73 thoughts on “Someone With More Grace Than I Have

  1. Some people are just so awful. I commend this minister, however. He does have more grace than I do.

    Between the presidential election, and proposition 8 here in California that will deny same sex marriage, I have this horrible fear that bigotry will win the day. (I am not implying all or even most McCain supporters are bigots, btw.)

    I really hope I’m wrong. I am really sick of all the bigoted crap. If that is the “real America” then you can have it.

    But as much as I may want to flee to France after the election, I feel like its my duty as a REAL American to stay and fight the good fight, until we get rid of this hateful mindset once and for all.

  2. {sigh} And I grew up in Chesterfield County. The representative there, where my parents still live, is Eric Cantor. He’s just slightly to the left of Attila the Hun.

  3. I think very little of Obama but at the same time I despair when I hear about things like this.

    What kind of idiot do you have to be to think that ripping the man’s sign down is reasonable behavior or a statement with any meaning besides that you are a dumbass?

    And, of course, you have stuff like this too: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/11/AR2008101101465.html?nav=hcmodule

    My country is apparently filled with idiots. I fear for the Republic.

  4. Anyone read the comments on that article? Some pretty crazy people are in there. I would have set up one of those claw traps if that had happened to me, so I have to commend this guy.

  5. I’m a little too young to say this with any certainty, but it seems to me like this campaign surely breaks some records for sheer ugliness. I mean – tires slashed? People heckled at the polls? Words like ‘terrorist’ and ‘traitor’ thrown around so cheaply? I know that emotions are running high this year and for good reason, but – this is the America we’re fighting for?

    Older folks? Historians? Help me out. Were the good old days really better than this?

  6. And in one area, brake lines cut if you put out an Obama sign.

    I admit that hearing about this would keep me from putting out a sign, saying anything, or showing any visible support. I’d like not to die if my car rolls down a hill with no brakes.

    It’s the kind of thing that makes you move away.

  7. Are these behaviors mainly by the anti-Obama side? It is very, very sad, and it scares me… It is confronting to hear people condemn such stupidity though. Thank you guys!

  8. Skar @5: It’s not even just the tearing down of the sign. That’s just childish and rude. Replacing it with a confederate flag though, is incendiary and offensive.

    Also, if you read the comments on the actual article, it’s really scary. One person commented that “many black people just want to get another black man elected president so they can complete the genocide of [the southern confederate, white] people” EEP?

  9. Being as that starzinBars doesn’t represent a country, I’m afraid that the lighter fluid spilled on it would have reacted badly with the lit match.

    Too bad, huh.

  10. @7 & @11: yeah, to me, that comment was the absolute craziest. Someone apparently needs to have “genocide” defined for them.

    Comment threads like that make me want to buy moderators like Scalzi and TNH nice, frothy beverages.

  11. Wow. It’s the Minister’s reaction that’s the most striking. I was filled with rage just reading this article. I cannot imagine how I would have reacted if it had happened to me or one of my friends/family. I hope at some point I’ll be the type of person capable of responding with even half as much poise and grace.

  12. You know, I could be wrong here, but I’m not seeing this level of bigotry, hatred, and crime in regards to the Obama supporters. They are not making ads like the ones with Obama next to a hanging rope or Obama on a dollar bill with chicken and watermelon and all that really bigotted stuff. I have seen a lot of criticism of Palin, but nothing that implies or directly threatens to kill her.

    It is scary. And I don’t like how people say “passionate people on both sides are doing this.” Because, unless I missed something, Obama supporters have not even gotten close to this level of hatred and criminal activity as McCain supporters.

    I do understand that not all McCain supporters are doing these things and many are speaking out about how they disapprove, but MY GOD this campaign has released some of the creepy crawlies from the woodwork. I knew there were bigotted people out there, but I didn’t perhaps realize that there were THIS many bigotted people with THIS much pure hatred.

  13. I’m a little embarassed by the minister’s reaction. It is much more productive and mature than my own reaction, which is to consider disabusing these people of the notion that liberals don’t own guns and won’t use them.

  14. Bigots will always be with us. The best we can hope for is that overt bigotry becomes no longer socially or politically acceptable.

