Friday Night at 8: Perspectives

Obligatory YouTube — Coltrane doing “My Favorite Things” (coutesy of Astrotype):

I didn’t watch the entire Democratic Convention, but I watched enough to be very affected by many of the speeches, especially Michelle and Barack Obama’s words and presentation.  I was very impressed by both of them.

But then the production, the media production itself, disturbed me, from the music to the pageantry.  Seemed cheesy like the Academy Awards, which is so strange, because those awards are for some of the most talented directors and cinematographers and set designers and yet it always looks so cheesy on the teevee.

Anyway, here’s a different perspective on the Convention by one of the bloggers who attended, Kai, from Zuky, entitled Fear and Loathing in Denver.

Kai explains his stance on covering the Convention in a post he wrote the day before he flew to Denver:

Here are a few things that I will not be doing in Denver:

   * I’m not going to cheerlead for the Democratic Party. I’m sure the oratory will be stirring and the energy and emotion infectious; we’ll have to see if I get swept up in a political Hallmark moment, but I somehow doubt it. The Democratic Party has simply spent too many years killing the romance with corruption and backstabbing to rekindle the faith with a few bright roses and sweet promises. We’ve got some long-term work to do in order to make things okay.

   * I’m not going to pretend to be a reporter or pundit. I’m a progressive activist and agitator, an anti-racist anti-corporatist anti-imperialist Asian American writer, a universal human rights advocate, and a generally ornery observer of media, culture, and politics, who somehow happens to be attending the DNC. If I were forced to name a journalistic role model for this trip, I’d probably have to go with Hunter S. Thompson, though I hesitate to mention him because nobody, nobody, can live up to that legacy. …

There’s more, but I don’t want to rip off the whole post — though I’ll say it is worth reading.

Kai wrote several different anecdotes about the convention, and I’ll post one of them here (NOTE: “Nez” is Nezua from the unapologetic mexican, who hung out with kai and a bunch of other bloggers during the Convention):

On the bus, a working-class white mother with a pre-teen son announces her philosophical orientation this way: “What’s up with all these riot cops? Do they really need those huge clubs? My husband is a real police officer, he works undercover with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. He doesn’t have to act tough. He never talks about his work.”

Nez and I smile.

“So where are you guys from?” she asks.

“New York.”

“What do you think of Denver?”

“So far so good. Seems like a nice town.”

“It’s okay. I mean, there are ghettoish parts of town too. Where are you guys staying?”


“Oh see that’s a nice area. But if you go a little further down the road, it gets ghettoish. It’s all Mexicans and Asians.”

Nezua and I look at one another.

“Oh,” she stammers, “that sounds horrible! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. I just mean, like, there was a gang fight and a shooting just the other day.”

“I understand,” I offer.

A moment later: “So, are you guys Obama supporters?”

“Not really supporters,” Nez says, “we’re just documenting things.”

“We were at the convention today,” she says with a sudden surge of pride; then, patting her son on the head, “He met a Congressman who was at the I Have A Dream speech during the civil rights movement.”

“Nice,” I say, turning to the boy, “did you like meeting him?”

“Yes,” he beams. His eyes are bright and clear and they don’t waver at all as he meets my gaze. I like the kid.

Suddenly from the back row of the bus: “If Obama wins, he won’t make it to next year.” It’s a twenty-something white dude wearing a basketball jersey, a big chain around his neck, oversized shorts, high-top sneakers, and a baseball cap tipped to one side.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“If Obama wins the election, he won’t even make it to his first term. People are gonna be pissed.”

“So you think somebody’s gonna kill him?”

“Yeah man.”

“You’re that sure about it? What’s the spread on that? Are you willing to lay down money on that bet?”

I see his eyes faltering, glancing around.

“You willing to put money on what you said?” I ask again.

“Yeah,” he firms up. “I mean, I’m not saying I want anything to happen. But there are a lot of people out there who are gonna go crazy if Obama wins. It’s gonna be war in the streets.”

“It’s already war in the streets,” I say, “and it’s not because of Obama.”

He thinks it over for a minute, then changes the subject. “You guys like hip hop?”


“I was at a show last week. They flew in Tali Kwalib and Mos Def from Switzerland.”


Another pause. Then: “If Obama wins, I just hope that black people don’t start thinking they’re superior.”

I am going to be patient with myself because it’s only been a day since the Convention ended.  At this point there are so many impressions swirling around in my brain both from watching the Convention on C-SPAN and reading so many different bloggers both here at Docudharma, at Daily Kos and in the diversosphere, so many different perspectives, that a big stew of it all is bubbling on the back burner of my brain.

We’re called to unity in America and it’s a compelling call indeed.  But all across this country there are also activists whose goals transcend party politics and they will put that advocacy before everything.  That’s what an advocate is.

