Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rev. Joseph Lowery: Magically Old School

I just came off the inauguration, and I loved it. Barack Obama is hawkish like he needs to be, enigmatic and stern despite the fact that everyone on earth thinks mistakenly that he's their boyfriend/friend. I loved the performances (hello, clarinet? Who knew you were an instrument of angels), the poetry, Aretha's beautiful hat, the fittingly dark and somber ghost-written presidential address, all the God references (hey, I'm religious--I'm not so sure the atheists out there were as comfortable with it as I was).

But the stand-out as far as I'm concerned was the Rev Joseph Lowery. He packed a wallop with his growly octogenarian voice and religious fervor. He also delivered the finest words of the day:

"I'm equally certain that we will continue to pray for justice to roll down as waters, and for that day when there will be peace in the valley, and for that day when every man and every woman will sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none will be afraid, and for that day when black will not be asked to get back, brown can stick around, yellow will be mellow, the red man can get ahead, man, and white will embrace what is right! Amen!"

In that moment, like it or not, formality went out of style, people had the sticks forcibly pulled from their butts, and even our frowny president just had to grin. Thank you Rev Lowery for cracking wise with such dignity.

My cynicism is intact, though, rest assured. I still wish that darned Obama had used his own words (see post below). Sigh. Maybe someday.

UPDATED: I'm already seeing the critiques of Lowery's rhyme round and about the interwebs--seems the stick is still wedged up there, at least in some cases. Why does everything have to be so careful? so precious? I guess this is exactly why Obama needs a speechwriter who reworks every utterance to death before it can be trotted out in public.

And on another note, Hedgie watched the inauguration at school, with great interest. I blew her mind out when I told her that Obama's speech wasn't his own. She said she was shocked--she thought that not only were those his words, but that he was speaking right off the cuff. I guess it's a testament to his terrific speaking ability. God I felt like I was telling her the tooth fairy didn't exist. She also told me that it was "hard to have a mama who doesn't always agree with everyone else about politics." (everyone else being the far left leaning liberals in our incredibly rarified neck of the woods). I told her "I'm a free thinker, Hedgehog, and it's good for you to grow up in a free-thinking household. You need to learn how to think for yourself and not always go along blindly with the herd." She said, "you're right, mama, but it's hard." I said "You bet it's hard, but it's the most important thing you'll ever have to learn."

This came on the heels of a conversation we had this morning when she said "all war is bad." I said, "what about when we had to fight the Nazis in WWII so that we could stop them from killing all the Jews?" She said, "Okay, maybe not that war, but all other wars. Like Iraq." I said, "why is Iraq a bad war?" She said, "I admit, I don't know that much about it." I reminded her that she could certainly have opinions, but that those opinions needed to be informed. I know that the parents of her friends, well by and large, offer their strong opinions to their children, but never really explain their reasoning. It's like they think the kids are old enough to take on their politics, but too young to really be offered facts and explanations. Drives me insane in the membrane.


Queen Goob said...

One day.....I agree.

I didn't get to hear the words of the Reverand as I was at Sonny's BBQ having lunch and the sound was muted on the televisions. Can someone please request that the SDH typer take their time and maybe watch what they're typing?

Suzanne said...

Well I wrote down below...under Queenie's satin ass (and here I am again under Queenie's satin ass!) and agree that he should write his own speeches. I only heard portions as I was rushing around to get to the park on time and hoped to turn on NPR when I got in the car only to realize when I left on the headlights yesterday and the battery died and AAA had to stop by to say "HEY!" I lost all my preprogrammed stations and couldn't remember where the hell NPR is. Damn. So I missed the rest of his speech writer's speech. Damn. But I'm confident the whole thing is going to be shown again in the wee hours of morn. Am I correct my dear friend?! Good. Maybe I'll get to watch it.

I didn't see the Reverand, but hope to. With all due respect, he sounds like a hoot! I did see Arethra and was so grateful she wasn't wearing real fur as usual, so I paused to listen and watch. I do love her, just not the dead animal she usually has draped around her body. She was lovely and the hat's a keeper!!! I bet her closet's really interesting.

I'll tell you what I loved most. The swearing in. I'm so very proud he's President and to watch him take the oath mattered to me. I had tears in my eyes. It was a remarkable moment.

Love you darling and hope you're having a great day. Also glad you're working so hard on the "Big D!"

;) XO

muralimanohar said...

5am dude. I stayed up til 5am to watch that. And I'd do it again.

What was I saying? Oh, yeah...those words are taken from a civil rights era anthem. And at least one of my friends/acquaintances is objecting to the racism and inappropriateness of them. Let the wars begin.

Leah said...

Hi Murali--I knew that particular quote was from some period piece or other--obviously it's anything but politically correct, which was why I loved it so much. It was pretty ballsy and none too delicate, which I also love. I'm not surprised to hear that people are objecting. But if the "yellow people" and the "black and brown people" that I know loved it as much as I did, which they did, haven't heard the "red folks" weigh in yet, then I think it's grand. I think that if we can't get down off the pedestal once in awhile what's to become of us? It's interesting, isn't it?

muralimanohar said...

Totally agree with you. It's phenomenal that a man who fought so hard during the Civil Rights era was there on the stand, helping inaugurate a black man into the Oval Office. Phenomenal. And I believe a man like him has earned the right to say it like he feels. PC or not.

