My post about the interracial harmony at the Earth Wind and Fire show at Summerfest seemed to strike a nerve with Rick Esenberg over at his Shark and Shepard blog. The good professor ignores my main theme, accuses me of making several others and generally misses the point. Well, at least I got his attention.
To say, as he does, that my primary takeaway from the event was "pride" that I didn’t "get mugged" is ridiculously simplistic and wrong. I didn’t expect anything but good to come of the night. My point was that the right-wingers on the radio and blogs (not necessarily Rick’s – like his eternal defense of the WMC, he takes on the defense of others, pro bono) would ignore such an interracial event unless something went horribly wrong. Then, we would hear all about it for days. All it would take is one shoulder-bump and angry glare at, say, Charlie Sykes or Mark Belling, if they were there, and it would lead to a week-long campaign of hand wringing and lectures about racism being understandable and black people getting what they deserve. As it was, no conflict, no story. Now, let’s beat up on Eugene Kane for defending the residents of N. 28th St. as victims and not purveyors of the violence in their own neighborhood.
It is "vainglorious", according to Rick, that I would revel in the beauty of those moments on the lakefront that brought us all together. "Dude, it was a concert," he scoffs. I didn’t get into it in the post, but the concert itself was just a notch above Vegas-pedestrian – for the most part, we carried the magic moments by playing the records in our heads. But, except for drawing us there, the music emanating from the stage had very little to do with it. The magic at the event was about us as people; as Milwaukeeans, for those of us who were. It was a family event – my kid, my brothers’ and friends’ kids, mingled with kids and adults from different backgrounds and we all came away with a nice glow of the shared experience.
It didn’t have anything to do with politics, except to the extent that the right-wing regularly politicizes racial division – the same politics of Fear played nationally by their Rovian counterparts. This was not an Obama rally, although it could have turned into one easily, with a little prompting from the stage. One of my friends who was there is a conservative big-shot at one of the major business law firms in town and the only thing controversial we got into was our relative waistlines. When I dismissed those who weren’t there and wouldn’t acknowledge the positive event if they were, I wasn’t talking about all conservatives – just those who exploit tragedy to inflame racial tension. There are thankfully few of them, but, unfortunately, they all have radio and blog platforms.
But, in the end, I think what really gets Rick is my "vainglorious" striving for a better world and my willingness to recognize it when I find it in small moments on a summer night at the lakefront. I still haven’t gotten an answer to the question I asked him yesterday in my comments: What is so funny about peace, love and understanding?