    That means no dog-whistling, no coddling or pandering to people who still fly the Confederate flag (which in turn means not accepting the idiocy that the flag stands for “Southern Culture” – what Southern Culture does the Confederate flag represent, anyway?), not accepting that certain forms of bigotry are ‘unfortunate but understandable’ (they’re not), and not patronizing businesses that use bigotry as a marketing technique (e.g., gun sellers at gun shows).

    Make racism unfashionable, politically unviable, and damned expensive.

  15. After 8 years of fostering this on the right (Ann Coulter calling liberals traitors, many neo-cons including our VP questioning the patriotism of those who disagreed with the Bush administration on Iraq) why is anyone surprised that you have wacko bigots emerging from the right? You’ve encouraged them for most of a decade.

    The minister? Someone we should all strive to emulate…. and the kind of person I like to point to when people run down religion. Religion has its issues… but it can also inspire that kind of behavior. Kudos to him… I could not be that patient.

  16. Grace indeed. The thing nobody has come out and said is that the confederate flag is almost indistinguishable from a burning cross.
    Political sign theft or vandalism is just a sad part of elections. Like Thisisendless, I live in CA and the local news has been covering sign theft issues with prop 8. I was thinking that this was hardly news, even with the hiden camera videos of various people stealing the signs. I decided that the only time sign theft should be in the news is when they catch the politician doing it. This is another instance where it is news even if it is just background for the real story which is that bigotry is alive and well and that it’s hard to effectively terrorize certain people.

  17. thisisendless@1

    “Between the presidential election, and proposition 8 here in California that will deny same sex marriage, I have this horrible fear that bigotry will win the day. (I am not implying all or even most McCain supporters are bigots, btw.)”

    I’m a Republican and this story made me angry too.

    I won’t defend the current Republican leadership. One bright spot, though, is that there is a real movement in the GOP right now among the libertarian wing to take back the party from the religious right and the neocons. The Ron Paul movement has many of us energized..I am hopeful for the future.

    Many of us are Republicans because we favor small government and a non-interventionist foreign policy. (You don’t need to remind me that Bush has gone in the opposite direction on both counts.) We don’t want anything to do with the Religious Right, the bigots, or the neoconservatives.

    And the GOP’s libertarians are rebelling. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Obama, but I did vote for Bob Barr…to send a message to the GOP leadership that a change in direction is needed.

    And BTW: Many of us (myself included) think that the GOP’s demonization of gays is counterproductive and anti-individual rights.

  18. Yep, more grace than me.

    Scorpio 13: my thoughts exactly. In fact, I’m tempted to start burning the Stars and Bars in public on a regular basis.

    In New Jersey, I might not even get shot. It does occur to me that it would be a more useful thing to do in Alabama, though.

  19. Patrick@24:

    That is one nice house! And the palm trees are a nice touch, especially as November weather comes to Ohio.

    Xopher@25, CaseyL@19, etc:

    Wow, for once I actually get to side with the majority here. Although there are good people in the South, I agree that the Confederate flag stands for oppression and therefore has no place in American life (outside of museums and history books, of course).

    There is also the not-so-minor technicality that the Confederacy lost the war and was dismantled. Strictly speaking, the Confederate flag represents treason against the United States—in addition to racism.

    But this does remind me of our conversation from the other day. I suppose that I see “the religion of peace” as a lot like the Confederacy. Good people are attached to it, certainly; but it is fundamentally about oppression (especially of women). And oppressive doctrines are incompatible with American life and values.

    I realize that you disagree with me, but this is where I was coming from. (I also realize that I failed to persuade the majority here.)

    I think we will have to agree to disagree about the subject of yesterday’s debate. Perhaps we can continue that discussion in another thread, on another day. I’m glad we can agree about the Confederate flag, though.

  20. Mythago: I suspect he has guns. Given the area, the size of his place, his age and his having been in the Army.

    He might not, as a preacher, but there’s lots of Christianity which allows one to have guns.

    Edward Trimnell: I don’t think the religion is about opressing people (not even women, though some of the deutero-pauline letters lend themselves to it).

