I am sometimes amazed at coincidences. Bill Maher’s Real Time showing today actually provided several learning experiences for those who are willing to think; not only outside the box, but with moral clarity. But I first digress.
I am a member of Move To Amend (MTA) and serve on the Executive Committee. I just got back from our bi-yearly executive committee meeting in Portland Oregon where we discussed where we are taking our democracy movement.
MTA’s mission is multifaceted. It has the specific aim to effect the passing of a constitutional amendment that codifies that money is not speech and corporations should not have the inalienable rights as do human beings. Our broader goal is a transformational democracy movement that will ensure that ALL Americans are privy to making the aspirational American dream their own reality.
From its inception MTA understood that one can only create transformational change if a movement is all inclusive. A movement can only be all inclusive if that which maintains the divisions is mitigated; if those that are oppressed are liberated. Why are toxic dumps and dirty factories built almost exclusively in minority neighborhoods or low income neighborhoods? Why as a black man irrespective of those that deny it I am followed in stores more so than my white counterpart? Why is an assertive woman a bitch while Dan Rather is just assertive? Why are Bryant Gumbel’s actions arrogant while Ted Koppel‘s display professionalism?
Anyone going through our anti-oppression and the ills of white privilege training would understand the causal dynamics of the above mentioned dichotomies. However, today’s exchange between Bill Maher’s guest Joy Reid and Charles Cooke was a classic. It displayed how the same reality can be viewed very differently from the oppressed or the one who can empathize with the oppressed as opposed to the view from the oppressor or the one that empathizes with the oppressor.
Prior to the dialogue Bill Maher seemed to be taking a Right Wing position relative to the Muslim countries, by implying their revolution being Islamic has a component that makes them inherently our enemies or less valid than other revolutions. That narrative led to the following dialog between Charles Cooke and Joy Reid.
Charles Cooke: So I think Americans have a problem thinking about this sometimes because -- and I include myself with British people because the revolution that happened here was great and very rarely is that the case in the word. You have this revolution in America in which the British fight the British and then they codify classical liberal values into a constitution and it’s great. But that’s not how it goes down normally. Normally there is bloodshed and its horrible and especially in the Middle East what they want to replace their dictatorships with if you look at the polling it’s Sharia law.
Joy Reid: But the revolution in the US was great unless you were a slave and then there was a war where 600,000 Americans had to die to make it better. Revolution isn’t always great. In the French Revolution there were beheadings. Revolutions are messy. You want people to have democracy it can be messy.
Charles Cooke: The slavery point I think is cheap.
Joy Reid: You mean the revolution in the United States that produced a government that included slaves that included enslaved Africans; it’s a cheap shot to include that in the narrative? I mean, that is part of the narrative.
Charles Cooke: The point is if you are looking for perfection in the18th century you are not going to find it. What the Americans did was a massive step forward. It wasn’t perfect. It was resolved in a Civil War that was bloody and awful. But if we are going to write off the greatest revolution, the greatest constitution in the world because it was imperfect and it was flawed then we should all go home.
Joy Reid: In the Middle East we are also saying these are imperfect revolutions. Whenever the US goes in and try to impose our vision of democracy in that region we fail.
I generally take all in a stride. I must admit that listening to that British prick (Charles Cooke) pissed me off. If one is sitting on the side of the revolution that concludes with one having rights or the semblance of rights, one can be dismissive. If even after the civil war by having white skin one had the semblance of freedom one could be dismissive. If you were Black, Native, Chinese, to some extent a woman of any race, or other, irrespective of this constitution Cooke believes is so great, generations after generations of these people lived without experiencing said greatness.
Cooke should revisit his history and understand who that constitution was originally written for. He can start here. Even after the Civil War, most Americans could not vote. Most Americans were afforded few rights. The one genius within the constitution is its elastic clause, the built in mechanism to amend it or change it with a Constitutional Convention potentially avoiding bloody conflicts in order to effect its change.
I am sure Joy Reid could have been much sharper in hitting back at this prick. It is evident that she tempered her response. After-all, she wants to be invited on this show and others again and again.