Love Your Enemy

I agree 100 percent with your statement [“A Word in Edgewise,” Lavender, Jan. 30] on President Barack Obama’s choice concerning the (ir)Reverend Rick Warren—someone I do consider an “enemy” of sorts.

When I first heard of the choice, I was sorely disappointed and really quite angry. I had been an admirer of Obama’s long before his candidacy, mainly because of his outspoken and eloquent stance against the Iraq War. Knowing many other LGBT people (myself included) who helped vote him into office, I felt somewhat betrayed (as I am sure we all did) with the invitation that Obama offered to Warren.

My first reaction was to invoke the image of a real hero: Bayard Rustin. I think it’s a shame that Rustin, a man who should be one of the most important people in American history, is relegated to the backseat of our memory simply because he was gay.

Warren represents the kind of bigotry that keeps America from acknowledging Rustin’s contributions. As Obama is truly indebted to Rustin, I wanted to scream at him that, through Warren, he has turned his back on Rustin’s nonviolent Civil Rights legacy.

Then, I remembered a famous quote by Rustin: “When I say I love [Senator James] Eastland, it sounds preposterous—a man who brutalizes people. But ‘you’ love him, or you wouldn’t be here. You’re going to Mississippi to create social change—and you love Eastland in your desire to create conditions that will redeem his children. Loving your enemy is manifest in putting your arms not around the man but around the social situation, to take power from those who misuse it—at which point they can become human, too.”

When I reviewed this statement in my head, I came to the conclusion that maybe Obama is doing exactly what Rustin would have.

—Sreekishen Nair

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