Friday, March 18, 2011

Zero Tolerance for Intolerance

A handful of high-profile, media "progressives," John Stewart and Stephen Colbert leading the pack, have been promoting a harmful ideology that proposes that any display of anger, passion or deep emotional engagement in political struggle is out of control, unbecoming, and essentially wrong. In their own words, it is "insane."This fallacy, illustrated by the Stewart/Colbert "rally to restore sanity" equates T-(yranny) Party wackos like Glen Beck and Sarah Palin and their impaired followers with leftist activists who are speaking out for the fair treatment workers, immigrants, LGBT, people of color, the disabled etc. and equates them with right-wingers who want to curb or eliminate civil rights.

In the LGBT community this tactic is obvious and particularly destructive, especially with the burgeoning renaissance of the "culture war." Obviously, queers are still a hot button hate issue for many in this country. Denying us access to marriage, medical coverage and an end to job discrimination on an across the board federal level is still a distant dream. The recent decision by the US Supreme Court that defended the rights Fred Phelps to allow his hateful army of imbeciles to bring their disgusting signs to funerals of gay people is an interesting example.  While I acknowledge that the erosion of the right of free speech is a slippery slope, I do wonder what the decision might have been if the roles were reversed and queers were seeking the right to harass and intimidate them. Although these Baptist Bullies have the right to appear with their signs, their ignorance should not be accepted on any level or equated with our protests on the other side. There should be zero tolerance for intolerance. Free speech is one issue, but the war against LGBT folks, women immigrants, people of color, the working class is real and tangible and should not be "tolerated" on any level.

Obama, who has recently stirred a bit from his long, winter's nap, in eliminating Don't Ask Don't tell and instructing his administration's justice department to cease its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. We know that the amount of ambivalence with which he approaches the LGBT rights struggle is considerable. His erratic belief system that supports civil unions, but not marriage, hospital visitation but not full health insurance for partners, opens a window on his contradictory and muddled thinking. Is he in the process of re-evaluating his personal web of sophistry. A little dose of equality is like being declared partially dead. Either you are or you are not. At this point we have to put our faith in that long arc of the universe which will eventually be bending in our direction.