One of my favorite bloggers is kyle from Citizen Orange.

Kyle has gotten a lot of flack when he posts his advocacy pieces over at Daily Kos, but that doesn’t stop him from persevering.  One of my favorite interchanges of his was in a diary he wrote before the Convention, Minutemen Outside Obama Rally: F@S! La Raza.

A commenter tries to get him to endorse the usual simplistic reasoning:

If you can’t tell the difference (between McCain and Obama)

why should people think you know anything about the issue? By now we all know that the Democrats and Obama are much more progressive than the wingnut right that controls McCain. Who do you think was cussing you guys, Obama supporters or John (build the fence)McCain?  Wake up, if you’re going to serve the issue you work on night and day.

Kyle responds:

The Minutemen

will be picketing McCain tomorrow too.  It’s surprising how anti-democratic these comments are.  I haven’t yet decided who I’m going to vote for, is that a crime?

I admitted Obama is more pro-migrant than most anyone else, I’m just reserving my full endorsement until I get more facts.  That’s the way our democracy should work.

If you are against that, then it is you, not me, that is being illogical.

The commenter will not relent:

What I am saying

is what is taking you, an advocate, so long? If it’s about pressuring Democrats and Obama I understand but, if it’s because you can’t tell the difference you’re in bad shape. The die was cast on this issue years ago and there is no way the GOP is going to change from the anti-immigrant party to your side. Those days are long gone and they’ve told the rest of the known world. All you have to do is read.

And Kyle will not relent either!

Don’t Talk To Me About What I Should Do

as an advocate.  I find this line of questioning insulting.  I almost lost my life retracing the route of a Guatemala migrant into the United States.

Don’t come here pretending to know better than I do, or trying to tell me what to do, when it comes to migrant rights.  

I’ve been blogging this issue for years now, and I would appreciate some respect.

I hope this illustrates a little of what I’m trying to say about differerent perspectives as well as the different commitments an advocate makes in relation to the commitments politicians and political party activists make.

I’m not saying either is superior to the other.  I’m just pondering how to build better bridges between these two different forces.

Anyway, these are my brief impressions of the past intensely political few days.

For now … THREE DAY WEEKEND for me!  Yay!

I am so easily pleased.  Heh.


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  1. Let a thousand blossoms bloom!

    Or several, at least!

    • Robyn on August 30, 2008 at 3:06 am

    I watched a few speeches.  Debbie did want to watch Hillary and Bill and Obama’s speech did make her feel less pissed off.  But we were both disappointed about some of the stuff that could have been said and wasn’t, what was placed in the category of “reasonable people disagree,” and the amount of god-reference and nationalism.

  2. I was avoiding studying for my re-certification on my ACLS.

    When I went home at the end of July my 87 year old grandmother asked me if I was paying attention to the campaign and who I thought would win. Canadians are interested. Wonder why? Could be that whole sharing a continent thing. Anyway, she isn’t very liberal or progressive. Most of my family is not. She told me flat out she was worried “they were going to kill Obama.”

    I asked her who she thought “they” were and she did a Canadianism and said well Americans are always shooting one another over things. Which. Well. That part is true Americans are always shooting one another over things.

    I am not going to tear the man down but I haven’t caught the fever. I am worried Americans will prove themselves just not ready. They voted for Reagan twice and current man twice.

    • kj on August 30, 2008 at 3:50 am

    i have stayed away from this entire campaign process.

    i understand that i have zero tolerance for anyone who would pull the lever for McCain.

    * don’t cast a vote?  none of my business.

    * stay a detached advocate? we all have our passions.

    * vote for John McCain?  sorry, you’re not a family member and i have enough of those who are 20 percenters, so, uh, don’t come close to me with that McCain hat.  i’m still sore from 2000.

    and… that is all, folks.  😉

    • kj on August 30, 2008 at 4:08 am

    chose once again to 86 a trip to “the lake” where i could have spent three gorgeous (weather-wise) days… because the majority of the people there (everyone but jbk and me) are still strong Bush and now strong as in ‘already have their signs’ McCain people.

    it would have been ugly.  just woulda been.

    • kj on August 30, 2008 at 4:17 am

    i was getting around to posting something that actually, directly, spoke to this essay but am finding it more difficult than it is worth.

    all just is what it is.  some are more patient than others, i think, in the long run.  more patient and careful and thoughtful and some, like me, although i have those above traits, tend to work a little closer to our gut than is probably wise.  

    in other words, kyle’s indecision above would frustrate me if i knew him well.

  3. since I cannot vote and I live in a red state is to spend time trying to convince conservatives not to vote. McCain is not generating enthusiasm just a “he is our guy” sigh attitude in out there. So I am trying to capitalize.

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