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Prop 8: Leonce Gaiter weighs in

We’ve already talked some about Proposition 8 in CA.  In case you’ve been completely out of touch, this is the proposition on the ballot that would eliminate same-sex marriage in the state of California.  One of my favorite bloggers at HuffPo, Leonce Gaiter, has weighed in on the subject, wondering why African Americans are polling with a strong level of support for the measure.

According to a SurveyUSA poll, 58% of black voters support Proposition 8, which would enshrine irrational fear and rank bigotry into the California Constitution in order to deny gays the right to marry. Black support is 10% higher than support of any other ethnic group. This is ironic, considering that in striking down the law banning same sex marriage, the California Supreme Court cited the landmark 1967 civil rights case Loving vs. Virginia that struck down the prohibition of interracial marriage.

A majority of California’s voting African-Americans seem blind to that irony, however. They see no kinship to their own past as a reviled minority whose sexual touch toward a single white man or woman would sully the entire “race” of American whites–just as legally sanctioning the sexual touch of same sex partners would so sully heterosexuals’ unions that they will… what? Seek immediate divorce? Abandon their children to the streets? Suffer mass orgasmic dysfunction?

58% of the black voting population sees no irony in accepting a “separate but equal” status for gays despite the fact that the Supreme Court freed us from just such subjugation with Brown vs. Board of Education; without it we would still be classifiable as second class citizens.

We see no slippery slope in enshrining hatred and bigotry against a specific group into our ruling document–our California Constitution. If we can enshrine the second-class citizenship of gays with respect to marriage, why not the second-class citizenship of blacks with respect to education, or Hispanics with respect to citizenship itself? Someone will always hate you with equal vociferousness to your hate for someone else. It’s simply a matter of convincing enough to do so–as has been done in convincing 58% of blacks to support the same kind of irrational hatred that kept us in figurative shackles for most of the last century.

There’s more and I hope you’ll read it.

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Leonce Gaiter on McCain: The man was a punchline

Y’all know how much I love Leonce Gaiter’s work.  His post over at HuffPo this morning, a comment on the final debate, does not disappoint.  Here’s the first paragraph:

In the final debate, McCain was Presidential. Only the President was Nixon. The man behaved like an bitter, petulant child. He was righteously pissy throughout the evening. He was trembling. He was in a flop sweat of desperation. He obviously wanted tough but achieved the titanically silly–like your doddy old grandpa grumbling about political pet peeves. His thought process was rambling and ragged. When not speaking, he wore the shit-eating grin of a truly smug asshole. The man was a punchline.

McCain had a couple of truly bad moments in the evening, but here’s one that has been completely overlooked, as far as I can tell:  he suggested that veterans involved in the troops-to-teachers program shouldn’t have to worry with training or certification.  I can tell your stories of career military officers who went into classrooms and reflected that teaching was the hardest job they ever had.  That one moment showed, to me, that McCain was not only titanically silly, but titanically myopic.  Military service is to be honored and military training is excellent, but it does not serve as a stand in for training in every other profession.  McCain would never suggest (I hope) that a veteran could be a doctor without training.  He should not suggest the same about teaching.

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Differing views on the Obama VP texting tease

Unless you’ve been living under that boulder we mention every now and then, you know that yesterday, David Plouffe and the Obama campaign sent out an email telling supporters that they could “Be the First to Know” who Obama picks as VP via email or text message.  As Plouffe said in the email, “No other campaign has done this before.”

On HuffPo, two columnist are presenting differing views on this.  Leonce Gaiter, who I love, as you know if you’ve read this blog for very long, thinks this gimmick could backfire.  His view is that this sort of fresh tech methodology has too much of a “reality TV vibe” that plays into the all flash – no substance attack the McCain campaign is making against Obama.  With the full disclosure that I sent my text to 62262 to be on the list for the VP announcement, I will admit to nodding in agreement to Gaiter’s post.  Gaiter is convincing, accusing the Obama campaing of “turning the VP selection process into an ‘American Idol’ moment.”  It is his viewpoint that the McCain audience, “middle-aged and older minds,” will see this as nothing more than a celebrity stunt that cheapens the entire process and, by extension, the campaign and the candidate.

