Response to my Comments on Rick Warren

December 24, 2008

To: shepard
Subject: Your comments on Rick Warren

Hello Shepard,
I’m a writer in Portland, Oregon, and a huge fan of your work (three of your pieces hang above my desk as I type). But I felt compelled to respond to your comments about Obama and Rick Warren. 1. Doesn’t Obama oppose gay marriage as well? (I don’t but I still voted for him) 2. Wasn’t that one of Bush’s moral failings: He wasn’t open minded enough to at least listen to people who disagreed with him. How do you expect to win the hearts and minds of conservatives, to cross the divide, to fulfill the promise of unity? Shutting them out like Bush shut out liberals? I understand why Obama did it. In some ways it troubles me. But the spirit of the act comforts me. This is change. This is Progress. Inviting Rick Warren to share in what is a celebration that is American, not liberal or conservative, is Hope.
Best to you and your family,
J. Doe

My response after the jump

Subject: Re: Your comments on Rick Warren

Mr. Doe,
Thanks for your note. I’m not saying that Obama should not engage Rick Warren and his followers. However, Obama is validating, and in a sense conceding to a man I don’t think is promoting unity. You are correct that Obama does not support gay marriage, but he opposed Prop 8, I believe on the grounds that it took away rights that had already been granted by the Supreme Court of CA. Obama wrote a wide-ranging letter to San Francisco’s Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club in which he said he opposed “the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California constitution” and similar moves in other states. My suspicion is that Obama supports gay marriage privately, but would have come across as too left of the mainstream for a lot of voter’s comfort. I agree with you in a lot of ways about Obama’s politics of inclusion, but it frustrates me that “inclusion” almost always means the liberals embracing the conservatives rather than the other way around. The semantic positioning of the Republican Party as the “family values” party is one of the most infuriating and ridiculous examples of manipulation I can think of. Decreasing funding for social programs, public schools, and opposing universal healthcare all seem like very anti-family values positions. I’m looking for Obama to be inclusive, but also to realign the definition of “values” with those of the people who elected him. Not teaching sex ed., as if teenagers will be less likely to have sex if they are not educated about contraception and STD’s, is not promoting “values”… it is irresponsible. Defining homosexuality as immoral does not represent “values” to me. I’m just saying, that it is about time that narrow-minded, intolerant views are the ones to fall outside of the mainstream and the only way to do that is to gently shift the focus rather than validate the politics of division. Just my opinion, but I’m ready to be proud of my country again.