    Practice has allowed (and somewhat enshrined) such things, but I don’t think them essential to it, hell I don’t even think them intrinsic.

  21. Mr. McLaughlin makes me ashamed that I would not be able to react with his dignity and forgiveness. I hope that someday I will make it to that place in my soul.

  22. Highly distasteful and just wrong, everyone has a right to express their political views no matter how much you might disagree with them. On top of stripping him of that right adding racist overtones is beyond the pale. If someone did that to my sign I’d be livid, definately not so graceful.

    Not that I’d have an Obama sign. Ever.

  23. #25 Xopher

    feel free to walk up to my neighbors yard (the one with the ‘stars and bars’ not the ‘battle flag,’ and also a McCain & Palin sign) and try it. or better yet try it with the business up the road (that place has two ‘battle flags’ in alternate colors and also a ‘Christian’ flag) I imagine you’ll get a warning shot. Alas, my state fetishizes the CSA and glosses over the the issue of slavery. I will voice my displeasure by voting but I don’t think my vote will matter.

    NB the ‘battle flag’ and the ‘stars and bars’ are separate flags with the later one being the ‘First Confederate flag’

    I like the ‘stars and bars’ since it looks like the “Betsy Ross” flag and the EU flag, it also lacks the stains of persecution and hate that the battle flag inspires.

  24. Leroy C. McLaughlin.

    Now, there is a real American Hero.

    I hope if something like that ever happened to me I would have the moral courage to NOT kick the living hell out of the jackass who did it.

  25. A freind of mind had something similar happen in her neck of the woods, her neighbors had a sign that says “Vote Republican…. if you’re crazy” and then that sign got stolen. They had annother sign that said “Vote for Obama if you love your country and you love free speech”

  26. And in one area, brake lines cut if you put out an Obama sign.

    I’d heard of that happening recently, but it was somebody cutting the brake lines of Liberal supporters in Canada just before their election. That’s happening here now?

  27. Terry @ 27: He might not, as a preacher, but there’s lots of Christianity which allows one to have guns.

    ZOE: Preacher, don’t the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?

    BOOK: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.

  28. Mythago: I suspect he has guns.

    He very likely does, and it’s very clear that he would not even think of using them in this situation. That’s why he’s a decent human being and I’m not. (Still better than idiots who swap an ‘Obama’ sign for a slavery flag, though.)

  29. Edward Trimnel @ 23

    Actually I’m an independent because there are things I like and don’t like about any political party. I also don’t believe in the two party system. (I am pretty liberal in many respects though)

    Your definition of Republican is actually not something I am particularly opposed to, and is the republicanism that my parents believed in. There is a LOT about Libertarianism that I like. I agree with you that the neo-con movement has totally destroyed the party.
    I am glad to hear of a movement back in the original direction. :)

    In any case, I did not mean to imply that all republicans are somehow bigots or would not be offended by a story like this. I hope it did not appear that way. The level of bigotry this election both in terms of sexual orientation and minorities actually makes my heart ache. Especially when its framed as being “christian.” that is not Christian, the minister in this story… now THAT is a christian.

    Pepper @ 8
    I am getting my Masters Degree in history, and while there have been very intense elections, I am not sure if there has ever been anything this violent. There was some intense radicalism in the 60s regarding the Vietnam War however. But the last time that I know of where this level of open blatant violent racism was so visible was during the era of Jim Crow and during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. You’d think in 50 years we could have moved past this crap.

  30. Joel @ 34: I read that and thought, “What’s Zoe Boutin doing talking to Shepherd Book? …Oh, right.”

    Not that I would ever forget Gina Torres, it’s just the context…

  31. @8

    “Older folks? Historians? Help me out. Were the good old days really better than this?”

    Unfortunately, they were not better. Not at all. This sort of biggotry is a mere shadow of something much greater. Need I remind you of these lunatics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan

    In 1924 they numbered 4,000,000. Today they number something like 7,000.

    Now, it is only the biggots who would do something like this. A half century ago, the cops and press might have been on the side of the guy raising the flag and the flag might have been a burning cross.

    We have come a long way in the last century.

