Inauguration 1-20-09

And in that bright transcendent morning, the once unthinkable was, suddenly and inevitably, done. Who could resist the embracing magic of that moment?

The poet Elizabeth Alexander invoked the common people “repairing the things in need of repair.” In a bleeding world marked by so much unnecessary pain, a world so precariously out of balance, we must find ways to come together in vast missions of repair. “A teacher says, ‘Take out your pencils. Begin.”’

And so it begins.

Years from now the magic will survive or not—and that judgment will rest largely on questions of war and poverty. Martin Luther King Jr’s conscious and courageous connection of racial justice to economic justice and peace is a legacy to embrace in “the fierce urgency of now.” Will this moment be ruined in the furnaces of war, or can we hammer swords into plowshares and become a nation among nations? Can we learn to really live by the principle that anyone’s suffering diminishes us all?

The president’s speech looked in both directions: a return to past glory, a new awakening of peace and justice. A page is turned, and it’s now up to us write the next chapter.

5 Responses to Inauguration 1-20-09

  1. Adam Kuranishi says:


    Dr. King’s last speech in Memphis embodies my thoughts about 1/20/09.. Not that we have reached the ‘promised land,’ but we are at a time in history in which progress and reform can be made, it just seems so damn close… With active youth and revived generations, we’ve joined forces… A lifetime is limited, but a movement is unrelenting, challenged yet persistent.

    “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop… Longevity has its place… I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” (MLK)


  2. louisproyect says:

    I especially liked the reference to Khe Sanh. It reminded me of how valiantly our boys fought in Vietnam to defend the free world against Communism.

  3. Obamageddon says:

    I couldn’t disagree more. MLK would be sadly distraught were he to have a glimpse of how it all turned out. His was a beautiful message that hasn’t been realized, and most likely never will be so long as there are Bread, Circuses and War (BC&W). I don’t see the Obama Administration mitigating the stranglehold BC&W has on us. In fact, I see quite the opposite. I see Obama’s Administration representing the powerful interests, the Plutocracy, and their efforts to paralyze us with BC&W. Hell, all this hoopla and celebration over Obama’s victory and the pageantry surrounding his inauguration is nothing more than Bread & Circuses…..and yet the carnage in Gaza continues with nary a peep. It’s disgusting how Carter was treated at the convention. He was pushed aside and marginalized because of his view that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is nothing short of Apartheid. I’m not going to claim Carter was a Saint, because he wasn’t. He coddled the ruthless, cold blooded murderer, Somoza, and he offered refuge to the ruthless, torturing, murdering Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, however, at least he has the temerity to speak out against the atrocities committed by Israel against the Palestinians.

    In closing, I wish I shared your optimism, but I’m a structuralist, and to expect a radically different outcome from our thoroughly entrenched social-political-economic structures without the aid of some form of calamity would be nothing short of miraculous. So long as there are BC&W in place, there will be no call to action in the streets, and hence, no push from the bottom.

    I do agree that education is the starting point, and that is why I am rasing my children to be critical thinkers. We send our children to Montessori School, and they are learning how to learn, not memorizing facts that they will soon forget. Also, they are learning to learn without all the jingoism and fragmentation. In Montessori, children are encouraged to continue when they get on a roll instead of being cut short and told that class is over. Their momentum is given the opportunity to play out, rather then being aborted because of predefined schedules. All of this, for the most part, is sadly missing in our public school system, and I don’t see that changing with the Obama Administration considering his pick for Education Secretary.

    Sorry to dampen the moment, but I’m trying to keep it real.

  4. NSH says:

    I just returned from the inauguration and it was a powerful experience. I live in South Georgia and am currently in the Curriculum Studies program at GSU. It is amazing how many of Obama’s ideas intersect the theories that I am studying and the social justice transformations that we (as curriculum scholars) are working towards.

  5. Chase Ingersoll says:


    Thanks for the note to the Washtenaw County Marines Detachment 414. If you are interested in being on WAAM 1600 I would like to arrange it, but it would be important to me that we provide a structured format where the issues in your latest book can be discussed with a civility that the complex issues and emotions require rather than a shouting match with the host or the hosts regular callers who may have forgotten to take their medication from the morning.

    I would also be interested in setting up a “reconciliation” discussion with some of the Viet Nam vets here in the local detachment. If McCain can meet with his Viet Nam captors, I don’t see why we can’t do the same and put together a meeting together here with you as a person who fought the war, and some of the guys who were in the war. The primary “cause” of the Washtenaw County Marine Detachment is reaching out to the Vets that are coming back from the Iraq and Afghanistan War. I would like to use the media attention that would be generated by a “reconciliation” discussion to draw attention to the Post Traumatic Stress issues facing the troops that are returning and the desire of the local Veterans community to engage these kids on a personal level. Presently we are not getting any facilitation of or promotion of this cause by the VA or Dept of Defense.

    If you can let me know the issues with your schedule and what sort of ideas you would have on a structure that would foster the most positive experience for you and the Veterans that would be appreciated.

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