In this Sunday’s (December 7, 2008) New York Times, op-ed writers Caitlin Flanagan and Benjamin Schwarz quite pathetically attempt to excuse — or, explain away; you pick the rationale — the California black vote that went 70% for the most egregiously foul denial of basic civil and human rights to hit Golden State voting booths in at least my lifetime. Not since the reptilian Supreme Court Korematsu finding that supported the Manzanar concentration camp ten miles north of Lone Pine has the state been so stained.
Since the November 4 election, my ears have taken all the beating they can, listening to the howls of my African-American citizens that comparing the civil rights struggles of gays and lesbians and bi’s and the transgendered just do not equate with the long train of abuses suffered by America’s blacks.
SO NOT THE POINT!
While locked into writing something I search my soul for just the words and phraseology I want, to convey the thoughts I’m trying to get across. But not a word or phrase comes to mind, to adequately express the bitter outrage that fills my heart over Prop 8 . . . And especially as it concerns my black brothers and sisters.
Look! it’s very much akin to that most imbecilic suggestion, “I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” The message there is that, if you’re suffering a painful toothache, shut up: there are plenty of folk who have no teeth. Physical pain is physical pain. Suffering the abuse of civil injustice is suffering abuse. This is not some childish contest to see who has had it worse. This is only about what is right, and what isn’t.
The abrogation of someone’s human rights: It’s an absolute, like a criminal act, qua “criminal act”; an on-off switch, not a dimmer rheostat. An example might help illustrate the point. One fellow busts open his neighbor’s door, then pulls out a gun and splatters the brains of his neighbor across the living room wall. Somewhere else, someone else also busts open a neighbor’s front door, pulls a gun, and robs the place. A “crime” was committed in the first instance, and a “crime” was committed in the latter example. To employ the argument proffered by 70% of my African-American brothers and sisters, that the civil rights issue raised by members of the GLBT communities have not equivalency with the black experience in America, is to suggest that the criminal in the second example ought not to be pursued by the authorities because the crimes were not equivalent for sheer brutality. Or, to put it differently, because the occupant of the second house did not suffer quite as did the first, the second victim ought not to look to the authorities for justice.
That if you as a black person have some personal aversion to homosexuality ought to be wholly irrelevant to your endorsement of another’s civil rights. That it might make you feel icky, to even think about, is all the more reason you should have fought the ballot initiative, not supported it. Let’s go back a few years. Black was not always “beautiful.” And if you heard Don Imus . . . What was it Don called the girls that you and so many others took legitimate offense over, “Nappy-headed” what? Of course, none of us truly knows what was in Mr. Imus’ heart, whether he actually meant what he said, or whether he was just being generally offensive Don Imus. But the specifics of that do not matter. To this point, only the fact that a great many US residents (Notice I did not say Americans.) continue to feel about blacks, and Hispanics, and Asians, and gays, and lesbians, and . . . and . . . and . . .
And it’s all so dispiriting, to be faced with the truth that nearly one full decade into the 21st century such huge proportions of our population hasn’t yet found their way out of the 5th century. How to fathom some explanation, any explanation that approaches legitimacy? Here we have a genuine minority that has endured more than a few evil slings and arrows now on the same side as the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Catholic Church (Since 325, it has rarely — I say “rarely” on the statistical likelihood that at least once over the past one thousand, six hundred and eighty-three years it must have been in the forefront, advancing something socially constructive — conducted its affairs with an eye that wasn’t fixed on aggrandizing power and wealth to itself.), the Mormon Church (How long ago was it that LDS management even acknowledged blacks were not genetically and socially inferior???), and Erik Prince of Blackwater infamy.
Here I am, once again in California; Palm Springs, to be precise. And now I feel horrible unease — the very same welling-up-from-down-in-the-gut unease rush one feels en route to an unscheduled visit to the rim of the toilet bowl — when acquainting another person. Did he vote for Bush in 2004, GOP in 2006, and McCain-Palin last November? Did she vote ‘Yes’ on Prop 8? Whether that person did or did not, will not diminish my ardor for the universality of civil rights. It will however dramatically impede my acceptance of them as an acquaintance worthy of my egalitarian prejudice. And I really loathe those who did vote as described, for the reason I just described.