Tag Archives: black Americans

Notes on the mess in Ferguson

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A screen grab (above) from a video apparently showing Michael Brown roughing up a convenience store clerk on the date of Brown’s shooting death by a white police officer apparently belies the idea of Brown having been a gentle giant, at least on the day of his death, but of course the unarmed Brown didn’t deserve to die for allegedly having stolen cigarillos. And law enforcement officers need to adopt non-lethal means of subduing subjects they deem dangerous or possibly dangerous, and of course we have way too many white cops shooting unarmed black men. All of that said, though, shit like torching police cars, as was done in Ferguson, Mo., last night (see news photo below), accomplishes exactly nothing.

A man runs from a police car that is set on fire after a group of protesters vandalize the vehicle after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Associated Press photo

I’ve yet to write about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., for several reasons, including the fact that I wanted to wait for things to play out and the fact, to be honest, that I’ve been Fergusoned out, much like I’ve been Benghazi’d out. Not to compare the two (one is an event that is a symptom of our broad and deep societal ills, and the other a comparative non-event drummed up by the right wing), but because the sensationalist media have beaten both into the ground.

First: Let’s acknowledge, as taboo as it is to do so (on the left, anyway), that Michael Brown apparently was no angel. There very apparently is surveillance video, for fuck’s sake, of the 6-foot-4-inch, almost 300-pound 18-year-old (whose nickname apparently was “Big Mike”) very apparently roughing up a convenience store clerk on the day that he later was shot and killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson (that day was August 9), and Wilson has claimed that when he encountered Brown, Brown had a handful of cigarillos that he’d apparently stolen from the convenience store.

(Whether this is true or whether Wilson was lying in an attempt to retroactively “justify” his shooting of Brown by trying to link Brown to a crime that Wilson has claimed he had been aware of is quite in dispute. [It seems to me that it’s quite possible that Wilson had had no knowledge of the convenience-store robbery before he encountered Brown on that fateful day in August, and if memory serves, early news reports [such as this one] indeed were that Wilson had not known about the convenience-store robbery when he encountered Brown.])

I’m no angel myself, but the exact number of times that I’ve roughed up a convenience store clerk while stealing from him is, um, zero. As there not only is surveillance video, but as Michael Brown’s companion on that fateful day, Dorian Johnson, apparently also has testified that Brown committed the convenience-store robbery (to Johnson’s surprise), that Brown committed the crime is, methinks, fairly indisputable, and it is not “character assassination” to divulge unflattering facts about Brown’s unflattering actions on that day, as Brown’s defenders have alleged. Brown’s character, at least as it was on that particular day, it seems to me, rather speaks for itself. On that day, anyway, very apparently, Brown was no gentle giant.

But: Did Michael Brown deserve to get capped, even if he had committed a crime? Brown was unarmed, and photos of Darren Wilson’s “injuries” allegedly caused by Brown show only some red marks (maybe one light facial bruise) that appear as though they even could have been pre-existing. (Wilson, by the way, is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighs around 210 pounds and is 28 years old.)

The fact that it’s verging on the year 2015 and despite all of our technological advances we still have no widely used non-lethal way of effectively subduing those whom law enforcement officers deem need to be subdued is testament to what degree life (especially non-white life) is considered to be cheap here in the United States of America.

Sure, we have Tasers, but those are good for only a limited range, and whenever cops claim, correctly or incorrectly, truthfully or untruthfully, that they feared for their lives, they don’t use Tasers or the like, but they use live rounds. With all of our technological advances, why do we allow this beyond-sorry state of affairs to continue? Why don’t we care enough to force the cops to change their tactics?

And, of course, it’s inarguable that black men are treated as automatically guilty by many if not even most white cops, who often act as judge, jury and even executioner, and that cops disproportionately are white males, like Darren Wilson.

It’s also inarguable that Ferguson is just the tip of the iceberg. The main function of cops is to protect the socioeconomic interests of the plutocrats, the ruling elite. Cops serve and protect, all right, but whom do they serve and protect? Cops are tools of the elite, whether the cops know this or not, and whether the cops even care if they do know this.

So there is that dynamic that’s baked into the socioeconomic dynamics of the United States, as well as is the dynamic of institutionalized racism.

That said, while institutionalized racism rages on, we still must view every incident as an incident, with its unique details and factors and with its unique, individual actors, and we have to be careful not to allow individuals to become standard-bearers or stand-ins for our own views on race.

Just as Michael Brown apparently was no angel, I’m sure that Darren Wilson is no angel, either, and so to see black Americans portray Brown as what he apparently wasn’t (an innocent angel) and to see white Americans portray Wilson as what he probably isn’t (a “hero” who was just doing his job and protecting himself from a dangerous thug) has been disappointing, to put it mildly, because this is much more about sticking up for one’s own race than it is about any respect for the truth.

Indeed, the Ferguson case has been turned into a race war, in which Brown has been the proxy for black Americans and Wilson the proxy for white Americans – to the point that the grand jury’s decision, to many if not most Americans, apparently was supposed to go far, far beyond the very specific events surrounding Wilson’s shooting of Brown on August 9 in Ferguson, and was supposed to be a decision, a judgment, on whether or not American cops (most of them white) on the whole treat black American males unjustly, or even, more broadly, on whether or not the United States still has problems with racism.

That’s an understandable misunderstanding, I suppose, but it is a huge misunderstanding of the purpose of the grand jury nonetheless.