Simultaneously, HuffPo is carrying a post by Sarah Granger called “VP 2 B …”  Granger takes the opposite view, pointing out that Obama is following a developing trend in political campaigns of taking advantage of the growing texting culture.  Granger, too, sent her text to 62262.  She and I had different experiences.  It took her 95 minutes to receive her reply text from the campaign, verifying that she would, indeed, “be one of the first notified” of the VP selection.  I, however, received my message almost instantaneously.  I was probably a little late to the party, having ceded my laptop to my four year old for hours to play Ben Ten Alien Force at Cartoon Network.  (Don’t call social services.  I’m trying to survive living in a hotel room with two kids for two weeks.)  Granger points to her lag, however, as evidence that this gimmick of emailing or texting supporters may be just that, noting that recent emails and texts to supporters with “news” have, indeed, suffered from a lag post-media announcement, making them no more than confirmation of news already reported.  Granger still thinks that this was a “smart move” from a technologically savvy campaign that did, after all, begin on the ‘net.  Obama’s core of support, after all, has always been the youth movement and it is this core that will respond very favorably to this kind of methodology. 

In the end, I think Gaiter and Granger could both be right.  The older generation(s) will probably roll their eyes at this kind of gimmick.  But I cannot imagine that it would be impactful enough to change anyone’s vote.  If a voter were to get severely worked up over this kind of thing, I can’t see how she could be on the Obama train to begin with.  On the plus side, it is the kind of technology innovation in campaigning that will turn on Obama’s core supporters.  Sure, the news may break on outside sources or even in my inbox before I get it via text.  But there is something seemingly personal about a text message that still makes it cool. 

Wherever you come down on the gimmick, itself, there’s no denying that it has created a buzz surrounding the VP selection, a buzz which may not exist in the middle of Olympics-mania and the Russia / Georgia “conflict.”  And for that, alone, perhaps it was a very smart move.


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More on patriotism

Sometimes the best I can do for y’all is to send you somewhere else.  This is one of those times.  Please, please, please go over to HuffPo and read The African American Patriotism Quandry by Leonce Gaiter.  Here’s a tease to whet your appetite:

Imagine you were born where you and your parents did not have the rights of most, in which you witnessed the majority laugh at coon-faced parodies of people like you, in which your young self knew that the majority of your countrymen did not consider you quite as human as they were, and felt justified in treating you accordingly. It leaves a scar. It’s a scar many Americans don’t want to see, so they attack those like Michelle Obama who draw attention to it. They call it “grievance.” In fact, it’s just history–yours and mine. There are other scars in America’s history, but few that are treated with such revulsion.

Yeah, it’s all that good and you really need to go read it.

I have a strange relationship with patriotism.  I distrust the form of patriotism that shields itself behind flags stuck in front yard grass and weeping eyes staring at Old Glory during some (undeniably) horrendous version of the national anthem at a sporting event.  I have no issues with getting weepy at the sound of “the rockets red glare,” but I am cynical enough to doubt that those tears normally belie anything deeper than a superficial love of Mama, God, and country.  True patriots should be more willing to burn that flag than to post it in their yard.  True patriots should be fighting to keep God out of schools and, thus, protecting the Constitution.  True patriots should see the other man’s Mama in his eyes and that, if nothing else, should keep them from hate.   

Obama gave a speech on patriotism today.  Here is, perhaps, my favorite excerpt:

As Mark Twain, that greatest of American satirists and proud son of Missouri, once wrote, “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” We may hope that our leaders and our government stand up for our ideals, and there are many times in our history when that’s occurred. But when our laws, our leaders or our government are out of alignment with our ideals, then the dissent of ordinary Americans may prove to be one of the truest expression of patriotism.

This is why voting is patriotic, folks.  Certainly, mass dissent has proved extremely effective in helping to alter failed practice and policy in our country.  But it is the power of the vote that gives us a consistent tool to show our satisfaction or lack thereof in the direction our government is heading. 

When Bush (the dubyah variety) was elected to his second term, I was living overseas.  I sent in my absentee ballot and prayed, hard, that Americans would not be dumb enough to give him a second term.  I was wrong.  Collective insanity held sway and we, the people, elected him to a second term.  My gut instinct was to stay overseas and never come back to a country so obviously lost in its own propaganda.  But my form of patriotism took over and I began dissenting:  writing, talking, working to bring about a sea change in politics.  We’re on the doorstep.  We just have to use those votes, exercise our patriotism, show our dissatisfation with the status quo, dissent. 

I can never understand Leonce Gaiter’s perspective on patriotism, no matter how hard I try (and you know I will).  All I know for sure is that those who blindly follow and never question cannot call themselves true patriots.  Patriotism requires us to evaluate, to question, to call into account our government and to take action when it we find it lacking.  The least you can do is vote.  To register, visit Rock The Vote.   


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