10.11.2009

Obama: A Nobel Peace Prize, Health Care, Afghanistan &... LGBTs???



At the same time President Obama is being honored after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, he is dealing with an inherited military conflict in Afghanistan which appears to be dragging his administration further into an increasingly expensive foreign war at a time when the domestic economy is in a disastrous free fall.

Ironically, continued conflict in Afghanistan threatens to further inflame world opinion perhaps squandering much of the good will generated after Obama's election, which resulted in him winning the prestigious award in the first place.

On the foreign policy front, drug lords, warlords, death and corruption are still the order of the day in Afghanistan and the presidential election results are still unknown. There are still deadly bombings occurring daily in parts of Iraq and he has failed to persuade America's "sacrosanct" partner Israel to stop creating barriers to peace and to put down their bloody and paralyzing weapons.

On the domestic front, in the midst of partisan rancor and despite the photo op involving doctors on the White House lawn last week, Obama's fight for health care reform is far from over.

And did I mention his promised closure of Guantanamo Bay? Despite Obama saying it would be closed by the end of January 2010, Army Brigadier General Timothy Lake was just named the new deputy commander of the U.S. joint military force that runs the prison which holds over 220 suspected terrorists. He was given a one-year term. You do the math.

With all that being said, clearly President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize was a very significant symbolic act marking the end of the punishing eight years of the Bush, Cheney, Rove administration. In fact, it is obvious to most that the award was really a reward for the fact that we survived!

While these are all very important points of discussion and vigorous debate, this writing was motivated by something other than those news items. While watching CNN, I happened to catch a speech delivered by President Obama to a prominent LBGT umbrella group on October 10, in Washington DC.

I found it troubling that during a portion of the speech, he appeared to create a moral equivalence between those involved in the LGBT rights effort and those active in the Civil Rights movement.

Under pressure from the militant gay rights lobby to move faster to fulfill some of his campaign promises, President Obama reiterated that his support for them is "unwavering." They would like to see him move quicker to repeal the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy of the military and to institute reforms in the area of same-sex unions. They are not same-sex "marriages." The Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 signed into law by then President Bill Clinton defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. He got that one right.

Going back to the speech, President Obama said it was not his position to tell LGBT rights advocates in 2009 to be patient any more than it was the responsibility of the president to tell others to be patient during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's.

All free-thinkers knowledgeable of civic engagement and history should find that to be a faulty statement.

There is no parallel comparison to be drawn between the two. The push for Civil Rights was a legitimate movement, the other is a special interest group. They should not be juxtaposed.

During the push for Civil Rights, whether you agree with the non-violent methodology in the face of vicious White violence or not, the fact remains that Black people were being beaten, lynched and killed regularly, in many cases, with the sanctioning of corrupt local and federal law enforcement officials and politicians who looked the other way while these crimes against humanity were being committed. There were signs that said "White Only" and "Colored Only" that differentiated where Blacks could eat, shop, ride and live.

Has this been anything close to the reality faced by gays? Has this ever been reported to be a part of the experience of the gay rights activists?

For President Obama, clearly, the honeymoon is over, and the criticism he has faced from the gay rights lobby is another example of that. One of the problems with politicians in the American political system is that they attempt to be all things to all people.

I realize that number one is a hard spot and Barack Obama's election has impacted the world on many different levels. That much is undeniable. It remains to be seen what type of discussion we will have three to six months from now when people will really be questioning whether the "change" that represented so much "hope" was really just "hype."

(Ashahed M. Muhammad is an author, researcher and the director of the Truth Establishment Institute.)

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