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Please begin with an informative title:

President Obama’s Inaugural Address was an unapologetic, unequivocal progressive manifesto of domestic policies.

I needed that.

So begins today's New York Times column by Charles M. Blow, whose title I have borrowed for this post.

He offers selection from the President's words, but what catches my attention and provokes my thinking are some of his own words, such as those with which I began.

You can of course simply read the column.  If you do I will be more than satisfied.

I will below offer some more of Blow's words which caught my attention as well as my reaction thereto.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Blow notes Obama's growing acceptance of what many, especially on the left, have noted regularly since before his election - his very presence, his existence, his achievement is what far too many others find objectionable.Immediately after those words comes one key paragraph on which I would like to focus:

He is the embodiment of their discomfort. He is the manifestation of their fear. He represents a current and future America — more socially liberal, more ethnically diverse, more the offspring of unconventional families — than they can accept.
Here I find myself thinking of the students I taught for 13 years at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt MD before I retired (and of course then unretired and entered another classroom).  We had every skin hue imaginable in our halls and in my classroom.   Perhaps 1/4 of the students in my AP classes were born abroad, and perhaps 1/2 had at least one parent so born.    Some had two mothers.

But it was not just their parentage.  It was their personal relationships.  On direct pairings racial and religious divisions were of diminishing importance.  Their friendship groups were so expansive that it became difficult for some of them to reconcile what they were taught in church or other religious bodies and the people they knew and about whom they cared.  I still remember the striking words of the daughter of a prominent black pastor more than a decade ago who when the issue of same sex marriage came up in class discussion said she did not know what the big deal was, weren't her gay friends equally entitled to the pursuit of happiness?

OF course we heard words from the President that similarly include gay Americans in the broader American dream.  Yet this is a man who four years ago could support civil unions but had trouble with the word "Marriage" for same sex couples.  

Perhaps it is some of his staffers.  Perhaps it is his wife's generous heart.  Perhaps it is some of those he has encountered politically. But might it not also be his children, who attend a school (Sidwell Friends) whose Quaker orientation is inclusive and affirming of all people?  I wonder. . .

I could go through many points Blow raises, but that would make this posting far too long, and have far too many of my words.  But I want to continue on this theme.

Blow quotes the President's words our gay brothers and sisters being treated equally under the law, including the words " for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

Blow then offers this:  

The most striking phrase in that passage, aside from the fact that it was included in an Inaugural Address at all, is “the love we commit.” In a time when so many conservatives talk ad nauseam about the differentiation between rights granted by God and those authored by governments, this phrase, the commission of love, the root of many religions, reframes gay rights as God-given rights like other human rights and therefore beyond the right of governments to restrict.
As liberals / progressives, we have a commitment to an expansive reading of the Bill of Rights.  As liberals / progressives we should be seeking to be inclusive.

I am a child of the 60s.

I grew up first watching on tv then participating myself in the Civil Rights movement.  There are some here whose commitment dwarfs my own - Meteor Blades, for example, who went to Mississippi in 1964 when my father threatened to cut off my college if I accepted an invitation to go.  Still, while some in that movement were dismissive of those whose commitment was less than theirs, for the most part the participants welcomed those willing to move in their direction, to leave the seeming comfort and take the first steps, knowing that once one begins moving it is easier to encourage her to keep moving.

As a child of the 60s, a fragment of a song by Bob Dylan begins to ring in my mind.

Our nation is changing.  Many of our young people, like those of my generation when we were their ages, no longer seem bound by the patterns of behavior we have assumed for so long.  There are two stanzas I think appropriate, one directed to our politicians, the other to those who are parents.  They are these:

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The times may change in ways we had not considered.

Like the struggles of the 60s, the outcome is not yet assured.

Like the times in which I grew towards adulthood, there are serious forces that oppose such changes, people and institutions whose power, prestige and privilege are threatened and who still stand in opposition.

In the 1960s this country came close to coming apart. But it was not just here.  Go look at the events around the world in 1968 if you did not live through it.

In some ways our nation, and the world, face similar challenges in our own time.

The outcome remains uncertain.

Perhaps it is because I have been a teacher that I do not lose hope.

Perhaps that is why these words of Dylan are to me key:

Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command

Blow concludes his column as follows:

“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”

This was a great moment in progressive politics.

Unapologetic, defiant even, and true to the core values of our country.

Core values to which we have aspired, and attempted, with fits and starts, to live up to, even as we as a society remain an incomplete work.

Much of the progress of the 1960s was because the children led, whether it was young students from NC A&T at a lunch counter at Woolworth's in Greensboro, the young people of Birmingham, or the college students who went to Mississippi and who protested Vietnam.

It is again today our young people who if we let them can provide us with a new vision, help us understand the new possibilities.

I read Blow's column - and I strongly urge you to do so as well.

I had some reactions which I have now shared.

I am about to leave for school, on icy roads.  

I hope this is of use to some of you.

I look forward to reading your responses when I can.


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