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PDY Blog for 11-8-04

Coming together in our grief

Behold the noble pansy

[NOTE: In tomorrow’s blog, I will address the confused and confusing question of whether the gay marriage issue gave us four more years of George Bush. Why Must we Ape the Bourgeoisie?]

    What did I do on that grief-stricken morning of Wednesday, November 3? I tried to think selfishly about what would bring a little sunshine into my life, a moment of pure pleasure. So, I went to Lowe’s and bought 7 flats of pansies and planted them all around me. Hail, the noble pansy! While it appears to be the most delicate and fragile of all the plants in nature, it is, in fact, among the toughest. [The reader is fully welcome to attribute any and all larger significance and meaning to this bit of gardening news.] When all the glorious colors of spring and summer wilt and die in the face of the first autumn frosts, the noble pansy has just begun its colorful season. No other flower lasts through the winter the way the pansy does; often you’ll see its splendid colors peaking through the ice and snow. It is nature’s own smiling face looking back at you, saying there is still hope.

    If there is a silver lining to this dreadful dark cloud of doom that engulfed our country this week, it is in the way we have all come together with hugs and words of comfort. Like friends and family genuinely grieving over the loss of a loved one, we must have ourselves a good long cry for our beloved country. And then, pick ourselves up and move on, get back to work for peace and justice and all the other causes we believe in.

    The response to this blog has been very gratifying even though it’s only been going for a few days. My old UPI colleague in Vietnam, Joe Galloway, wrote: “Go get the bastids, Perry Deane. I am more than a tetch depressed by this outcome of the election, but in the end I have to figure the American electorate get what they deserve. The republic will somehow stagger through and survive. The people will wake up one day.” Joe is one of the premiere experts on the whole subject of war writing in America today. He is the senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder newspapers and the author of one of the best books out of the Vietnam Experience, “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young.” Mel Gibson starred in the movie. You can read Joe’s very insightful columns on the current war at or through Knight Ridder. My old friend, Albert Bradford, passed along some quotations he and his friends had shared in their first hours of mourning for America. One friend wrote: “Remember the bird that rose from the ashes. Dwell not on losing, for that way lies sickness.” Another copied this wonderful Langston Hughes poem:

Still Here

I’ve been scared and battered.

My hopes the wind done scattered.

Snow has friz me, sun has baked me.

Looks like between ‘em

They done tried to make me

Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’—

But I don’t care.

I’m still here.


    HOWARD DEAN IS STILL WITH US. We can be thankful that out of the turmoil of this presidential election emerged a powerful and articulate progressive voice in Vermont’s Governor Howard Dean. He not only re-energized the Democratic Party, he brought new energy to the whole electoral system. Dean’s post-election message included the following:

    “Tens of millions of us are disappointed today because we put so much of ourselves into this election. We donated money, we talked to friends, we knocked on doors. We invested ourselves in the political process.

    “That process does not end today. These are not short-term investments. We will only create lasting change if that sense of obligation and responsibility becomes a permanent part of our lives.

    “Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’

    “We will not be silent.”


    FORMER SENATOR GARY HART has an excellent op ed piece in today’s [11-08-04] New York Times. He describes his own fundamentalist background, raised in the super-fundamentalist Church of the Nazarene. He quickly answered those who would disqualify him from commenting on religion by saying: “I am a sinner. I only ask for the same degree of forgiveness from my many critics as they are willing to grant George W. Bush for his transgressions.” His conclusions are worth holding onto:

    “Whether Bush supporters care or not, people around the world now see America as arrogant, self-righteous and superior. These are not qualities of any traditional faith I am aware of. If faith now drives our politics, at the very least let’s make it a faith of inclusion, genuine compassion, humility, justice and accountability. In the words of the profit Micah: ‘He hat shown thee, O man, what is good. What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?’ And, instead of ‘O man,’ let’s insert ‘O America.’”



    “We are required now to work together for the good of our country. In the days ahead, we must find common cause, we must join in common effort, without remorse or recriminations, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion.” --from Sen. John Kerry’s concession speech, Nov. 3, 2004.


    WHAT WE ARE UP AGAINST, the two faces of george:

    George Bush in his victory speech on Nov. 3, 2004: “Today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation.”

    George Bush at his press conference, Nov. 4, 2004: “Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it…there is a feeling the people have spoken and embraced your point of view, and that’s what I intend to tell the Congress.”

Pray for Elizabeth Edwards

Soldiering On

    This past week North Carolina’s own Elizabeth Edwards offered us an extraordinary profile in courage. Although her doctor said the lump in her breast might be cancerous, she carried on with the campaign until the concession speeches. Only then did she go to a clinic where a needle biopsy showed that she did, indeed, have breast cancer.

    Such courage and quiet dignity are so extremely rare on the political scene today, we can only pray for a swift recovery for Elizabeth and John and their family. Lord only knows, we need their voices now more than ever.

                                                     --Perry Deane Young, Chapel Hill. This letter was published on the editorial page of the Raleigh News & Observer, November 7, 2004.

A few rays of sunshine

    In Dallas, Texas, an openly lesbian woman was elected sheriff of Dallas County. In Wilmington, North Carolina, the [losing] right wing Republican candidate for governor, Patrick Ballantine, saw his seat in the North Carolina Senate won by an openly lesbian woman.