Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Two Videos I Like

I am truly naive. It has floored me how much ugly racism has crept out during this presidential election. I've seen video clips in the news or on YouTube of ignorant people saying, at best, misinformed, and, at worst, hateful things. Naive idealist that I am, I thought people were better than that and that we had come much further than perhaps we have. When I look at Barack Obama, I don't see the color of his skin; I just see a man I admire a lot whom I feel would make a great leader, especially in what I predict will be even more perilous times. Regardless of whether people like Obama or not, I hope it has to do more with his policies than his color. Here are two videos I've seen recently that hit on issues I agree with:

Donna Brazile speaks about race.

Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama.

If you don't have time to watch the entire Powell clip, this is the part I want to focus on in this post:

"I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, 'Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.'

"Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian.

"But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America.

"Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?

"Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

"I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards -- Purple Heart, Bronze Star -- showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old.

"And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross; it didn't have the Star of David; it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.

"Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions."


The Faithful Dissident said...

I found it interesting when that woman stood up at the McCain rally and said how she was afraid of Obama because she thought he was an Arab. McCain's response was along the lines of, "No, ma'am, he's a decent, hard-working family man."

Now, even though I support Obama, I don't think McCain is a bad guy and I don't think he'a a racist. I don't think he meant it that way, but his response was perhaps a bit of a Freudian slip. :) Because many people, whether they will admit it or not, are skeptical about Arabs. It's hard to shake the terrorist stereotype, and even I am guilty of this. I'm reminded about just how much every time I fly and see Arab-looking people on the flight. I hate to think such thoughts, but I do. I just make sure to try to fight them off instead of letting the prejudices win.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Oh, I couldn't agree with you more about Mccain. I, too, think John McCain is a decent man and, as Colin Powell said in the same interview, "John McCain is as non-discriminatory as anyone I know." I believe that, and I was actually quite proud of him in how he dealt with that misinformed woman at the rally. I felt I could see in his eyes a weariness that he wished he didn't even have to deal with those kinds of ignorant questions. I have been disappointed in the negativity present in the advertisements of his campaign, but I am also well aware that it is easy for a politician to get caught in the political machine that is his party and campaign. So I do not impugn John McCain at all. I actually like John McCain (although it's obvious that Barack Obama's policies, in general, are more in line with my way of thinking), and he seems to be as "decent" and "hard-working" as he indicated his opponent was. He strikes me as someone who really cares about America. Its isn't him I'm criticizing (and I apologize if my last post was unclear on that). It's some of the people I've seen in "on-the-street" interviews or at rallies. And I actually believe (or hope, at least) that they represent a minority of Americans, but I have heard people say ignorant and hateful things, and I am bothered by it. I will say that it doesn't help matters any when a campaign or the media does things to fuel the fire, though.

And, of course, everyone has prejudices. I don't deny that. I just have high ideals and hope we can all learn to look at what unites us rather than what divides us because I think, at heart, most people want the same things in life (although, admittedly, not all agree how to go about getting those things). There are good and bad people of all races and religions, but we can't generalize a group of people based on the actions of the few. Muslim extremists don't represent all facets of Islam any more than Mormon fundamentalists represent the LDS Church, vitriolic street preachers represent Baptists, militant blacks represent African-Americans, gang culture represents the Mexicans, and the far-out behaviors seen at a gay pride parade represent all homosexuals. Some people may see the minority or factions representing the whole group, and it's not the case. I'm just stressting the need to be educated about people and the willingness to look past prejudices to get to know one another as individuals rather than stereotypes.

I served a mission in France and Belgium and met many Muslims and people of Middle-Eastern descent. And, yeah, I met some people that fit the stereotype of American-hating, militant individuals, but I also met some people who were very kind and open, and although we seldom agreed on religious issues, and although, admittedly, that culture was one I was not accustomed to, I tried hard to find whatever middle ground I could and get to know people as individuals rather than be scared of an entire group of individuals based on the actions of the few.

I'm certainly not implying that it is easy to get past prejudices. I have my own, too. I'm just saying we have to strive to, and that I appreciated the point Colin Powell was making.

One thinks of the terrible tragedy that occurred when some Saudia Arabians flew into those buildings on that dark day in September, and one sees the terrible things that occur in the Middle East, and it's easy to put all "Arab-looking" people into that group. But I also remember the horrible Oklahoma City bombing was perpetrated by white Americans. It could be just as easy to do the same thing, but we don't because we can relate better and say, "Well, they only represent a small minority of Americans," or "Well, those people were just crazy," or whatever. I just think we need to get to know people better and understand their cultures and philosophies and ideals. That doesn't mean we have to agree with them or support them, but at least it is a step in removing the fear that comes with ignorance.

As a sidenote, I've started reading "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama. I am impressed at how well he speaks to my own sensibilities. I already participated in early voting and am not at all ashamed to say that I have cast my vote for him as President. I actually predict he will win, but that he will preside over a very tumultuous time (much as FDR and Lincoln did). I think (and of course, hope and pray) that he will win and will continue to be the kind of leader I believe he is. I will say that even if McCain wins, I still believe the country will be better off than it has been under the Bush administration (I just shudder at the thought of Sarah Palin ever being President).

The Faithful Dissident said...

My parent's neighbours back home are an eldery couple in their 80's. He's a crusty old airforce man from England and she makes him look like a softie. :) Actually, we've seen a good side to them and in a way, they're very good neighbours, but they're definitely racists. They always complain about all the immigrants in Canada -- even though he himself is one -- and they've made some pretty racist comments over the years. One time when they were complaining about immigrants, my mom said, "but I'm an immigrant," and their response was "oh yeah, but we KNOW you!" As well, they see my black sister-in-law come to visit and they love one of my brothers, who happens to be the darkest of all us kids, so it shows me that they only fear the unknown.

Anyways, they're really into politics. I was asking my mom yesterday whether they had said anything about the election. I wondered, since I know that they hated Bush. But would they want a black man to be president? My mom said that the wife made a remark a few days ago that "if Obama gets in, it'll be a dark day for America." Haha, some things never change. So much for optimism. :)

I am, however, more optimistic about our generation and the one coming after us. Hopefully by the time Obama is old and grey, kids will be learning at school about how some people were upset about a black man becoming president. And hopefully those kids will look at that the same way that we look at the days before women's suffrage or slavery being abolished. Like they will look back at history and say, "what the heck was wrong with people back then?" :)

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks for sharing the stories. My grandmother was a bit of a racist, too, although I didn't realize it when I was young. Now that she's passed, I have heard many stories about her that indicate that she had some antiquated ideas about race.

But as you indicate, I, too, am optimistic that our generation and the rising generation will have evolved from some of the antiquated notions of the past.

I guess it really comes down to what the following generation learns from the one before.

Merback Family said...

LOVED your clips! I read your post on Mormons for Marriage and I found it so very inspiring! I'm glad I came to your blog and found these clips! I can't wait to forward them to my family who subscribes to the "terrorist-evil-Obama" painted by so many Republicans, both LDS and not.

Gay LDS Actor said...


I'm glad you enjoyed the clips and will be sharing them. That's great. I'm also glad you enjoyed my post on Mormons for Marriage. That means a lot to me.