There was or there was not enough evidence to show that Wilson, in his capacity as a law enforcement officer, probably illegally shot Brown. (If the laws governing this question are fucked, that’s something else, and if the laws are fucked [and they are], then we need to change the laws.) That, however, was what the grand jury was to have decided: whether or not Wilson probably violated the letter of the law. That was the only job of the grand jury, and it was a narrow job.

And neither you nor I was there when Wilson shot Brown, which is another reason that I’ve yet to write about Ferguson until now: Most of us have an opinion on an event that we didn’t even witness, and for which we have only significantly different claims from different parties as to what did (and did not) transpire. Lacking that specific information, we fill the vacuum with our own opinions and prejudices and our biases that stem primarily from our own racial-group identity. Which is a sort of mob mentality.

Speaking of which, lobbing rocks and bricks and bottles and Molotov cocktails and smashing store-front windows and setting cars and buildings ablaze, while perhaps loads of fun for the participants, doesn’t do anything, that I can tell, to even begin to change the entrenched socioeconomic ills that plague the nation, the socioeconomic ills that are behind Michael Brown’s death.

I’m not staunchly against the use of violence as a political tactic – the plutocrats, our overlords, certainly never rule out the use of violence against us commoners, so we commoners never should rule out the use of violence against our plutocratic overlords, either – but violence, if used, should be strategic and it should get results. I don’t see that vandalizing store fronts and blocking roads and even setting businesses and other buildings and cars, including cop cars, ablaze do anything to even begin to change our corrupt system.

While the sources of the rage that induce individuals to take it to the streets are entirely understandable – those sources include institutionalized racism, ridiculous socioeconomic inequality from an economic system (capitalism) that is all about screwing others over for one’s own selfish gain, and the police state that we live under that protects and preserves this ridiculous socioeconomic inequality and institutionalized racism – again, I don’t see that the tactics that most of the enraged use on the streets actually are effective in bringing about real change.

Our fascistic, plutocratic overlords don’t exactly quake in their jackboots at the specter of small businesses having their front windows smashed out, and of course if a police car is torched, it is we, the taxpayers (which doesn’t include the tax-evading plutocrats), who will pay to replace that police car, of course. What do the plutocrats lose in these cases?

The plutocrats are perfectly willing to sacrifice a small, token amount in periodic property damage in order to perpetuate their ongoing socioeconomic rape, pillage and plunder of the masses and of the planet itself. (And it goes without saying, of course, that our plutocratic overlords are entirely untroubled by the periodic shootings of black men by white cops. After all, thus far the responses to these shootings, while they gain plenty of media coverage, haven’t threatened in any serious way the plutocrats’ iron grip on wealth and power.)

Finally, we Americans need to recognize that it wasn’t only Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown. Almost all of us killed Michael Brown. (Ditto for Trayvon Martin, as I have stated, and for many others.) Because we have continued to allow the inexcusable bullshit to continue, and as long as we continue to do so, as long as we continue to refuse to dive more deeply than the surface (such as by looking primarily or even solely at race and not nearly enough at class, and by failing to effectively hold accountable the plutocratic puppet masters who always are hiding behind the scenes and thus always get away scot-free), and as long as we continue to refuse to do the long, hard, sustained work of making – of forcing, if necessary – significant systemic changes (yes, including up to true revolution [“reform” always leaves the power structure intact, doesn’t it?]), there will be plenty of more Michael Browns and Darren Wilsons.

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Privacy rights sacked for one old racist’s scalp

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano

Associated Press photo

In this late 2010 photo, Donald Sterling and his former mistress, V. Stiviano, watch Sterling’s team, the Los Angeles Clippers, play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA pre-season basketball game. Apparently, in a vengeful move, Stiviano released illegally recorded racist comments made by Sterling, and a nation that no longer is bothered by blatant violations of privacy has mostly overlooked this element to the scandal, which I find chilling. 

Soon-to-be-former Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling strikes me as a racist asshole. Probably the best thing that we can say about him is that he has far many more days on this planet behind him than he has ahead of him. So let’s agree on that, since that may be all that we can agree on in this post.

The thing is that I have a real problem with the way that Sterling has been publicly tarred and feathered. How you do something, and how something comes about, do matter.

First of all, I agree wholeheartedly with fellow leftist Ted Rall that Sterling’s privacy rights very apparently were violated. As Rall notes in a column he recently wrote for aNewDomain.net (the links are Rall’s):

… Yet there’s a major part of the Sterling story that American journalists aren’t covering. One that’s just as important as the reminder that racism is still thriving in the executive suite — a suite whose profits derive mostly from African-American players, and whose boss has a half-black, half-Mexican girlfriend, no less.

What about Sterling’s privacy rights?

They tell us privacy is dead. Online, between the NSA and the public’s failure to take to the streets to bitch about the NSA, privacy is probably finished.

But what about a private phone call?

V. Stiviano, Sterling’s 31-year-old former mistress, appears to have surreptitiously recorded the call, baiting him into making disgusting remarks for the record and releasing it to the media, including the gossip sites TMZ and Deadspin, in retaliation for a $1.8 million lawsuit filed last week by Sterling’s wife. Mrs. Sterling is seeking the return of an apartment, cash and several cars — communal marital property under California law — that Sterling gave Stiviano.

Contextually, this is more gossip than journalism, closer to the ranting Alec Baldwin voice mail to his daughter tacklessly released by ex-wife Kim Basinger, than anything like WikiLeaks. We aren’t supposed to know about this. [I mostly agree with this, but when you leave a voice mail, you know that you are being recorded, and so that is a critical difference from being recorded without your knowledge or consent.]

