In his bestselling book God, Guns, Grits and Gravy, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee writes, "Have I been taken to a different planet than the one on which I grew up?"
Yessiree, Governor Huckabee, I believe you have. This one is called Earth, and our little corner is called the United States of America. What a week for our Earth, the United States and its recent immigrant Mike Huckabee!
Welcome! Pope Francis mounted a loving, progressive defense of your new planet; the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the socialist healthcare plan bearing the name of the Muslim non-citizen occupant of the White House; fair housing laws were spared a needless gutting; the Confederate battle flag is losing currency faster than Sarah Palin; and gay folks can marry anywhere in the United States. Quite a change from your birthplace in Hope, Arkansas, where you honed your evangelical scythe and "aw-shucks" version of hate politics.
While my appetite was not ravenous enough to read your whole book, I've seen sufficient interviews and read enough reviews to get the gist. You sought to represent flyover America, the vast heartland between the two effete coasts. In your heartland, men are men and women know their place. A loving (albeit selectively so) God is still calling the shots, and the right to bear arms is divine. These things do indeed differentiate your old planet from the one you've landed on.
As to grits and gravy? Not so much. A Vermonter at heart (it's my former and future home), I must say that your grits and gravy have nothing on us. In Vermont, where civil unions became law before gay rights became fashionable and where folks know that "socialism" is really a euphemism for "democracy," we have Poutine. Poutine is French fries, brown gravy, cheese curds and, if you're lucky, some sausage or foie gras (for the effete among us). Poutine makes grits and gravy seem like Raisin Bran. I point this out only so you and other conservatives can't stake a partisan claim on ridiculously unhealthy food.
But I come to welcome you and your ideological kin to your new planet, not to gloat. We progressives are inclusive by nature. I know that acclimation can take a while. We can be patient. Perhaps I can offer a few travel tips:
On this planet, we learned a long time ago that gay folks weren't scary and don't really care about having sex with us straight folks. We read a bit of science and learned that homosexuality is as natural as grits made from organic corn. And when our eyes were opened, we found out, to our astonishment, that many of our brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, neighbors and friends, were homosexual. Who knew?
Here, on your new planet, many folks like their guns too. You should feel right at home! But we don't see them as appendages that define our values or our relationships with each other. They're just dangerous tools that should be kept out of the hands of children and other people who won't use them safely. We're willing to regulate them like we do automobiles, accepting a small inconvenience for the imperfect aspiration of keeping everybody a little bit safer.
Lots of us also love our God. Mine is a lowercase god I think of as a loving spirit, but lots of women and men on your new planet love the same uppercase God you worship. But most of us think religion is a private matter, not a public policy. Most of us think the Bible is instructive but not to be taken too seriously. As my old friend, the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., used to say, "You can't take the Bible seriously if you take it literally." He took the Bible very, very seriously -- perhaps even more seriously than you do -- and was a committed supporter of gay marriage.
I've spent some time on your old planet. I lived for a year in rural Georgia (where the grits are indeed really good!). I watched black friends hide indoors when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated because they knew it was not a hospitable planet for anyone with their skin color. I had a gay friend who had to pretend he loved country music so that he wouldn't be too suspicious. Talk about sacrifice! But I digress.
I recently wrote one blog post on that Confederate flag, and another on guns. Most of the hundreds of comments were really angry. On your old planet, Governor Huckabee, it seems a lot of folks have a short fuse. When I see the reactions to the affirmation of Obamacare, the response to calls for the Confederate flag to come down, and hateful comments about gay marriage, I worry for our country. It's clear that we have really pissed some people off. That's too bad. We didn't mean to do that.
Perhaps if you spend more time here, you won't feel anger or incite it in others. All we want is for all of our family members, friends and neighbors to have decent health care. We want the Confederate flag to come down so that no person has to feel excluded or intimidated, even if some folks believe the flag only represents proud Dixie heritage.
On our planet, we wish to live under the flag of the United States of America, the flag that promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for every citizen -- black, white, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, transgender and every other variation of our fascinating species.
I think you'll love it here, if you open your mind and heart.
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