Which, btw, is one of my pet peeves, going over the top with political correctness. I refuse to do it. I won't deliberately be using language to hurt others, but I refuse to include terms like "vertically challenged", etc, in my vocab.

(Not-So) Cynical Gal said...

I was so "lucky" to be at home with a nasty cold today...I got to watch everything! I love this post!

I spent the rest of the day writing up my Go Steelers! Lace Scarf pattern. I'm a crazy girl. I know it.

Karen ^..^ said...

I love that you wrote this in such a wonderfully open minded manner. As for the speech?

I enjoyed the speech very much. It gave me goosebumps. I do not feel Obama should have written the whole speech, that is why they employ speech writers, and now that young 27 year old man is a part of history as well. Much the same as Francis Scott Key. Jon Favreau has been Obama's speech writer since he was 23 years old, right out of college. he is a brilliant writer, very gifted, and transitioned his writing into Obama's voice, so effortlessly that it amazes me. Jon Favreau is amazing, and he and Obama collaborate on the speeches so much so that it is nearly one and the same voice. Obama also rewrites large portions of the speeches, it is always a team effort.

I enjoyed watching history unfold very much. I watch all the inaugurations, whether I am happy with the president or not. History is history, and I love being a part of it, or at least watching it. Your post was beautifully written, and fair and impartial. Well done, sweetie.

Alan Rickman said...

I'm enigmatic.

And I can be stern with you Leah, if that's the way you want it.

Megan said...

I'm about to get to that part on the replay...

Leah said...

Just who is this Alan Rickman character? I really can't figure it out. Now I'm going to become obsessed with an anonymous commenter in addition to Alan Rickman and Severus. As if I didn't have enough obsessions!!!!!

Well, Alan, please do be stern with me, LOL.

Cece said...

You are certainly the obsessive woman, you are. The boys watched the inauguration yesterday too. they also came home with a little Scholastic's reader that showed pictures of Obama as he grew up and told a wee bit about his life. It really is exciting to see our country reach this new pinnacle in it's history. To have a president that is so verbally superior as opposed to the verbally challenged one we just booted out is certainly refreshing. I have such high hopes for this presidency. Although, I must confess, I was not as impressed with the Reverends speech. You see, I am aware the white people are racist, (sadly, most of my family is,) but it isn't just the Whites. The Blacks, and the Browns, and even the Reds and Yellow all have some predjudice. So, I did feel a tad bit offended by the comment. But on the second hand, we do have the 1st ammendment. The freedom of speech, and it is nice to see the Reverend excersise it even when he knew it would come under much criticisim. Oh, and openmindedness is great and you are a wonderful mother in trying to teach Hedgie, to be a free thinker.

Suzanne said...

I forgot to say the "hoot you'd like to boot!!!" I listened. Ugh. Wow. Hummmmmmmmmmmmmm.............

I love Cece's comment. I agree with a "tad offended." Yikes. What the hell's wrong with people? How hard is it to be thoughtful, especially if you're educated and should know better? Yikes.

I also agree with Cece. Hedgie's the best. You gave birth to and raised a remarkable daughter. You should be very proud young lady!!!

Love you sweetie,

Leah said...

Rev Lowery's speech has become a hot topic of convo around our house. Sarge actually felt that it was offensive and "inappropriate" (his words), and that if statements were reversed, no one would stand for it, not for one moment (double standard), but that Lowery also had earned the right to say whatever he wanted--at 87, a veteran of the Civil Rights movement at its hardest core, Sarge says he won't take umbrage at the words.

I, on the other hand, recognized that they were slightly, maybe, inappropriate, but that is part of what I liked about it--finally, something on the political stage that wasn't faky and over-synthesized, prettied up.

So there you have it, me and Sarge not exactly disagreeing, but with two different takes on it.

muralimanohar said...

Well, I'm plopping myself firmly in Sarge's camp on this one. They WERE a complete double standard, and racist. Not saying there is no truth there, but it was still a fairly racist thing to say, esp at a time, in particular, when we are trying to draw emphasis on equality and fairness.

But I also agree, at his age, with the life he has lived, and the fights he has fought, he has well and truly earned the right to speak them.

muralimanohar said...

Oh..read the update. I have absolutely no problem explaining my children, at any age, my reasons for opposing or supporting a candidate. I do, of course, make allowances for age-appropriateness, but they will still have a clear idea of my views. And luckily for me, my views are usually firmly colored by my values, which I am raising them with, and consequently, they agree with me. Whew. Nothing like having a political debate from the opposite sides of the table with your own four year old. :p

Leah said...

Murali--arguing politics with one's preschooler, LOL!!! You're right, though, and it's true in our house as well--when one's politics are supported by one's true belief system, and one's deeply held values, then it sort of flows to you children naturally.

But still, it's funny, I think Hedgie is better informed than a lot of her peers at her school.

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God. I felt the exact same way! I loved what he said and how he said it but I could also sense the sticks up people's asses making them uncomfortable.

HEY! How did you get Alan Rickman to read your blog? I wonder if I could get Jon Stewart to read mine? He is my new love...lust...yummm.

Leah said...

Hi RC!

I wish Alan Rickman was actually reading my blog...oh wait, maybe I don't!