Saturday, September 30, 2006

Forgive Me, Myself

Ever thoughtful Mark D. Snyder (activist and QueerToday blogger) sent me clicking with his comment on a Dianne Wilkerson post. As many in the gay-rights and other lefty communities, he is conflicted about the senator's personal life weighed against her accomplishments. He suggested reading another view -- the religion column in InNewsweekly by Rev. Irene Moore.

We did and pass along the suggestion. Her view is a very different angle.

Disclaimer: I was raised as a Protestant Christian.

Disclaimer 2: I'll try to make this my last Wilkerson-related post. Do check out the long, anonymous supporting comment on her on my previous post on the troubled senator.

The cultural and religious issues that insinuate themselves into the civics and politics of Second Suffolk Senator Dianne Wilkerson are pervasive. Many voters, including me, have long appreciated her support for such issues as red-lining mortgages and particularly for equal rights for all.

Yet, it has been the position here in numerous posts (including here) that Wilkerson's criminal history and ethical lapses have far exceeded her allowance. They must be such distractions that we question her ability to stay on task and continue to deliver for constituents.

A Crook?

She brings then President Richard Nixon to mind when he told the nation, "People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook."

To hear her tell it, her good votes are all you need to know about her. Shut up and sit down. At the pre-primary Democratic-Party forum in JP, Wilkerson even showed such hubris as to claim, if you added up everything all the other legislators had done, it "wouldn't equal half of what I have done."

Cut us a thin, very thin, slice of that one, Dianne. It may be time for an ego-ectomy.

A Martyr?

Rev. Monroe not only agrees with Dianne's judgments of her worth, she brings in God issues (hey, it's a religion column). She suggests that folk just want to hold down the uppity Black woman.

She rips into Chang-Diaz' calls for an anti-Nixon ethical senator. For example:
Faith, however, is neither what needs to be restored in Wilkerson's voters nor what Wilkerson lacks. Her voters know the spiritual place Wilkerson operates from, where she starts her day and what motivates her. "It's their faith in me, and my faith in God, why I feel blessed coming to work," Wilkerson told me this week. Trained as a civil rights lawyer, Wilkerson sees herself as a public servant. "I'm not here for me, I'm here for the people," Wilkerson added. And her legislative record and public voice speak for themselves.
We don't know anyone, even competing candidates for the seat who deny Wilkerson's legislative record. So, a question includes whether people can continue to trust her if she doesn't file her taxes while they do, apparently takes campaign funds she should not for personal use, doesn't pay her condo fees as they must, and maybe even lies under oath.

Rev. Monroe writes that Chang-Diaz' bringing these up in the campaign is "mudslinging." She even abuses poet Maya Angelou's words by hauling out "You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I'll rise."

So when verifiable truths becomes "twisted lies," how is that serving any of us?

Not so oddly, Wilkerson's base of Black voters in Roxbury supported her strongly at the polls. In her typical fashion, she used this as proof that she was communicating well with and serving them better, no best.

Yet as Bay Windows reports, Wilkerson did not do as well among Latinos and whites. Also, she seemingly split the GLBT vote with Chang-Diaz and lost swatches of JP and the South End. She seems to have abused ethics too long for many.

Rev. Monroe quotes an unnamed Wilkerson supporter as, "Wilkerson has based her life on equality, equity, justice and fairness, also tenets of the bible, so her life and her life's work go hand in hand with her spirituality."


We saw that, in its perverted way, when Wilkerson gave her apology -- in the classical sense of defense -- at the party forum. "I'm not perfect," she said. "I'm a work in progress." The undercurrent there was clearly that she was just like the voters, all too human.

So, after Mark drew Rev. Monroe's column to my attention, I read it and let it sit. Overnight, I had my own little epiphany as a result.

Wilkerson has twisted an essential Christian principle and belief, that forgiveness is for Jesus. Sinners need to seek it and change. By freely forgiving herself for all transgressions, or at least the ones she's caught and found guilty of, she is taking that authority so precious to practicing Christians for herself. Moreover, as far as voters, her legislative peers and law-enforcement officials are concerned, she has no reason to alter her behavior. She is, after all and above all, a work in progress.

To the rest of us with greater control over our impulses, work in progress includes the work. Dianne needs to show us that she's working on it, not just waiting to get caught and forgive herself again.

How about starting with two years without federal or state indictments? How about paying her multi-thousand dollar condo bills or moving out? How about coming to terms with and straightening out the allegations of perjury in her testimony on that murder appeal of her nephew? How about fully explaining or returning those questionable campaign-fund disbursements? And on and on and on.

I disagree with Wilkerson on her being perpetually blameless for her sins and crimes. I disagree with the column on her that it is unfair to call her on her repeated breaches of trust, honor and honesty.

She stands at the most important fork in her road today. She can continue down her old path or suddenly (and unlikely) act right.

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1 comment:

Ryan said...

When faced with a bigot or a crook who happens to stand for progressive issues, I'll probably take the crook.

When faced with a crook or an honest politician who happens to stand for progressive issues, I'll take the honest politician.

Wilkerson won her race, but there was an honest politician who was right on the issues that challenged her. I'd have given the honest politician a shot had I been eligible to vote in that district.