Q & R: amazed at your reluctance
Here's the Q:
Brian, I am a big fan of yours, and like you supported Obama in 2008. I reluctantly voted for him in 2012. I have followed your comments on President Obama over the years and am continually amazed at your seeming reluctance to criticize the President on his astounding commitment to the myth of American redemptive violence. In 08 Obama gave the clear impression he was going to move the country off of a war footing. After he was elected he wrestled with the continued use of force in Afghanistan, eventually deciding to double down on violence. Since then he has directed assassinations without due process. I think his record on this most important of issues is deplorable. Where is your voice on this?
Here's the R:
Thanks for your note. I've written about the myth of redemptive violence quite often on this blog, and I've mentioned drones a few times since President Obama came to office
But you're right: I haven't yet made it a primary focus and more needs to be said on the subject. I've been considering what to say first since receiving your email, and this essay from Jennifer Butler of Faith in Public Life came in. Quotable (emphasis mine):
Faith leaders, inspired by the uncompromising commands of the Almighty, will always call for more justice than will political leaders who navigate the cross-currents of special interest pressure, fundraising, compromise, expediency, and the reelection campaign that is always right around the corner. If we’re not asking for more than politicians are offering, we aren’t doing our jobs.
I'll include Jennifer's piece below in its entirety because it says what I was thinking better than I could have said it. This is a great time to link up with groups like FPL, Sojourners, NSP, and others that are mobilizing public opinion to "ask for more than politicians are offering."
An Inspired Address
President Obama’s second inaugural address, delivered on Martin Luther King Day, was a politically ambitious speech that placed progressive values in the context of our nation’s history and founding ideals. He put addressing climate change back on the political agenda and spoke of it as a religious issue and a moral responsibility. He forcefully rebutted the GOP’s Ayn Rand-inspired rhetoric about the social safety net. He hearkened to historic achievements to argue that we can greatly advance justice and peace in the present.
But as strong as this speech was, Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community liberated from racism, materialism and militarism is far more bold and righteous. Whereas the President called for everyone to have a fair shot at success and a safety net to protect us from catastrophe, King explicitly argued that all of God’s children are entitled to decent housing, quality healthcare, equal education, labor rights, and jobs that pay a living wage. Where President Obama said perpetual war is unnecessary, King condemned the military industrial complex and the cultural values that make war inevitable.
A Stronger Witness
That’s how it should be. Faith leaders, inspired by the uncompromising commands of the Almighty, will always call for more justice than will political leaders who navigate the cross-currents of special interest pressure, fundraising, compromise, expediency, and the reelection campaign that is always right around the corner. If we’re not asking for more than politicians are offering, we aren’t doing our jobs.
In the 1950s and ‘60s, Dr. King’s unrelenting mobilization for equality infuriated even those politicians who supported the civil rights movement. After breakthroughs like the Voting Rights Act, he pushed onward for economic justice and peace. As Congress reconvenes and President Obama embarks upon his legacy-defining second term, I hope King’s example inspires us all to pressure our elected officials to overcome the obstacles and ideologies that stand in the way of justice.