Inauguration Controversy: The Anarchists and Others

When it came time to choose Inauguration articles, I knew immediately which one I wanted to do: Obama’s Inauguration Will Be Mostly Celebratory, But Not Controversy Free.

Don’t get me wrong. I am beyond delighted that Obama will be our 44th president. I absolutely, shocking as it may seem, believe there is something to be said for a campaign built on hope and change. I campaigned, I phonebanked, I even did a day of Inaugurual community service on Saturday because I couldn’t do the day of service today.

But more than I like hope and belief, I like controversy. And while I think it’s good for the country that everyone in DC will be celebrating, I don’t think we should forget that there are anarchist groups who are staging small protests. And even if the protests don’t get a lot of attention, I don’t think we should ever forget the message, which is that nobody is perfect, our government is flawed, optimism is not synonymous with complacency and we have a lot of work to do. Just like we need leaders, we need cynics.

You see. in 11th grade, my history teacher, the fantastic Ms. L, who was an early literary editor of The Nation, an ardent feminist and the first (and last?) real socialist I ever met, explained the Mexican government system by saying, “For example, RB could never be president of Mexico.”

The class was outraged-why had I been singled out and embarrassed like that? Why couldn’t I be president of Mexico?? (Weren’t kids who went to NYC private schools supposed to be able to do everything??)

Ms. L explained to me over coffee one morning (after someone else in our class approached her demanding an apology) that the reason I couldn’t be President of Mexico was because to be president of Mexico, you had to agree with everybody. However, I, RB, was a “contrarian.” I disagreed with everybody. Even if I actually agreed. I argued.

“It’s a good thing,” she told me. “Arguing is how change happens.” Obama knows that, that’s how he built his cabinet. So, in short, being even a little skeptical of this joyous occasion is a good thing. However, I do suggest being 100% joyous that Bush is out of the White House!!!


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