There’s an interesting dynamic developing regarding the choice of Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration. Critics, including many GLBT advocates, are saying that the choice of Warren, who has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights and was a leading voice for Proposition 8 in California (which made gay marriage unconstitutional), is a slap in the face to many of Obama’s strongest supporters and financial contributors.
Obama has defended the pick by stressing his own support for gay rights, and asserting the importance of “agreeing to disagree on certain social issues.” His transition team also released a set of talking points justifying the selection of Warren, based on other issues where Warren's views are in line with Obama's, such as AIDS and poverty.
Obama's defense prompted John Aravosis to point out the irony in the fact that Obama would most certainly not “agree to disagree” about racism, which would directly affect his own family, but is willing to do so on an issue affecting other families. Atrios, commenting on the political calculus of Obama’s position, describes it rather bluntly when he points out that, in today’s world, “anti-gay bigotry is very centrist!”
But here’s my (somewhat related) question:
Dick Cheney just came out and admitted on national television to supporting and authorizing torture, which we now know led to the death of numerous uncharged and untried “enemy combatants.” These are acts that are universally accepted under any historical definition as “war crimes,” and Cheney now openly admits to facilitating them.
In his effort to change to a more bipartisan, cooperative, tone in Washington, where does Barack Obama place torture and war crimes? Will his “centrist” focus lead him to look toward glossing over the use of these tactics by treating them as a “social issue” on which we can “agree to disagree?” Will those who speak out toward rationalizing past acts of torture be given a seat at the table, because they agree with the President on other issues?
Or will these tactics be condemned as harshly, and eventually punished as severely, as would open acts of racism that led to the unconscionable killing of other human beings?
Simply put, in an Obama Administration, will a history of supporting torture be treated as being more akin to a history of racism, or to “social disapproval” of homosexuality?
Stay tuned . . .