What’s being ignored amid a firestorm of controversy so out of control that even the president of the United States felt compelled to weigh in on this matter so beneath the dignity of his office is this: Sterling’s privacy rights have been violated, both legally and morally.

Which is not good for him. Much more importantly, it’s terrible for us. …

I will add that in criminal law, there is the concept of the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This means that evidence against a person that is obtained illegally — such as by violating one’s constitutional right to privacy — may not be introduced into the courtroom. If you did not obtain the incriminating evidence legally — constitutionally — you may not use it against the individual.

Further, as Rall goes on to note in his column:

… First, the legal issue: California, where this call almost certainly took place, requires the consent of both parties in order to record a phone conversation. Stiviano risks a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. (There doesn’t appear to be a penalty for making the recording public. California’s state assembly should consider one.) …

I, for one, hope that a district attorney prosecutes Sterling for her criminal act (although I doubt that that will happen, because of the race-charged politics of this matter), and I hope that Sterling sues Stiviano in civil court for having violated his right to privacy. (Um, he certainly can prove that he has sustained damages…)

I make this stance not to support a racist, as the race hustlers will accuse me (and there are so-called race hustlers of every race), but I make this stance to support the principle that a blatant violation of another’s constitutional right to privacy — such as recording him or her during a phone call and then publicizing the surreptitious recording of that phone call — should be punished. If it isn’t punished, then it means that privacy, and the law, mean nothing. (I know…)

Many certainly want to make an example of Sterling where racism is concerned — more on this shortly — and these same people, if they truly support our constitutional rights, which even blatant racists possess (just as they possess free-speech rights), should be fine with the privacy-rights-violating Stiviano’s being made an example of also.

Rall continues:

… Then there’s the moral question.

I have no beef with TMZ. When reporters find news, it is their duty to report it no matter where it comes from or who, it hurts. I’m a purist on this point: I don’t think WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden had any moral duty to protect intelligence secrets, not even the identities of spies, when they released classified U.S. government documents.

My problem is that nobody else seems to have a problem with recording private conversations and releasing them to the media.

As we learned from The People vs. Larry Flynt, society must defend its worst scumbags from having his rights violated, or everyone else risks losing theirs too. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where every stupid thing I blather over the phone is potential fodder for public comment, Twitter wars and cause for dismissal from work.

Until we descend into the Stasi-like “Lives of Others” dystopia into which the NSA seems determined to transform the Land of the Formerly Free, everyone — including racist douchebags like Donald Sterling — ought to enjoy a reasonable presumption of privacy on the telephone. …

Yup.

And how about some due process? It was unseemly to have even the president of the United States calling for Sterling’s scalp before it was even concluded whether or not it was Sterling’s voice on the illegal recording. (Like most others, at this point I more or less am taking Sterling’s non-denial as fairly solid confirmation that it was indeed his voice that illegally was recorded, but at this point, if we value the truth, we will admit that we still have no actual evidence that it was indeed Sterling’s voice. [If Sterling has confessed, then OK, I stand pretty corrected, but I haven’t seen news of such a confession yet, if there is such news.])

And of course the mayor of my city (Sacrament0), former NBA player Kevin Johnson, had to insert himself into the whole Sterling mess, publicly declaring today, “I hope every bigot in this country saw what happened to Mr. Sterling.”

Johnson reportedly has been “a leading spokesman for NBA players during the Sterling controversy.”

I don’t know — the mayor of my city making such a threatening statement strikes me as thuggery. That’s a loaded word, thuggery, I know, but does Johnson’s public proclamation — his public threat exactly foster reconciliation among the races? Or does it only deepen racial divisions? Was Johnson, with his public statement — his thinly veiled threat — utilizing love or fear?

It was unseemly and unstatesmanlike, methinks, for Johnson to wave Sterling’s scalp in his hand as he did, and I can tell you, having lived in Sacramento during Johnson’s tenure as mayor (he’s now in his second term), that Johnson has done little for the city (California’s capital) outside of his personal interests.

Johnson apparently cares only about basketball (he recently was quite instrumental in denying us Sacramentans the ability to vote on whether or not there should be public funding for a new basketball arena that has been shoved down our throats by Johnson & Co.) and the ambitions of his wife, the infamous Michelle Rhee, to destroy teachers’ unions and turn our public schools into for-profit schools.

(And perhaps you should know that contributing to my use of the term “thuggery” above is the fact that from Day One, Johnson has pushed his so-called “strong-mayor” initiative, a rewrite of city governance that would greatly increase his power and decrease the power of the city council. Johnson has been pushing for this right since he took office. Kevin Johnson always has been, and always will be, all about Kevin Johnson and more pure, raw, political power for Kevin Johnson. He’s yet another example of why former jocks almost never should be handed the reins of power.)

I suppose that I digressed there (but I view Johnson as corrupt and dangerous as he is ambitious, and so I believe in educating people about what he’s really all about), but I come back now to the concept of the fruit of the poisoned tree: If it was even legal to do so, was it fair for Donald Sterling to have been punished as harshly as he was* for something that he said during a phone conversation that he had thought was private but that illegally was recorded by the other party, apparently for revenge? (Why else would you record a phone conversation, in whole or in part, except to use the recording later, such as by releasing it to other parties or by threatening to release it to other parties?)

I highly doubt that not one of the many black (and other non-white) Americans (prominent and non-prominent) who have publicly (and privately) slammed Donald Sterling for his racism never has uttered anti-white sentiment (and/or other racist sentiment) in a private communication with another individual.

