The Way we Live Now, Questions for Lenora Fulani; Odd Bedfellows

The Way we Live Now, Questions for Lenora Fulani; Odd Bedfellows
Dr. Lenora Fulani

Q: Most people looking at you and Buchanan would probably think, How does such an odd couple manage to get along?

As a person, first of all, I don’t dislike Pat. I wish him well. Just not in the Reform Party. It’s not like we spent hours together. We came together out of politics and that’s what we did. What we agreed to is that he run on the issue of political reform. There were these factions, and I asked that he not cave in to any one, and unfortunately that was one of the things he didn’t carry out.

Why endorse him in the first place?

Well, I’ve been working for the last two decades basically to build a third party. I support a lot of Pat’s economic and trade-policy issues. And I actually think it was quite a coup for the Reform Party to have gotten someone of his stature. The party got more coverage in the last seven months than we have in the history of independent politics, since I’ve been involved in it. I didn’t see Buchanan, and I still don’t, as a racist or anti-Semite. If I did, I wouldn’t work with him. He’s a social conservative. There are millions of social conservatives in this country, and I don’t think that they’re devils; I think that they’re people who have a different position than I do.

But Buchanan, position-wise, is antigay, for example.

I agree. So, basically, was my grandmother. And as I’ve said to the gay community and the black community, at some point we have to stop talking to each other, and ourselves, and reach out to people whose views we don’t agree with.

What do you think are the pros and cons of Hillary Clinton as a political candidate. . . . Did I say something funny?

I’m just trying to think of the pros. I guess I have more of a relationship to the negatives. Obviously, I’m trying to move beyond the two-party system, so who it is almost doesn’t matter. But in the dialogue between her campaign and the Reform and Independence parties, she basically wanted to dictate the terms about running on our line. When she realized that her undemocratic terms were not going to go down, she literally set out to make the party radioactive. Basically, she called me an extremist and an anti-Semite. And I think that’s how liberals, quite frankly, get away with being racist toward the black community. And by the way, I’m not an anti-Semite.

Though I would say some of your associates, Louis Farrakhan, for example, are anti-Semitic.

I don’t think he is.

Well, there we disagree. You’re a developmental psychologist, but not practicing, right?

I’m trained in social therapy, and I practiced for about seven years. But then I started running for president, and that kind of thing.

One thing frequently noted about Fred Newman, whom you’ve described as your mentor, is that he sees nothing wrong in sleeping with patients. Is that correct?

What he’s challenging there is the traditional assumption of how therapy works, that there has to be some distance in order for it to be helpful. And we disagree with that, not just from the vantage point of whether or not you can sleep with somebody you’re doing therapy with, but also just in how close and how open you can be. It just gets sensationalized.

But I would say that when it comes to sex, the potential for abuse is greater than the potential for benefit, in that circumstance. O.K. So, heard any good jokes recently?

Actually, a cabdriver told me this very gross joke, but I blocked it out. It was from some radio show that’s knocked Howard Stern out of his place, evidently.

Another third-party possibility, Howard Stern. He was going to run as a Libertarian.

But he backed out. They would have gotten ballot status, at least.

Again, at what price, you have to ask.

But don’t you think that’s a very privileged question? It’s loaded with assumptions. Like when you asked me about Buchanan, basically you’re saying, ”Would you run with the devil?” And the answer is no. We just have different notions of who and what the devil is. Buchanan talks to the white working-class communities in ways that I’m used to black men talking to the black working-class communities. You appeal to some of the most base instincts.

I’d love to do it through labor, but it’s not as if labor is jumping to get on board the independent movement. That’s why I think your question is privileged. You have to do it with who steps out to do it with you. — Mim Udovitch

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