Monday, October 6, 2008

Fair and Balanced

Couple of weeks ago, the Washington State Veterans for Obama officially opened its office in Seattle. Since I'm a member, I figured I'd go. The media were supposed to be there (they weren't); maybe I could get a little face time. (I'm in the above picture, absent face. Others include a two-star general, a state senator, people from veterans' outreach programs, generic vets, coupla flags, etc.)

I have no problem identifying as a liberal. As a Democrat, though, it's sometimes cringe-inducing.

The event was pleasant enough: mercifully short, less than an hour late, several satisfyingly brief speeches, one or two of them actually moving, maybe forty people (most of whom dutifully wandered over from other Democratic offices in the building, a decidedly run-down one, furnished like a dorm-room only cheaper) looking on. But for some reason it began with a Native American prayer. Burning some plants before the beginning (when I arrived I thought it was cigarettes, asked if I was at the "Smokers for Obama" convention. Not met with humor), waving some feathers in the direction of the four winds, turning and chanting in an unspecified native language, earnest, serious.

Don't misunderstand. I have no problem with Native Americans. Many of my patients were Native American. I operated on a couple of Chiefs, had in my hands the gallbladders of many tribal members (much higher incidence of gallstones in Native Americans than non-natives.) But why was that a part of the opening? Why not Hebrew prayers, or a little Hare Krishna? Or better still, why not none of the above? There's some sort of pseudo-sensitivity going on, an underlying assumption of something with which I don't agree. Not dissimilar to the menu police at the Denver convention: it's a sort of in-your-face (face theme, here) assertion that the values of some surely must be the values of all. Which is sort of strange, for the party of open-minded diversity.

Neither issue, nutrition or native, is anywhere close to turning me away. Silly, more than anything. And embarrassing. I squirmed when being subjected to feathers and fumes just as I squirmed during prayers in school. And where, pray tell, is the sense of proportion? Or, Coyote-Raven-Turtle forbid, the humor?


  1. "sort of strange for a party of open minded diversity"-excellent observation of what that party may actually your mind to what I believe?

    If ET's do exist and if they are watching us at this time-they will never come here! A party of change and a party of reform-one of which will prevail, but not necessarily win-neither will be able to deliver on their promises-

  2. I get this completely. Living in a "vegetarian house" currently, there are a lot of very smart, savvy people here, but there is also, to my disappointment, all manner of allegedly enviro-friendly behavior that transcends common sense and extends well into the ridiculous. It's decoration. And it discredits, rather than reinforces.

  3. Sid, after last night's debate and listening to McCain, I have decided to support Obama...passively.... The VA meeting should have started with a brief barucha.

  4. The correct term is "American Indians" or Amerindians if you're into combining words, "Native Americans" is so 70's, you might as well wear your Captain and Tenille T-shirt. Don't believe me, well its the "Bureau of Indian Affairs" that handles their umm well "affairs" not the "Bureau of Native American Affairs"


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