How would any of them like it if a recording of them engaging in such talk in private were made public?

In the Sterling affair I just don’t see a national quest for justice and for racial reconciliation. I see Sterling as the stand-in for all old white bigots. Indeed, the size of his punishment indicates that Sterling is being punished not only for his own crimes, but for those of many, many others. (Indeed, Kevin Johnson directly proclaimed today, in his characteristically self-serving grandstanding, that he publicly was waving Sterling’s scalp as an example to “every bigot in this country.”)

That’s not fair, and making a scapegoat of Sterling — while ignoring the fact that his constitutional right to privacy blatantly was violated — won’t improve race relations in the United States of America. Indeed, it might make them worse.

Racism is institutionalized, is deeply ingrained, within the United States of America, and the racial hatreds in the United States are not only one way, whites hating blacks, but also run the other way, blacks hating whites, and of course the other races also engage in race-based hatred, and so we have many possible permutations of raced-based hatred in the U.S., and there is no quick or easy fix to this ugliness.

Electing a black president (twice) sure hasn’t helped very much — as Tavis Smiley remarked in October, “The data is going to indicate, sadly, that when the Obama administration is over, black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category” — and neither will punishing one old white bigot by dangling him in the public square for all to see and revile.

P.S. I listened to the clip of Kevin Johnson again, and the fuller, more accurate quote is: “I hope every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and recognizes that if he can fall, so can you.”

Wow. Is that really the tone that we want to set for interracial reconciliation? And what does this mean, exactly? That from now on all of us can expect to have our phone conversations recorded, because all is fair in interracial warfare?

*Yes, it seems to me that imposing upon Sterling the maximum allowable $2.5 million fine, banning him from the NBA for life, and forcing him to sell his team for something that he said in an illegally recorded phone conversation probably is too harsh a punishment for the crime, a crime that he could not even be criminally tried for, since the evidence against him was obtained illegally and unconstitutionally.

It seems to me that we’re no better than Sterling if we celebrate his downfall, which has been orchestrated so underhandedly, and that when one person’s privacy so casually can be violated, then none of us has any privacy.

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Finally (maybe), the president we voted for in 2008

“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son,” President Barack Obama remarked during a press conference yesterday, immediately adding, “Another way of saying that is [that] Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” He also remarked that while “Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race,” “It doesn’t mean that we’re in a post-racial society” and “It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.” Anyone who has a problem with these words is a part of the problem.

I usually agree with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, but not this time. He begins his latest column thusly:

We should talk honestly about unresolved racial issues, such as those exposed by the Trayvon Martin case, but President Obama is not the best person to lead the discussion. Through no fault of his own, he might be the worst.

Indeed, yesterday President Hopey-Changey unexpectedly during a press conference at the White House finally discussed American race relations apparently in a way not meant to placate the incredibly easily rattled whitey.

This was the Obama I voted for in 2008 but could not vote for again in 2012, in no small part because of his history of probably being worse on the issues of race relations and racism than an actually progressive white president would have been.

Here are some nuggets from Obama’s remarks (which I recommend that you read in their entirety):

…[In] the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here [in the Trayvon Martin case], [and] I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

…The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

…And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

…So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African-American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different. …

Now, I don’t agree with every word that Obama spoke, such as his mindless, pro-plutocratic promotion of nonviolence — “If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family,” he remarked, even though the U.S. government and all other levels of government in the U.S. resort to violence for our plutocratic overlords all the fucking time, abroad and at home, while we commoners are never to respond in kind, thus helping to ensure the status quo (including, of course, our serfdom) — but even simple, obvious, irrefutable reminders of what black Americans routinely go through, such as being followed around at department stores and hearing the clicks of car-door locks in their presence, are powerful.

These simple truths are powerful because in the United States of America they so rarely are mentioned in the public square, and certainly, until now, never by the U.S. president.

These truths aren’t controversial because they’re truths, but because in the dysfunctional family that is the United States of America, truths that make many people uncomfortable are not to be uttered at all, and those who utter them usually are punished — not for lying, certainly, but for uttering the truths that, the unspoken but usually quite understood rule is, never are to be uttered because they make certain people — gasp!uncomfortable.

This dysfunctional bullshit needed to stop long ago, and the reason that Obama got my vote in 2008, at least in part, is that I trusted his ubiquitous promises of “hope” and “change”; I trusted him to start to break through all of the bullshit.

Unfortunately, Obama apparently has waited until his second term to begin to do so.

In his remarks about the Trayvon Martin case Obama also offered some policy changes in order to prevent similar cases from happening in the future. Among those remarks were these two:

“I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than defuse potential altercations” and “…[If] we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?”

I think he hit the nail on the head — the two big takeaways from the Trayvon Martin case are the problems of racial profiling (and racism and race relations in general, which, of course, are behind such profiling) and right-wing state laws that indeed actually encourage Wild-West-style violence rather than work to reduce violence.

The only Americans who possibly could have a real problem with Obama’s remarks are those who are guilty as charged. These would be the racists and white supremacists who have opposed Obama from Day One anyway.

I get it that Obama also from Day One was careful, probably especially once he stepped into the national limelight, not to appear to be an “angry” black man, lest too many white (and other non-black) people be put off by it and not vote for him. (There is a reason that someone like Obama, and not someone like Jesse Jackson [who did run for president — back in the day I went to his presidential campaign stop at my university], became our first black president.)

