Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thoughts on the Belt and Obama

So we had our first winter commencement here at the U a few days ago, on a wet and chilly December night.  All the faculty were penned together in our respective college clumps in one area of the arena, while the graduating seniors were herded into another area.  We had been told to arrive at 6.15, and many of us even did, though we fucking well knew nothing would begin for another 45 minutes: we had done this before, after all.  They tell us 6.15 knowing none of us will show up until 6.30 and some of us won't appear until 6.45 and then it will take at least ten minutes to herd us into lines, and someone will have to pee at the last moment, and another one will have forgotten her know academics, it's like herding cats.

Anyway, I was not two weeks off the operating table, and not well able to stand for 45 minutes (yes, I showed up on time, because I am OCD that way) but I secured one of the few available folding chairs and did not relinquish it; also I had the foresight to put two Vicodin inside me beforehand.  I wasn't suffering very much.  The College of Languages and Communications milled about me, and also the Colleges of Languages and Humanities.  We discussed how one should wear one's hood (who knows?  I put mine on and wait for someone who knows to wander past and fix it for me), which side the tassel goes on (this I do know: the left, because we're all Leftists); what various folk were going to do with the Break; who all had managed to get their grades on before Records started calling them with dogging phone calls and who had not; and, of course, politics.  Specifically, what we thought of this Rick Warren move.

Sigh: this is what we think of it.

You know, I understand those who say Obama is making the usual Obama move: big tent and all that.  I even understand those who say it's more devious than that, how he's playing a crafty political game, splitting the Religious Right's base from under them (I understand this, I just don't believe it for a second).  One, the tent can be widened with some other fella, frankly.  Not that guy.  Second, pull the other.

It's hard to see how this could be okay.

Then our Chancellor, who we are liking very much, most of us, had chosen as our speaker an African-American fella, a local insurance mogul, who had attended our university back in the day.  He was a good speaker, short, funny, to the point; but one of the things he said pointed at Obama -- look, he said, here's what this country of ours has done: elected Obama, and done what it promised, all those years ago, it said it would do: become a country where people are equal.

Well!  It is true that nearly half of Arkansas voted for Obama, but not half of Fort Smith did.  Laws no.  The stadium was icy silent, though they had liked his speech so far, as it had spoken of church, and prayer, and free enterprise, all that stuff they, as good Christian pirate Americans, hold so dear.  But if he was going to expect them to champion the cause of equality -- of black folk being equal to them -- well, really!  Might as well expect them to women being equal, or gay people having rights, or silliness like that.

They loosened up later, when he spoke of how he had gone up to finish his degree at the University of Arkansas (back in the day, our university was a two year college) and back then, as he pointed out, the U of A didn't let black folk room with white folk -- yes, yes, they nodded: weren't they enlightened ones, to have allowed segregation, not like them wicked people back in the sixties!  They'd never be like that, not them.

Just don't expect them to vote for one.  That's all.  Or no girls or atheists either.

Sometimes I need a really long nap.


1 comment:

zelda1 said...

I wish that I'd been there cause I'd given the man a standing Ovation. Oh yeah baby.