When my wife and I were back in the Midwest recently, I came down with a bad case of the “Yes, but.”
No, Midwest delicacies like cheese curds and sausage bread (not as bad as it sounds) didn’t make me ill. No, the cool weather blowing in from Lake Michigan didn’t bring on a cold.
It was the news that gave me the Yes, But.
I first noticed it when I read and watched all the controversy about the Confederate flag. Of course, no state Capitol should be flying that flag: no state should have it as part of the state flag. No matter what some think it stands for, it is clear that this flag also represents maybe the worst of our history, the time when we killed and enslaved millions of blacks.
So, yes, hooray for those who pressured governors and others to remove the flag.
Removing that flag is at best symbolic and at worst a cover. A feel-good cover to have us pretend that with its removal, somehow racism is diminished.
And maybe it will be. But not right now. Witness the six black church burnings in the last week, at least three of which are confirmed arson cases. From Tennesssee through Georgia, someone torched black churches.
Now, maybe it has nothing to do with Charleston and the flag. But the South has had an ugly record of church burnings over the last century.
No, racism will not be eradicated by simply taking down a flag. In fact, it can’t be ever eliminated. But we can condemn it whenever it arises and criticize those politicians who get a little to cozy with its practioners.
The Yes, But continued with the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare.
Yes, the 6-3 ruling in favor of it will continue to provide coverage for millions who otherwise wouldn’t have it. And yes, by enrolling enough younger and healthier Americans, Obamacare nibbles around the edges of cost containment.
Obamacare has, possibly, slowed the increase in health care costs, but they are still rising. And we know many, even with insurance, who lose their savings and go into bankruptcy because of one major illness.
So long as we have wildly divergent costs in hospitals and for drugs, our health care costs will continue to rise faster than any other country in the developed world. But Obamacare doesn’t address that. Nor does it rein in the often pernicious malpractice costs.
So, yes, it was a good day for Americans who rely on Obamacare, but we still have a long way to go in making health care affordable.
My final bout of Yes, But came because of the Court ruling on gay marriage.
Yes, it was a great victory for Americans who believe in equal treatment under the law, who believe that a loving gay couple deserves the same rights as any heterosexual couple, who believe that gay marriage in no way intrudes on heterosexual marriage. And who reject the scare tactics of the Cathi Herrods and Mike Huckabees of the country.
Here’s what I wonder: Where will the ruling lead? A scenario I’ve thought about troubles me. And maybe it’s one that doesn’t exist, so maybe my concern is unfounded.
But I wonder.
So let’s say a conservative Christian church doesn’t perform gay weddings, as this ruling allows them (remember, the ruling says states must allow gay marriage, not churches). And at the same time, this church performs a great public service by providing a homeless shelter or a battered family shelter or a preschool for poor kids, or a breakfast program for the poor. And let’s say that this church does these good deeds in partnership with a city like Tempe, which provides some funding to the church.
Does the Court ruling, then, lead to Tempe pulling its funding, resulting in the program dying?
I don’t know. Obviously I’m no expert on any of this, so my conjecture here might be worthless, but I worry that good people of conscience who provide great services to the most vulnerable might be penalized for their sincerely held beliefs. And in penalizing them, we could be hurting the very folks we all want to help.
So, yes to gay marriage but a question as to where the ruling could lead.
I guess my case of Yes, But will linger awhile, considering what brought it on. None of these will be resolved anytime soon, but I do believe that thoughtful people of good will, absent the opportunistic politicians and media types, can move our country forward.
• Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.