However, up until now Obama has gone too far in the direction of caution, neglecting the issue of race to the point that, again, I seriously have considered that an actually bold, progressive white (or other non-black) president would have done much more to improve the lives of black Americans than Obama has.

Obama’s chronic over-caution has had the paradoxical effect, I suspect, of making the fact that he’s been our first black president to be fairly meaningless, in terms of the quality of black Americans’ lives. Hell, not even just meaningless, but actually detrimental, given his “leadership” style of holding back and doing little to nothing (not only on race relations but on most matters of importance; for instance, I’ll never forget his relative inaction while British Petroleum just filled the Gulf of Mexico with oil, arguably the first real test of his presidential mettle).

Still, I suppose, better late than never, although none of us should expect that Obama now will be talking frankly and candidly about race and race relations with any frequency between now and the end of his second term. It’s never been his style, and I can’t see him radically changing his style now.

But it is the job of the president of the United States of America to talk about social issues, and to be a leader to the nation that elected him or her, and probably the most controversial social issues are the ones that need to be discussed the most, just as the most painful parts of your body are the parts that most need medical attention — certainly not denial and avoidance.

And a part of the American body politic that needs medical attention — stat — is the demographic of young black males. “We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys,” Obama also remarked yesterday, adding, “There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?”

Obama continued: “You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program. I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power.”

Indeed. As president, Obama does have power, power that thus far he hasn’t used nearly enough for good.

So I have to disagree with Eugene Robinson when he states that “The record indicates that honest talk from Obama about race is seen by many [white (let’s face it, Robinson, who seems almost as timid as Obama does, very most likely mostly means white)] people as threatening” and that therefore, “the unfortunate fact is that if his aim is to promote dialogue about race, speaking his mind is demonstrably counterproductive.”

No, it is Obama’s up-to-now historical silence on the topic of race — other than non-threatening/non-“threatening,” throw-away platitudes — that has been demonstrably counterproductive.

Those who — gasp! — feel threatened!/“threatened”! and/or uncomfortable! need to get a fucking grip already, because they are the ones who have been preventing the United States of America from fulfilling its up-to-now fairly empty promises of liberty and justice for all.

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Only a Wayback Machine can save the Repugnican Tea Party now

The Repugnican Tea Party traitors should consider hiring Mr. Peabody as a consultant, and they’ll need to go back to even before 1900…

So the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ talking point now is that in order to win over voters from now on, they have to communicate better.

Wow.

They’ve been communicating quite well, actually. Anyone who has been paying attention should be quite clear on where they have stood. Take the Repugnican Tea Party’s platform that was approved from its last national convention. This is Faux News reporting, too (in August):

Tampa, Fla. — Republicans emphatically approved a toughly worded party platform at their national convention Tuesday that would ban all  abortions and gay marriages, reshape Medicare into a voucher-like program and cut taxes to energize the economy and create jobs. …

There alone, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors alienated most women and almost all non-heterosexuals (there are some self-loathing non-heterosexuals who support the Repugnican Tea Party, but there aren’t a lot of them). There’s no way to “better” “communicate” such stances as that the embryo’s or fetus’ “rights” always trump those of the mother (even, very apparently, in such cases as rape, incest or when the mother’s life would be at risk should the pregnancy continue) or that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to ban same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Those are the hard-right, misogynist, homophobic and patriarchal stances that the Repugnican Tea Party took in its latest party platform, which wasn’t passed nearly long enough ago for the fascistic traitors who comprise the party to claim now that they just didn’t “communicate” well enough.

It’s not just women and gays whom the Repugnican Tea Party traitors have alienated, of course.

Most of the traitors still are beating up on the brown-skinned immigrants from south of the border, whom they regard as subhuman, much as how the Nazis regarded the Jews and how the Israelis, ironically, now regard the Palestinians.

Ohioan “Joe the Plumber,” one of the poster boys for the stupid white man, who last year ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Repugnican Tea Party ticket (of course) declared in Arizona — Ground Zero for the anti-immigrant bigotry and hatred in the U.S.; indeed, Arizona is the South Africa of the Southwest — in August that the U.S. government should “put a damn fence on the border going with Mexico and start shooting.” Those were the words of a candidate for a federal office.

Let’s not leave out black Americans, of course.

A huge chunk of the Repugnican Tea Party traitors still maintain that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and thus his presidency is illegitimate — as though if there had been any problem with Obama’s constitutionally mandated qualifications to be president, neither Billary Clinton nor John McCainosaurus, who must have spent plenty of dough on opposition research and who both wanted to be president very badly, would have discovered it and then worked to oust Obama from the 2008 presidential race.

Michelle Obama can’t do anything without being criticized for it by the white-supremacist wingnuts as being un-first-lady-like. What if Laura Bush — or (shivers) First Lady Ann Romney — had announced the Oscar for Best Picture? Would the Repugnican Tea Party traitors have brayed that that was “inappropriate”?

Of course not — because their main problem with Barack Obama and his wife is that they’re blacks who are in the White House.

And even while we have some of the Repugnican Tea Party traitors claiming that they just need to “communicate” “better,” as I type this sentence we have most of the members of the Repugnican Tea Party publicly hoping that the right-wing-controlled U.S. Supreme Court will eviscerate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — because despite the fact that the Repugnican Tea Party still advocates measures that keep blacks and other non-whites and other Democratically leaning individuals from voting, such as strict voter identification requirements (in the name of preventing the “voter fraud” that does not exist — that’s in their party platform, too) and insanely long voting lines for black, non-white and other Democratically leaning voters (coupled, of course, with short lines for Repugnican Tea Party voters), race-based voter suppression is a relic from the past, you see.

