane tonight. Watched Mississippi Burning, about the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner on June 21, 1964 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. (You can watch it on Comcast’s Free Movies On Demand if you have that service.)

Made me think about the Reverend Doctor Jeremiah.  He’s old enough to remember 1964. And living in South Chicago as he does, he has, I’m sure, lots of stories to tell. Stories about people who came to Chicago from Mississippi. Or people who just lived in Chicago’s big black ghetto. And, no, I don’t blame Reverend Wright if he feels angry about those stories. I don’t blame him if he has a certain view of America as he experienced it as a young man, a set of experiences far different than mine, or any white man’s. Only thing I can’t imagine is how he couldn’t be burning with anger, ready to set some more fires.

And of course thinking of Jeremiah Wright made me think of Barack Obama…,  

who wasn’t three years old when those murders took place, when the battle for civil rights was fought along the back roads of Alabama and in the back allies of Watts. When the world saw just how far the white racists of America would go to preserve injustice. And who now speaks about reconciliation, about identifying our common problems and solving them together, about putting aside our long hatreds and alienation.

And Barack brought to mind Hillary Rodham Clinton, Duck Huntress of Scranton and Princess of the North Shore. A year ago at this time she was a shoo-in. After all, her husband had been “the first black president.” She could count on the African American vote to whisk her right back into that big ol’ house with the furniture she liked so much. But a funny thing happened on the way back to 1600. Barack Obama. And before you could say Hillary-be-nimble, Bill-be-quick, the ever-calculating Clintons wrote off the black vote, labeled Barack the Jesse Jackson of 2008, and–manna from Heaven, praise the Lord!–jumped onto Jeremiah Wright’s intemperate remarks. Oh yes. Hillary would have walked right out of that church, very first whiff that the reverend remembered Mississippi, or the federal syphilis study, or segregated armed forces, or…or… Yes sir, wrote off that black vote just like that ’cause it waren’t hers no more, and what waren’t hers was worthless (unless somehow it could be turned to her personal advantage). Decided instead to appeal to the racism that lies just below the surface of lots of “white working class” voters who resent their economic straits and unhappily blame “affirmative action,” also known as uppity niggers represented by a nigger in a tie, and, hell, we all know they can be bought for 18 cents a gallon for 90 days even if those elitist economists don’t! And what better way to do that than go where those rancid little racists swill down the bile of Bill O’Reilly, to talk about how fast she would have run the other way the very second Jeremiah Wright remembered Mississippi and dared to wonder out loud about “the land of the free” (though he surely knew something about the homes of the brave burned down in the middle of the night).

And so here we are. Sure, her chances are diminishing. But more than that, she is diminished. Utterly. Believed in hammerin’ out Justice, singin’ ’bout Freedom, until those words didn’t represent guaranteed votes, Whereupon it was Jeremiah Wright, mornin’, noon, and night, and her old suckup Stephanopoulos (I won’t bother to look up his name, if that’s not the way he spells it) demanding … demanding … to know of Barack Obama whether Jeremiah Wright loves this country as much as Barack Obama does.

All hail democracy, American style. Turns out campaigns do reveal something about candidates. I’ll grant that for Hillary fans, her performance must be excruciating, and I guess I can sympathize. Certainly I welcome you to the Real Campaign. Soon HRC will be past tense…for good. And we can move forward into daylight with Barack Obama.

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