Republicans in Georgia repeatedly use the same word to describe Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock: radical. What is so “radical” about wanting people to have health insurance, especially people with preexisting conditions? Nothing. They are much more concerned about Israel, which has little, if anything, to do with the crises our nation is currently facing. Soon-to-be-former vice president Mike Pence traveled to Georgia to claim that “radical liberal Raphael Warnock demeaned our military” and “defended the antisemitic rhetoric of Reverend Jeremiah Wright,” according to the Independent. As CNN reported, Warnock learned his “radical” ways from his father, Jonathan Warnock, and this relationship shows just how little Republicans know about this “radical.”
Jonathan Warnock volunteered to fight in World War II in a time when he had no rights in his own country. Returning home from the war, Warnock flew an American flag at his home, had portraits of the U.S. presidents on his wall, and required his church members to recite the Pledge of Allegiance prior to worship every Sunday. Even as Warnock returned from war, riding a bus to his hometown of Savannah in his uniform, he was asked to move from his seat so that a White teenager could sit. While the realities of “Jim Crow” were hurtful to a man who had just risked his life for a country that did not respect him, he kept souvenirs like “for whites only” signs to teach his children to fight for their rights. Discrimination did not dissipate Warnock’s love for his country. As the CNN piece shared, Warnock, like most Blacks during that time, “had to find a way to love a country that didn’t always love him back.” He found his solace in the lessons learned through the poetry of Langston Hughes, viewing America as “the land that never has been yet—and yet must be—the land where every man is free.” For him, protests were as patriotic as standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, making him a “radical” in his own right.
Not that he must explain himself, but when Loeffler and others accuse him of “siding with hate” for supporting Jeremiah Wright Jr.’s “God damn America” speech, Warnock said, quite simply, that people (especially white people — author’s addition) fail to understand the difference between moral outrage and hate and that he has “spent his whole career standing up against bigotry.” His faith may well be radical to some — including his pro-choice stance — but who Warnock is reflects the father by whom he was raised, and there is nothing wrong with that, especially considering that he follows in the footsteps of another famous preacher who was considered a radical, Dr. Martin Luther King.
It is vital that we get Warnock to Washington. Republicans continue to try to cripple President Elect Biden’s plans to restore the economy, showing what they really think of the American people. If the “radicalism” displayed by Reverend Raphael Warnock is what we can expect of him in Washington, then by all means, let us be led by radicals.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years