And if the Repugnican Tea Party traitors can’t suppress enough Democratically leaning voters, fuck it, they’ll just at least try to change the way that we divvy up the electoral votes in the Electoral College, but only in those states that will boost the Repugnican Tea Party. (We’ll leave Texas and the other dark-red states alone, you see.)

It’s clear that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors like, respect and support democracy only when they win/“win” elections. (The quotation marks are for such elections as the 2000 presidential election.) You can’t “communicate” that obvious fact “better.”

We also have Mittens Romney’s comment in October that “47 percent” of Americans are mooches, when, in fact, it’s the 47 percent who voted for Romney who are the takers, while the denizens of the blue states (the “47 percent” whom Romney was referring to) always have been and always will be the makers, supporting the welfare states that are the red states.

Muslims, too, have been bashed relentlessly by the Repugnican Tea Party — aside from advocating the continued mass slaughter of Muslims (such as by incredibly stupidly attacking Iran and by stupidly blindly continuing to support the mass-murderous wingnuts of Israel in their continued Nazi-like mass slaughter of the Palestinians), the Repugnican Tea Party traitors call President Obama a Muslim as a slam — and I can’t see most Muslims ever supporting the Repugnican Tea Party any more than I can see myself ever supporting the Repugnican Tea Party.

As a gay man, am I to just forget what the Repugnican Tea Party just put in its fucking party platform — that my equal human and civil rights guaranteed to me by the U.S. Constitution should be denied to me by an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that specifically singles me out for such discrimination? Am I to just forget that George W. Bush made opposition to same-sex marriage a centerpiece of his 2004 “re”-election campaign? (Speaking of Gee Dubya, am I also to just forget that he blatantly stole office in 2000 and then started a bogus war for which he should be executed as the war criminal that he is?) Am I to just forget that the House Repugnicans right now are spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars to try to keep the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” alive because the Obama administration refuses to defend the blatantly unconstitutional — and thus the infuckingdefensible — act?

Are women just supposed to forget the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ clearly articulated stances on such issues as abortion, birth control, rape and violence against women?

Are Latinos just supposed to forget the brown-skinned-immigrant bashing that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors have been using to induce ignorant, bigoted white voters to vote for them?

Are blacks just supposed to forget?

“We need to be asking for votes in the most powerful way possible, which is to have people asking for the vote who are comfortable and look like and sound like the people that we’re asking for the vote from,” Karl Rove (a.k.a. George W. “Bush’s brain”) said just yesterday just in my backyard, here in Sacramento, at the California Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ convention.

How has that tactic been working for the Repugnican Tea Party traitors, though?

They fronted Sarah Palin after Barack Obama had picked Joe Biden (and not Billary Clinton or another woman) to be his running mate. The message was supposed to be that the Repugnican Tea Party is the party that wuvs women.

Women didn’t buy it, and probably were insulted that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors think that they’re that fucking stupid. (I was thusly insulted, and I’m a male.) Despite Palin’s supposedly having demonstrated that the Repugnican Tea Party overnight magically became the party of and for women, Obama in November 2008 won a higher percentage of the popular vote than George W. Bush did in 2000 or in 2004, and he couldn’t have done that without women.

The Repugnican Tea Party traitors then put Michael Steele in charge of the Repugnican National Committee — as the first black head of the party, in obvious cynical response to the election of the nation’s first black president. (Steele, before he became the head of the party, had been only the lieutenant governor of Maryland. That’s how few blacks are in any real position of power within the Repugnican Tea Party.)

Although on Steele’s watch (from January 2009 to January 2011) the Repugnican Tea Party traitors won back the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 (in the “tea party” “revolution”), the Repugnican Tea Party traitors nonetheless dumped Steele in January 2011 and replaced him with white frat boy Reince Priebus — the usual face of the party.

And although the Repugnican Tea Party traitors lost seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, on white frat boy Reince Priebus’ watch, just this past January the Repugnican Tea Party traitors nonetheless granted the stupid white man Priebus a second two-year term as head of the Repugnican Tea Party.

As George W. Bush amply demonstrated, the bar is set much, much, much lower for stupid white men than it is for anyone else, perhaps especially for blacks.

Now the Repugnican Tea Party traitors cynically are fronting younger Latino male candidates, such as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, as a presidential hopeful, and, here in California, Abel Maldonado as a gubernatorial hopeful.

Rubio is a 41-year-old Cuban American, and of course Cuban Americans, being (1) the rich Cubans who had exploited others for their own selfish gain before they had to escape from Fidel Castro’s anti-capitalist revolution or (2) their spoiled spawn (such as Rubio), predominantly are right-wingers who believe that the lighter-skinned should continue to exploit the darker-skinned.

Yet almost two-thirds of Latinos in the U.S. have Mexican roots and only 3.5 percent of them have Cuban roots. So how representative is Marco Fucking Rubio of the nationwide Latino community? (But he’s Latino — close enough, right? Is that not how the white supremacists think? Kind of like how 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and not one of them was from Iraq, but let’s invade Iraq because that’s close enough, right?)

Californian Repugnican Tea Party member Abel Maldonado is 45 years old, and while unlike Marco Rubio he is Mexican-American, he couldn’t win even the post of state controller in 2006 or lieutenant governor in 2010. And he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives last year but lost. And he is Californian Repugnicans’ Great Latino Hope.

