I’m So Tired of America
October 10, 2008, 5:54 am
Filed under: Rufus Wainwright, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I’m going to a town that has already been burnt down
I’m going to a place that has already been disgraced
I’m gonna see some folks who have already been let down
I’m so tired of America

I was going to blog about Barack Obama’s controversial relationship with Bill Ayers several months ago, but I decided it was a non-issue with regard to Obama’s presidential campaign.  The best thing to do about non-issues is to ignore them on the assumption they will go away, which this one did–until John McCain started slipping in the polls.  The best way to whip people into a frenzy is to frighten them, and since 9/11, the best way to frighten them is to say the t-word.  If you doubt for one moment how many proudly ignorant people there are in this country, check out what Blogger Interrupted captured at this McCain/Palin rally in Strongville, Ohio:

Here’s Part 2:

I’m gonna make it up for all of The Sunday Times
I’m gonna make it up for all of the nursery rhymes
They never really seem to want to tell the truth
I’m so tired of you, America

Like many hundreds–probably thousands–of people in and around Chicago, I know Bill Ayers.  As an Honors College student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I took a seminar in Autobiography and Pedagogy with him and a co-instructor in the early 90s.  I wasn’t familiar with his work in the Department of Education because I was a psych major, but he struck me as a genuine, extremely down-to-earth person and a born teacher.  I once expressed to him that I was having trouble reconciling my burgeoning existentialist leanings with the institution’s empirical approach to psychology, and his brief but powerful response helped me to reframe my inner conflicts as a positive and productive process.  This is what good teachers do, you see.

At the time I took the seminar, I was familiar with the Weather Underground as a group but I had not the foggiest notion that Bill Ayers had participated.  Like Barack Obama, I knew him as a teacher and a community activist because that was who I met and that was how he presented himself.  Apart from helping us learn how to explore inside ourselves and apply that knowledge to helping others learn, I never felt he had an agenda.  Only several years later did I find out about Bill’s history, and although it definitely was a bit of a surprise, it did not significantly change my opinion of him.

Tell me, do you really think you go to hell for having loved?
Tell me, enough of thinking everything that you’ve done is good
I really need to know, after soaking the body of Jesus Christ in blood
I’m so tired of America

If we can talk turkey for a moment, the salient issue here is one of dangerousness.  Presuming for the sake of argument that we cannot and should not entirely dismiss someone’s past actions, perhaps we can agree that more weight should be given to their current behavior.  Regardless of what Bill Ayers might have done in the 1960s, my direct experience has been that he is not even remotely a danger now except to those who believe that only the rich and powerful deserve a quality education.  Contrast that with the behavior of John McCain, Sarah Palin, and their supporters, who are spreading hate, inciting violence, and threatening lives right now, as we speak.  Who is more dangerous?

I really need to know
I may just never see you again, or might as well
You took advantage of a world that loved you well
I’m going to a town that has already been burnt down
I’m so tired of you, America

When I first heard “Going to a Town,” I loved the melody but thought the lyrics heavy-handed.  Now I understand, it is my country that has been heavy-handed but for the first time in eight years we have a modicum of hope for a better future.  Ask yourself, is that better future more likely to spring from those who present by agitating people and inciting violence or from those who present a more rational, informed approach.  In the game of I know you are but what am I? those who incite against Barack Obama and his associates past and present should at the very least be recognized as pointing that fickle finger of fate squarely back at their own hate-contorted visages.

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