Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reactions To My Obama Poem in Cambridge

Last night I posted a poem reacting to the election of Barack Obama titled, "The Messiah Has Not Come."

This evening I debuted the poem at the Cantab Lounge in the People's Republic of Cambridge.

Four years ago when Bush was re-elected I went to the Cantab the night after the election wearing a "Bush-Cheney" T-shirt and chanted, "Four More Years!!! Four More Years!!!" Needless to say, the crowd was none too happy.

The mood was obviously quite different tonight amongst those assembled. I'm not afraid to speak my mind whether in triumph or disaster.

Before the poetry began there was much discussion about the election. One poet, Adam Stone, praised John McCain for his concession speech. But he then said he wished McCain had behaved like this "for the past four years." I voiced my objection and told Adam I didn't buy his argument. "Aaron, I know you don't buy my argument. Your arguments are based on emotion and not logic," Adam replied. Before I could reply Adam walked away from me.

So when my name was announced I spoke about this exchange before reading the poem. I pointed out that it was McCain who said at a Republican rally that the country had nothing to fear from an Obama Presidency. "If that isn't deferential I don't know what is," I replied.

I then read my poem which naturally was not well received.

In fairness, Simone Beaubien, the MC praised me for attending four years ago and attending again even if the outcome wasn't to my liking. I didn't expect her to make that statement and it was surprisingly appreciated.

I also got a nice pat on the back from John Sturm. I've known John for many years now. John recites poetry by Shakespeare, Byron, e.e. cummings in his distinctive voice. If John read the phone book he could move people to tears. John doesn't share my politics. However, four years ago, John defended me during his time on stage after I was getting heckled. He got grief for his trouble. John didn't have to do it but he did so without hesitation.

Even Gary Hicks, an African-American and a self-described Communist, gave me a fist pump and said it was good to see me back in the lion's den.

The only objection came from Mr. Stone.

He publicly objected to this stanza:

I didn't support the dark horse
You brand me with a scarlet letter
Should you call me a racist
I say you'll have to do better

Adam described the stanza as racist, particularly objecting to the phrase dark horse. I shouted, "Are you calling me a racist?" He ignored me and proceeded to read a poem trashing Sarah Palin. I tuned it out and waited for him to depart the stage.

ME: Adam, are you calling me a racist?

ADAM: No, I'm not calling you a racist. The comment is racist.

ME: You cheapen the meaning of racism and you cheapen yourself. There is nothing racist about dark horse.

Adam once again walked away. I guess my article, "Five Things To Say If You Are Called a Racist Because You Won't Vote for Obama" came in handy for the occasion. ('re-called-a-racist-because-you-won't-vote-for-obama/)

If my use of the phrase "dark horse" is racist then the late George Harrison and the Canadian rock group Nickelback are racist because they have both titled their albums "Dark Horse". Yes, one can infer Obama's race when using the term dark horse. But one can also describe Obama as a dark horse because a year ago nearly everyone believed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party's standard bearer. It is the standard meaning of the term. In my poem the term is a double entendre. It is a commentary on people who invoke racism where there is none and also a clear message that I (and for that matter other McCain supporters) will not take being called a racist lying down as Mr. Stone found out this evening.

All in all though I was pleased that people listened to my cautionary tale even if it was something they didn't necessarily want to hear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Dark Horse is racist, then what about the Lipstick on a Pig, followed by Old Fish in a Newspaper. Yeah, those weren't pointed at Palin and McCain.