Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Putting my derriere in a chair

A writer friend of mine used this phrase in describing her greatest initial challenge. I can relate; it seems I've already missed my self-imposed Monday deadline. Back in the years when I wrote a bi-monthly column for the Somerville Journal, I never missed a deadline--having that external commitment kept me honest and motivated--scared of losing my gig, or both.

I'd like to find another chance to work as a columnist, even for a small paper, but so far no luck...so in the mean time, here goes.

I woke up this morning in a fog. Actually, I was half awake since about 5 am, tossing and turning. As the mid-term elections draw near, I'm getting mildly obsessed, praying for a Democratic victory and a partial end to the nightmare of the past 6 yrs. (Wake me when the George W. Bush administration is over). Lately I've been cruising over to Slate.com, listening to Air America (liberal lefty) radio, and even googling newspaper websites like the Nashville Tennessean and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to see how things are in a few key battleground states. From what I can discover, it looks like the Dems are ahead in Ohio, RI, Montana, NJ, Maryland and PA. I'll be delighted to see Rick Santorum (a member of the far right who has equated homosexuality with beastiality) consigned to the sidelines, along with a bunch of his Republican bretheren.

But in Tennessee, things don't look so good. (Why am I not surprised?). Harold Ford, a moderate, light-skinned, "non-threatening," born-again Christian is trying to become the first African-American senator elected from a Southern state since Reconstruction. According to the Tennessean, (http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061031/NEWS0206/61030052) Ford is now 8 points behind. Though I lived in Tennessee--as a student at UT/Knoxville 25+ years ago, I know the Southern darkness, the bigotry and fear which is the legacy of slavery, still remains. Witness the Republicans' use of a commercial that featured a comely blonde beckoning Harold Ford to "call me." It's the oldest trick in the book, playing on Southern whites' fear of miscegenation and the power of black men, to go along with one of their new tricks, accusing Ford of being soft on gay marriage and raising a cry that the institution of marriage must be "defended" from gay people.

Racism, homophobia--fears of race-mixing and gay marriage--the Republicans stir a witches' brew of hatred, fear and ignorance. In some parts of the country, like Massachusetts, their strategy is backfiring. In others, like in the great state of Tennessee, it appears to be working just fine.

Eventually, enough people will reject this tired thinking. In ten years or twenty, a black man will get elected to the Senate from a Southern state, and the miasma of racism will recede just a bit. Perhaps ten years beyond that, gay men and lesbians will be able to marry in all 50 states. It will happen. It just may not happen in my lifetime.


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