Elizabeth Hasselbeck, the darling of the wingers, tips her elegant nose up just a hair and pronounces "we are
who we associate with." Sarah Palin asserts that Barack Obama's association
with '60s radical William Ayers somehow taints Obama in 2008. A real estate developer now in trouble with the law is evidence, by virtue of association
, that Obama is not what he seems. Rashid Khalidi, a New York born professor and a Palestinian activist, is framed as a terrorist and contact with him is evidence of Obama's lack of fitness for the office he seeks.
Seriously? Are these people fucking serious? I am a 51 year old white woman living smack in the middle of the buckle that holds fast the Bible belt's grip on this country. I am smart, educated, fiscally sound. I own my own business, I have stepchildren and grandchildren. I am respectable, honest, reliable, decent. I help others at every opportunity. I care about my community and my neighbors. Despite my rage over the winger occupation of my country, I am patriotic as all hell and my anger ~ despite my expressions of frustration ~ will not find expression in violence or destruction of property.
In my 51 years, I have associated with child molesters and rapists. I have worked closely with ~ and loved ~ gangsters of all kinds. I have loved and buried two precious young men who were Crips and one who was a Blood. Most of my dearest friends are recovering alcoholics; some aren't recovering and I love them still. I hang out with drug addicts who don't use anymore, with ex-cons who've gone straight. I know people and have employed men who are now in jail on murder charges. My youth was spent in the company of ecoterrorists and activists of every stripe. I used to work for ACORN.
My family is thick with Republicans, God help me, but populated, too, with Democrats. Among my kin are radical farmers who drove their tractors to Washington to protest farm policy. Two of my relatives are the most despicable kind of neo-nazi anti-semitic haters. My cousin won American Leatherboy 2005 and another cousin was Miss Kansas. Every morning that I work, I hug the barber next door to my shop, a Korean war veteran and a raging right winger.
One of my dearest friends is a drag queen and he's gorgeous. I hang out with gays and lesbians and radical feminists and churchgoing folk. I have photos of my younger self taken with a group of young men who lived in my building, guys who cooked for me the most divine and exotic feasts every weekend. I didn't know at the time they were PLO; I don't know that it would have changed how I felt about them. They were ~ they are ~ dear to me after all these years.
One of my most precious friends is a poorly controlled schizophrenic. My beloved Pam still struggles to overcome the narcotics addiction that sent her to prison three times. My husband used to be a hippie. One friend from high school became a witch; another a prostitute. The guy I ate lunch with every day is a judge in Dallas. Another old friend is a CNN reporter.
Are we really
the company we keep? Or is the company we keep evidence of our humanity, of our ability to look at what matters in other human beings? I wouldn't give up a single moment of my life or the people in it, good or bad. I know people who live lives tightly constrained by their views of other human beings and I know they're missing out. No question.
I am more frightened by leaders who surround themselves with people just like them than I am by the prospect of a leader who has vast, wide-ranging associations
. A healthy interest in others, in other ways of living, in different beliefs and attitudes and behaviors is evidence to me of a sparkling and solid intellect and is something to emulate, not condemn.
It is evidence of a willingness to look beyond the superficial into the soul, the heart, for the thing that connects us all. I am connected, by my humanity, to the gangster, the rapist, to the schizophrenic, the drug addict, the church lady. I am connected to the terrorist, to the professor, the right winger and, of course, to the lefties who speak my language. The hardest thing for me is to let go of my anger over what has happened, to be open to what might happen in the future. In that, I have an example in our next president. Kindness, generosity of spirit, a spiritual view of other human beings. It's a happier way to live, and more hopeful. I'm trying. You?
Labels: associations, barack obama, rashid khalidi, terrorists, william ayers