When will the Repugnican Tea Party traitors realize that the voters can recognize a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Will Marco Rubio (and others who fit his demographic) magically work to win over Latino voters to the Repugnican Tea Party any more than Palin and Steele worked to win over women and black voters?

And is Karl Rove not blatantly asserting that appearance is all that matters when he advises his fellow Repugnican Tea Party traitors “to have people asking for the vote who are comfortable and look like and sound like the people that we’re asking for the vote from”?

Fuck substance, right? Fuck the Repugnican Tea Party’s continuing history of oppressing certain groups of people, right? Just put a right-wing sellout like Sarah Palin or Michael Steele or Marco Rubio out there and the voters won’t know the difference, right?

The Repugnican Tea Party traitors can find a wingnut or two (or maybe even three) among any minority group and front him or her or them as a candidate. It’s not nearly enough, though, to wipe out decades of the party’s bigotry and discrimination that not only is historical but still continues as I type this sentence.

Perhaps especially when the Repugnican Tea Party then blames its electoral losses on the tokens whom it once fronted and then replaces them with the traditional stupid white men (there was no Palin repeat in 2012 — no, it was two stupid white men on the Repugnican Tea Party presidential ticket, the way that it always had been pre-Palin, and, as I noted, Reince Priebus kept his job as the party’s head even though the booted Michael Steele apparently had done a better job than Priebus did) the party loses even more ground with the groups whose votes it claimed it wanted. You won’t score points with these groups by turning your tokens into your scapegoats.

Even Mittens Romney, for fuck’s sake, reportedly has manned up enough to blame his campaign for his loss in November.

“I lost my election because of my campaign, not because of what anyone else did,” Romney reportedly said on Faux News today.

However, while Romney reportedly quite correctly identified his “47 percent” remarks as being damaging to his campaign — insulting almost half of the nation’s voters on video isn’t a great idea — he also reportedly attributed his loss to the loss of black and Latino voters.

As much as I don’t want to defend Mittens Romney, who would have been a disastrous president, the fact is that there was nothing that his campaign could have done to win over black and Latino voters, given his own fucking party’s disastrous historical relations with those groups.

Actually, I guess that I’m not defending Mittens, because his apparent belief that there was anything that he could have done to magically win over black and Latino voters demonstrates, I think, how stupid he and his ilk believe black and Latino voters are, and how superiorly crafty and clever the white man is, that black and Latino voters are just going to forget decades of bigotry and discrimination at the hands of the Repugnican Party because some white-male Repugnican Tea Party candidate comes up with just the right hocus-pocus, mindfuck rhetoric to hypnotize them into voting for him over their own best interests.

No amount of attempted-Jedi-mindfuck rhetoric and no amount of tokens (like Marco Rubio or Sarah Palin) are going to help the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in future elections. Only a small percentage of the members of the minority groups that historically have been oppressed by the Repugnican Tea Party (and women, of course, are no minority group) are going to fall for this the-foxes-actually-wuv-the-chickens bullshit.

No, what the Repugnican Tea Party traitors sorely need now is a time machine so that they can go back in time — waaay back in time — and treat certain groups of people a whole lot better than they did over at least many decades.

I wish them luck with that.

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Thanks to Obama, Jesse Jackson, et. al., seem to have evolved

Um, let’s not call Barack Obama “the first gay president,” but let’s credit him with being influential within the black community where equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals are concerned.

Newsweek’s May 21 cover pronouncement of Barack Obama being the nation’s “first gay president” is typically-for-Newsweek hyperbolic — Obama is no more the “first gay president” than Bill Clinton was the “first black president” — but Obama’s belated pronouncement of last week that he supports same-sex marriage (although he hasn’t changed his “states’ rights” “argument” and thus he has not argued that same-sex marriage should not be prohibited by any of the states) might have the benefit of easing some of the homophobia within the black community.

Seventy percent of the black voters who voted on California’s Proposition 8 in November 2008 voted “yes” and thus voted against same-sex marriage here in California — on the very same election day that brought us the nation’s first black president, mind you.

Seventy fucking percent. (Overall, 52 percent of the state’s voters passed Prop H8.)

The Washington Post at the time of Prop H8’s passage reported that “Similar [anti-same-sex-marriage] measures passed easily in Florida and Arizona. It was closer in California, but no ethnic group anywhere rejected the sanctioning of same-sex unions as emphatically as the state’s black voters, according to exit polls.”

This, I think, was for two primary reasons:

One, most black Americans have adopted the toxic, backasswards, ignorance-, hatred- and fear-based religion of those who once were their enslavers. They and their equally fucktarded and bigoted white counterparts call this patriarchal, misogynist and homophobic bullshit “Christianity,” but I’ve read the New Testament, and Christianity this ain’t.

It’s unfortunate that so many black churches are just like white churches. The only significant difference between the black Protestant churches and the white Protestant churches, it seems to me, is the race and the racial identity of the churchgoers. The ignorance, hatred, bigotry and the us-vs.-them, fear-based bullshit pretty much are the same.

Two, many if not most blacks refuse to share the victimization pie. These blacks don’t want to acknowledge that any other historically oppressed minority group also has been oppressed in the United States of America. Their victimization (real and/or fabricated) is their identity, after all.

Of course we cannot exactly compare gay rights and the historical oppression that non-heterosexuals and the non-gender-conforming have experienced to race-based rights and the historical oppression that blacks and other non-whites have experienced in the United States of America.

Slavery, and being discriminated against for your race, are a whole other ball of wax from being discriminated against for your sexual orientation and/or your gender expression. Obviously and of course.