  32. thisisendless@37
    “You’d think in 50 years we could have moved past this crap.”

    One would wish. But we are actually doing pretty well. My speciality is ancient and medieval stuff, so I tend to think in longer cycles than most modern historians do. So to my eye, as much change as we have had on the racism front in only 50 years is actually quite incredible.

    The civil rights movement is still in living memory and Obama might very well be the next president.

    I consider this something quite close to a miracle.

  33. Yes, I realize that 50 years is not that long in the scheme of things. But I suppose the magic lure of the title “21st century” tends to make one think that things should be hurrying along. :)

    I do take your point, and I did think of that. And we have come a long way. Yet it does not make me any less sad or frustrated that we have not come far enough.

  34. #4 Stephen: It’s hard to compare centuries, and I don’t know a lot about Hunnic politics, but I suspect that Attila the Hun was in favor of small government (i.e. government of one) and wasn’t in favor of government programs to help those in need, therefore I’d say he was to the Right.

    So pretty much most everyone in America is to the left of Attila the Hun.

  35. Stephen @ 4:

    Heh, I was going to start my comment “Sigh. I grew up in Chesterfield.”

    I live in southwest Virginia now. The region will go McCain, I’m sure, but there’s a lot more Obama support than you might expect.

  36. I live in Maryland and frequently see bumper stickers with the stars and bars and the words, “Heritage not hate.” They’re often accompanied by other bumper stickers saying, “Keep those Confederate Dollars Boys, The South Will Rise Again!” Blech.

  37. In response to the commenters citing anti-McCain vandalism, it’s not quite the same. Don’t get me wrong–it’s lame and deserving of a swift punch in the mouth to be imposing your beliefs on someone else by vandalizing their property. There is an added, ugly overtone when you not only destroy the sign, but substitute a hate symbol for it.

    I actually don’t despise McCain (although I liked him a lot better before he sold out to the far right), and I think it’s awkward for his campaign to deal with the racism of a (hopefully) small portion of his supporters. Still, though, they’re deluding themselves if they don’t believe that tacitly allowing the “muslim” and “terrorist” junk isn’t walkign down this road.

    As for the reverend, I have no hesitation in saying that he’s a much better man than I am. I wonder if part of his grace comes from his age–he’s actually *lived* through most of the civil rights movement. He can remember not being allowed to vote, eat in certain restaurants, and more. He knows how far we have come (although, obviously, we’re not there yet). He’s lived in times when the Klan had millions of members. The man, in addition to having grace, may have perspective and see this sort of crap as the dying gasps of a movement being dragged out of the door of history.

    He’s still my hero, though.

  38. John @51

    There is an added, ugly overtone when you not only destroy the sign, but substitute a hate symbol for it.

    Yeah, that’s way worse than a bullet I admit.

    But, you know, a bullet is bad.

  39. Frank @52
    As I said:

    “Don’t get me wrong–it’s lame and deserving of a swift punch in the mouth to be imposing your beliefs on someone else by vandalizing their property.”

    I note that your article does not cite anyone actually being in the RV–and I would think that FoxNews would have 24/7 coverage if there had been (never mind the secret service if it was actually a candidate). Yes, there are fools on both sides; in any gatherings as large as that of either party, a certain percentage will be morons. IMHO, racist morons are worse than general morons. Neither is anyone that I care to invite over for dinner, however.

  40. In the escalation of vandalism, I hope that no one dies, on either side; but can we please agree that when that happens, it has gone far too far, and it should all stop, with and without “added ugly overtones”?

    There is entirely too much “he did it first” and “they did it worse” going on out there. Revenge is a dish best served not at all!

  41. this was not merely an act of vanalism, or a prank (although it is possible the perps, if youths/children may not be aware of the gravity of their actions) this was an act of terrorism – a hate crime – they are sending the same message that a burning cross, or a noose hanging from a tree, or a swastika painted on the door of a temple conveys.

    Mr. McLaughlin responded is the best possible way to terrorism (and let’s be frank, that what this was) he refused to be terrorized.

    does anyone else think it’s ironic that McCain/Palin accuse Obama of “palling aound w/ terrorists” (which is false by the way) while at the same time INSPIRING acts of terrorism?

