When I was starting my freshman year at Centre, the spectacle at the end of orientation was a performance by a hypnotist and prestidigitator, whose name sadly has escaped me. One of his tricks was to take a group of volunteers and first convince them that a strip of cloth, gauzy and red, was the funniest thing they'd ever seen, and its black counterpart was the most disgusting thing they'd ever seen.
He presented them with the red cloth, and they laughed and stomped and clapped and made a joyful noise. While they were thus occupied, he handed it to one of the girls in the group, and closed her fist over it firmly; as the laughter died down, he told the girl to open her hand.
In her palm was the black cloth. The laughter died into an embarrassed silence. Mute, the girl, her fingers stretched flat, tipped her hand slowly until the black cloth slipped off and drifted to the stage.
And so, while I am overjoyed and glad that Barack Obama has invited Aretha Franklin, Itzak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, and the poet Elizabeth Alexander to perform at his inauguration, to say nothing of the legendary Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, amid all this joyful noise is a man we may very well regard as the most disgusting thing we have ever seen. Rick Warren has glibly recited the "abortion is the New Holocaust" meme; he supported Proposition 8; he called for the assassination of Ahmedinijad; and he doesn't seem to be bothered to be seen with someone (Barack Obama) he recently likened to a Nazi. This is a man who deserves to be tipped disgustedly to the floor amid deafening silence.
By no means do I want to kill the joyful noise over Alexander, Ma, Franklin, Perlman, and Lowery, nor over Barack Obama himself. But I find all my joy evaporates, and my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth, when I consider that among their number is Rick Warren. When the crowd cheers for any of the others, will he mistake the accolades for his due?
Above all else, I am still left to wonder: Why, Obama, why?