Co-opt Naomi Klein for 2009
I happened upon an article in The New Yorker the other day about Naomi Klein, “Outside Agitator, Naomi Klein and the new left” by Larissa MacFarquhar (December 8, 2008) that resulted in a mini-internet research project.
I have become numbed to the barrage of information and viewpoints that are available courtesy of all the media in our lives. Even though I have heard Naomi Klein's name tossed around, I never paid attention to her work. Because of the profile I read in the New Yorker (partially in my doctors office and the rest at home, via the internet), I have been introduced to a voice that should be interpreted to lend direction to the so-called Stonewall 2.0 movement.
Klein did a pre-election interview with Paul Jay on “The Real News.com” that contains advice and analysis that LGBTs should heed in the new year now that Obama has been elected. She is questioned and speaks only about the war and the economy, but the points she makes about our new president and the left/progressive movement in this country are extremely astute and applicable to the LGBT crusade.
A few of my favorite parts: [Editor's Note: Rest of post moved below fold for front-page purposes. — “R”R]
At the very beginning, an excerpt from a speech at the Media Reform Conference, “What will the people that helped win his historic victory ask of Obama now? I hope that we – that you – will demand that he earn the incredible trust that he has been given.”
Will LGBT voters that worked for Obama's election take this responsibility to heart?
When asked by Jay if the progressives should “shut up” for a while to ensure an Obama victory, Klein discusses how the anti-war movement – in particular the MoveOn organization – have abdicated their responsibility to stopping the war by giving Obama uncritical support when his position is not anti-war.
She says, “I actually don't think this is about Obama bashing. It's really about the intellectual integrity and the political integrity of progressives in our organizations…how do you actually segue from being a cheerleader to being a grassroots pressure?”
Apply the LGBT / progressive organizations to this standard. It absolutely fits our population. We overwhelmingly supported his candidacy and we overlooked his substandard LGBT positions. We need to regain our intellectual integrity.
Listen closely to Klein's description of Bill Clinton's “conversion” at the beginning of his first term. Substitute the corporate influence on Clinton with the evangelical influences on Obama. Is the choice of Rick Warren a sign that the Obama conversion has been completed? Was a conversion even necessary?
She says, “These…funders of these campaigns know that they are going to be applying pressure. They are applying pressue now and they are going to be applying pressure in that transition period..” Klein talks about the corporations and their leverage, but she could just as well be speaking of the religionists, and their leverage.
Klein shows how left wing forces line up behind Obama in an uncritical way and consequently they are taken for granted. Sound familiar?
My point is that since Obama was elected and Prop 8 passed (bringing the total of state amendments up to 30) and now we are presented with a dark cloud on the horizon via the selection of Warren as invocator-in-chief it is our responsibility to make our displeasure and disgruntlement and impatience known.
I hope that in 2009 we can learn to separate ourselves from political idol worship and become staunch defenders of our own rights as citizens. The speech that Klein gave at the Media conference 6 months ago is an excellent rallying cry for all lefties and/or progressives – and definitely for all LGBT Americans that have been aroused (hopefully) in the fall of 2008.