  42. Sadly, Jason, I remember the acts of the terrorists Obama’s accused of associating with, and the offices I worked in were attacked by their associates. He, in my eyes, is not guilty of their crimes by association. He is, though, guilty of associating with them after their unrepented crimes were reported to him (that he didn’t notice the acts of the Weathermen when he was eight years old is possible, and irrelevant.)

  43. The minister is indeed class personified. And most people have more than a touch of that class, though maybe in lesser quantities.

    Unfortunately, the jackasses that would pull stunts also are out there in large numbers. Sigh.

    As for history, this election is a little rougher than average, but we’ve been here before (historically, I mean).

    1800 was pretty wild, because no one knew that a peaceful turnover was in the cards. 1824 begat 1828, and neither of those was a whole lot of fun. And 1860? Please. That may have been the worst of all. The 20th century had a few, too, such as 1912 and 1968.

    There is, indeed, nothing new under the sun.

  44. Tom 30: I never said I’d burn someone else’s Confederate flag!!! I would not. I said if someone stole my Obama sign and substituted a Confederate flag I’d burn that one (I think I can legitimately do whatever I want with it under those circumstances). I said I might consider burning Confederate flags as a demonstration; I assumed that I would be buying them for this purpose (thus giving money to people who produce them, a drawback I hadn’t thought of until now), not stealing them from other people’s yards.

    I think flying a flag is speech, and I’m not going to be suppressing someone else’s speech. They have a right to put up a sign on the front of their house that says “RACIST ASSHOLES LIVE HERE” too, and the meaning is about equivalent; they should expect to be treated just as if they had.

    As for the two different Confederate flags, I did not know that. I’ll have to look into that; thank you.

  45. HTOM @56

    no, actually Obama is guilty of associating with a man who has was a radical anti-vietnam war activist (and arguably a terrorist, in the early 1970’s) and who turned himself in in 1980 and since then has been a prominant advocate for education reform and a college professor. I don’t think that “associating” with Ayers, now, is a dangerous, or reprehensible act. If it is should aren’t the people who also were associated with the Annenberg Challenge also guilty?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Annenberg_Challenge

  46. “I assumed that I would be buying them for this purpose (thus giving money to people who produce them, a drawback I hadn’t thought of until now)”

    You could pull a Betsy Ross and sew your own…

    (Or just print on out on paper and then burn that.)

  47. Good point ScottE. If I decide to do that, I’ll use the printout option…if I don’t want to give my money for a Confederate Battle Flag, I certainly don’t want to give the time it would take me to make one.

  48. Speaking as someone who lives in the area, I just wanted to cut with some local color.

    Chesterfield County is the county immediately south of Richmond, Va. Politically, about 90% of its population votes GOP.

    I just want people to know this because when I read this story, I think it is an example of mob mentality, not partisanship, at its worst. That is, I don’t think this would have happened anywhere that the existing political culture didn’t tacitly approve of it.

    You might think this makes the people who did this the worst type of cowards, I certainly do.

  49. jasonmitchell @59

    This isn’t guilt by association, Obama knowing Ayers means nothing by itself. However Obama supported and helped fund Ayers and his projects. And you should really look into what he means when he says “education reform” (means getting teachers to systematically spout leftist propoganda in class).

    Oh, and there is nothing arguable about him being a former terrorist. He made, planted, and detonated exposives in government buildings. It would take drastic amounts of lawyerly parsing to say he wasn’t a terrorist (perhaps an “active radical revolutionary”).

  50. This isn’t guilt by association, Obama knowing Ayers means nothing by itself. However Obama supported and helped fund Ayers and his projects.

    Wrong.

    The Annenberg Challenge was funded by the Annenberg Foundation (who also funded other Annenberg Challenges in other cities.).

    Which means the Annenbergs AGREED with Ayers’ methods (at least to the point where they thought they should be funded in schools). And one of the funders of the Annenberg Foundation is Leonore Annenberg, who is a supporter of McCain. Unless you’re trying to say that Obama’s judgement is suspect for supporting a person who received millions of dollars from a Republican source.

