Is That A Monkey In Your Pocket?

by Amy Zidell
07.17.08 - Part III in a series analyzing, evaluating, and exploring the political and social implications of a 30 lb, 21 inch tall, gold-plated statue of Hindu monkey god, Hanuman, being sanctified and sent by a group in India to American presidential candidate Barack Obama. Parts I & II detail the background of this idol gift.

Now for a brief disclaimer: No offense or disrespect is intended to the Hindu faith or Hindu people. It's possible your feelings may be hurt if you are an uber rich megalomaniac buying peddling influence. If you don't see the validity and right to exist of interest groups that are counter to your personal interests, you may get riled up.

Of course, I'm riled up and that's what brings us to Special Interests number 3 on my list of serious campaign issues, the question "Is that a monkey in your pocket? touches on. The monkey question, raised by news reported in The Times of India: "The idol is being presented to Obama as he is reported to be a Lord Hanuman devotee and carries with him a locket of the monkey god along with other good luck charms."  A monkey locket in his pocket
  1. Special Interests
    So far, I've addressed Religion and Monkeys, Special Interests is an euphemistic moniker that changes it's meaning, positive or negative, depending on user perspective. During this presidential campaign, Barack emphatically made much about NOT taking money from lobbyists, as he does not want to be obliged to a particular group. Barack's Web Site prominently features this forward-thinking quote:

    • "I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists - and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."
      - Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA, November 10, 2007

    Barack stresses he does not want to be indebted to special interest groups. Does he include or exclude George Soros in that category? In any case, could his acceptance of this idol and a monkey locket in his pocket beholden Obama to a higher special interest group? Middle and Far East politics are complicated enough without Obama being possibly associated with one ism and therefore against another.

    We all know how much Barack loves change, which might explain his affinity for references to Special Interests and/or Special Interest Groups. A "Special Interest" can be either a benevolent or evil entity.

    I'll use extreme examples. The DAR - Daughters of the American Revolution is the non-profit, women's organization for the descendants of individuals who aided in achieving American independence. It's engaged in historic preservation and other charitable works.

    I think that by most American's sensibilities the DAR would be considered a benevolent Special Interest Group. I imagine that if you are a developer who wants to put a new major mall in a location that overlaps with a DAR identified landmark, you might view the DAR as annoying, or obstructionist.

    The National Socialist Movement aka the American Nazi Party, is a racist hate-mongering political organization.

    I think by most American's sensibilities the American Nazi Party would be consider an evil Special Interest Group. If you are a member of the ACLU, the American Nazi Party could be viewed in a positive light by providing an opportunity to defend the First Amendment.

    See change can be fun, and perhaps this example shows how change is something you can believe in even if individually the logic may be difficult to follow.

    Fundamentally, an Interest Group can be many things. I address this in my February 27, 2008 post, Almost Special. What makes a particular Interest Group special really has nothing more to do with it than if the group is especially important to you. We all have experienced this whether in a group, club, organization, or at work. When someone has a project, it is often, in their mind, the most important project in the world and they proceed as if it is the most important project in the world to everyone. Usually, it's not.

    When you agree with their purpose or agenda, a Special Interest group is great. When you disagree with them, they're awful. Describing something as a Special Interest or Special Interest Group doesn't make it more important or even more special. Pretentious, bloated, unimportant are words that come to mind. Let's not forget alternate uses of 'Special', which is not meant as special in the best way, as in 'the Special Bus,' or 'Blue-Plate Special.'  Interest Groups are just that - a group with an interest - and I believe they are important. Maybe they could be thought of like probiotics - beneficial bacteria.

    I wonder, what interests do you suppose are special to Barack?

    [ Previous Part I   |  Part II   |   You're reading Part III   | Part IV | |  Part V   |  Part VI   ]

    Here are public domain depictions of Hindu God, Hanuman:
      Serious Campaign Issues/Question List
      Is that a monkey in your pocket?
    1. √ Religion
    2. √Monkeys
    3. Special Interests
    4. Judgment
    5. Demographics
    6. Silliness

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