Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize. How Should We Respond?

For those who seem so distraught over the fact that Barack Obama is now a Nobel Laureate I have an history lesson.

When, on December 10, 1964, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, he began his speech with the following words:

I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

I wasn’t around at the time, but I rather suspect Dr. King was addressing his American critics who must certainly have suggested that he really hadn’t yet achieved anything worthy of a Peace Prize. Continue reading

Blog Returning Soon; My Name Dropped on Maddow; GObama!

I’ve finished my book (which doesn’t yet have a title), and I’ll be back on my blog soon. Meanwhile, check out this clip from a recent Rachel Maddow Show on which my named is dropped (it’s about 5:45 into the clip):

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Thanks to Jeff Sharlet for the name drop! By the way, his book is excellent. Go buy it.

And congratulations to President Obama for winning the Peace Prize. Regardless of political persuasion and regardless of how much we think he may or may not deserve the prize, now is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of a fellow American and to urge him on to greater acts of peacemaking.

Obama Wins! Yes We Can, Yes We Did, And I’m So Proud

Never have I been so happy to be an American, never so proud to look at my daughter, Mimi, who is almost seven, and say to her, “remember this night for as long as you live. Tonight Americans have done something extraordinary, historic, brave, and long-overdue. We have elected a president who isn’t white.”
Continue reading

Rejecting the Racist vote

This column also was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Page on May 12, 2008

OK, so the Democratic primary season is just about over, and this may be a moot point, but as Hillary Clinton wages her final efforts to convince Democrats that she should be the nominee in November, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with her rhetoric because it seems to contain a racist subtext which panders to the worst elements of American society. Continue reading

Barack Obama’s Pastor

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on March 17, 2008.

I imagine this presents something of a dilemma for Barack Obama’s detractors and political rivals: what should be said about The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Obama family pastor, who has made incendiary statements about the September 11 terrorists attacks and about Hillary Clinton and John McCain? Continue reading

Spring Training Brings New Hope

This column was the featured commentary on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on February 18th, 2008. It also was linked on UPI’s main website. 

In Northern California spring is a confusing thing. Just the other day I drove three and a half hours from my home in San Jose to eat lunch with my brothers and our dad at an old saloon in the small town of Upper Lake, a journey that took me across the wine country and deep into the hills of California’s Coastal Range. It was a beautiful day, warm enough that we ate our lunch outside. Mustard was blooming in the vineyards—carpets of astonishing gold floating between the rows of bare grapevines and the delicate green of new grass—this blooming in stubborn defiance of the snow that still covered the ridgelines above the lake.

We don’t have groundhogs in California. There is no meteorological prognostication in the beauty of a single day. The next several weeks could belong to the wildflowers or to the snow. We won’t know if spring is coming until it’s already well under way.

This is why we need baseball in Northern California.   Continue reading

Gobama! The Lions’ Den Makes an Endorsement

This ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on February 5, 2008.

As a member of the California Green Party I will not be choosing between casting a vote for an African American candidate or a woman candidate when I participate in the great civic event that will be Super Tuesday. I will be voting for Cynthia McKinney, a former member of congress from Georgia who happens to be both African American and a woman. She is the most experienced and the most inspirational candidate on the Green ballot.

For weeks now I’ve been planning to write a column on the eve of Super Tuesday extolling the virtues of membership in a “third party.” I joined the Green Party when Bill Clinton was president. It seemed to me then—as now—that the Democrats had become too beholden to corporate interests, too much like the Republicans in their willingness to sell their corporate soul for the sake of a positive cash flow. Too often, choosing between Democrats and the Republicans is like choosing between Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee. Between the two coffee chains there are some very real differences in substance and style, but in the end they’re both nameless, faceless corporate behemoths, and I prefer to patronize locally owned coffee shops. In coffee as in politics, I like real choice. Two political parties, like two major coffee chains, is not much of a choice. I want to live in an America and to participate in a political system with more options.

But in the last few weeks Barack Obama has changed my mind. Continue reading