    I sorry to be so combative, but what you said is a MASSIVE distortion of what happened and is a MASSIVE distortion of Obama’s judgement.

  51. thepi @# 63

    “Obama supported and helped fund Ayers and his projects.”

    So did the Annenberg Foundation. The president and chairman of which is Leonore Annenberg. Who endorsed John McCain.

    So does that make McCain a radical leftist? I’m all confused by this whole who-knew-whom thing.

  52. Ah…..sorry to be so vehement on this, but the whole Ayers things makes absolutely no sense, from top to bottom. It’s the very epitome of a low-information argument, because anyone who looked into it would see it would fall apart with the tiniest bit of information.

  53. gwangung @67:

    not only a “low-information” arguement, an attempted character assasination- McCain (and Hillary Clinton) used the Ayers link – just so they could say “Obama” and “terrorist” in the same sentence

  54. not only a “low-information” arguement, an attempted character assasination- McCain (and Hillary Clinton) used the Ayers link – just so they could say “Obama” and “terrorist” in the same sentence

    It’s a damn insulting argument. Like nobody would check that little podunk town, Chicago, for info….

    (and it’s not like there wasn’t fodder there. Ayers’ effort in the Annenberg Challenge simply wasn’t effective; nothing that he did was any better than in any other schools. You don’t think a better ad would have hit Obama with a “he will waste your money” meme?)

  55. and insulting arguments – seems to be a common MO for the GOP:

    belief that choosing Palin would attact Clinon’s supporters, because they both lack a y chromosome?!

  56. Re: 63 “‘education reform’ (means getting teachers to systematically spout leftist propaganda in class)”

    As someone who plans a career in education and who will undoubtedly be accused of “spouting leftist propaganda” (Assuming anyone cares enough to target a Byzantinist) I tend to find that when someone accuses a teacher of “spouting leftist propaganda” what they mean is that said teacher is “teaching children to think for themselves.”

    The result of people believing that teaching children to think for themselves is somehow “leftist propoganda” tends to be stuff like this: (from the 2006 Florida Education Bill)

    “American history shall be viewed as factual, not constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.”

    This, from a historical theory standpoint, is complete malarkey. Yet, because people are afraid that if children are taught the methods of constructing a historical narrative, it will be taught to multiple years of students in Florida who will go on to look back at history as “that boring list of names and dates we had to memorize.” As opposed to having been taught how to take pieces of evidence and use methods such as constructing a narrative to relate those facts to each other and come to their own conclusions. Or in short: to think for themselves.

    Good teaching is not telling people what is true, it is showing people how to construct what is true for themselves. They might come to a different opinion than their teacher, in fact, they should come to a different opinion than their teacher much of the time. That is education, there is no progress in any field if people are taught to just accept what they have been taught and not to question it. There is no improvement for the state of mankind if people are not taught to come up with innovative and new approaches to old problems.

    I think Bill Ayers own words are the best place to turn to prove that what he wants is exactly the same as any good teacher. To teach people to think for themselves:

    “Totalitarianism demands obedience and conformity, hierarchy, command and control. Royalty requires allegiance. Capitalism promotes racism and militarism – turning people into consumers, not citizens. Participatory democracy, by contrast, requires free people coming together voluntarily as equals who are capable of both self-realization and, at the same time, full participation in a shared political and economic life.

    Education contributes to human liberation to the extent that people reflect on their lives, and, becoming more conscious, insert themselves as subjects in history. To be a good teacher means above all to have faith in the people, to believe in the possibility that people can create and change things. Education is not preparation for life, but rather education is life itself ,an active process in which everyone— students and teachers– participates as co-learners.” Bill Ayers, http://billayers.wordpress.com/2006/11/

    That his own point of view, and even his own reasons for teaching, are extremely to the left of the political spectrum does not change that his stated goal in his teaching is to teach people to “reflect on their lives” and “insert themselves as subjects in history.”

    This is not brainwashing students to think as a liberal, but rather it is brainwashing students to think for themselves rather than to obey mindlessly.

    What could possibly be a more American education ideal than that?

    In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.
    –Thomas Jefferson to David Harding, 1824.

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