However, it’s also true that gay males and lesbians and other non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals are the only minorities who routinely are rejected even by their own families. Racial minorities, on the other hand, almost universally are accepted by the members of their own families. (There are exceptions, of course, such as in the cases of biracial children; a white supremacist white family probably would to some degree reject a biracial child born into the family, for example.)

But getting into arguments over which historically oppressed minority group has had it worse probably isn’t very constructive, and fuck it, I will say it: Those blacks who make stewing over the injustices that were done even primarily to their forebears their second or even their first job probably are quite stuck in their development, and since they have a difficult time living in the present, but remain stuck in the past — even others’ past — their chance of making significant progress in the present is slim. They are sad cases who not only are miserable themselves, but who do their best to make those around them miserable.

I mean, shit. I can’t marry my same-sex partner of five years here in the supposedly liberal and progressive state of California, and I can think of no other minority group that isn’t allowed to get married. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1967, in Loving vs. Virginia, that no state can outlaw mixed-race heterosexual marriage, but here I am, decades later, and I don’t have marriage rights. Gay indeed apparently is the new black. (Maybe that is reason No. 3 for rampant black homophobia: Many if not most blacks want to ensure that there is at least one minority group that they still can shit and piss upon. In this dogpile that we call the U.S. of A. it’s still better to be next to the bottom than to be at the very bottom of the dogpile, isn’t it?) I could stew over this gross injustice a lot more than I do, but I would like my life to be about more than stewing over this injustice.

All of that said, same-sex marriage rights and other equal rights and human rights for non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals are civil rights.

Civil rights is a large umbrella — an umbrella that doesn’t cover only blacks. Wikipedia notes in its entry “civil rights”:

Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.

Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples’ physical integrity and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as physical or mental disability, gender, religion, race, national origin, age, status as a member of the uniformed services, sexual orientation or gender identity; and individual rights such as privacy, the freedoms of thought and conscience, speech and expression, religion, the press, and movement.

Fuck it, I’ll say it: If you maintain that civil rights cover only your group, you’re a selfish fucking hypocrite who demands that your group be treated with fairness and with justice, but you don’t give a flying fuck about other groups. Therefore, you don’t fucking deserve the same respect that you demand that others show you.

Therefore, I was incensed when Jesse Jackson announced some time ago that gay rights (or at least same-sex marriage rights) aren’t civil rights. As recently as two years ago, Jackson reportedly declared, “Many African-Americans believe gays are discriminated against, but they don’t believe marriage is a civil-rights issue. [Really? Loving vs. Virginia, which allowed mixed-race heterosexual marriage, was not over a civil-rights issue?] There are issues of acceptance [of gays], but there is no back of the bus; there are no lynchings.” Um, Matthew Shepard and countless other non-heterosexuals who have been killed for their sexual orientation and/or non-gender-conformation have not, in effect, been lynched? Jackson at that time added that being non-heterosexual “is not immutable” and “is not an externally observable characteristic unless you want to flaunt it.”

Actually, for most non-heterosexuals it is not a choice, any more than heterosexuals have a choice as to who they are and are not sexually attracted to, and of course, that word choice — “flaunt it” — reeks of homophobic bigotry (the only way for effeminate males and masculine females not to “flaunt it” is to [try to] pretend to be who and what they are not, which is soul-crushing), and of course the “immutability” “argument” is bullshit where civil rights are concerned. Civil rights protect one’s religious beliefs, for example, and certainly one’s religious beliefs are not immutable. (And why, oh, why, must so many “Christians” flaunt their mutable, bullshit, backasswards beliefs that they wish to inflict on all of us? And why do the “Christians” want to convert our defenseless children to their perversion?)

However, Jesse Jackson seems to have evolved on the issue of same-sex marriage since his earlier effective public proclamations that blacks have the monopoly on civil rights.

The Los Angeles Times on Thursday surreally reported (emphases are mine):

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday praised President Obama’s decision to support same-sex marriage, comparing the battle for such unions to the fight against slavery and anti-miscegenation laws intended to keep blacks and other ethnicities from mingling and marrying with whites.

“This is a bold step in the right direction for equal protection under the law for all citizens,” Jackson told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday morning. But, he said, he wished the president had gone further, pushing for federal protection for all citizens instead of leaving the controversial issue of gay marriage up to the states to decide. [!!!]

If other hard-won civil rights battles had been left up to the states, Jackson said, African Americans would have been on the losing end of those battles.

“If the states had to vote on slavery, we would have lost the vote,” Jackson said. “If we had to vote on the right [for blacks] to vote, we would have lost that vote.” …

Wow. Here is Jesse Jackson now more or less comparing the fight for same-sex marriage in all 50 states to the fight to eliminate slavery in all 50 states, a comparison that I recently made myself and was expecting to get shit for (but miraculously did not).

Of course, not being allowed to marry the one you wish to marry absolutely is not just like being involuntarily owned and involuntarily worked like livestock instead of being treated as a free human being, but the idea of allowing any of the states to put the treatment of and the equal human and civil rights of any minority group up for a fucking vote is anti-American. And I do believe that while of course we cannot directly compare the prohibition of same-sex marriage to slavery, we can more or less directly compare laws that banned mixed-race marriage to laws that ban same-sex marriage. Yes, marriage rights are civil rights.

I have been critical of Barack Obama for still not having gone far enough on same-sex marriage — and, by and large, most Americans, even non-heterosexual Americans, seem to be letting him off of the hook for his willingness to go only so far thus far — so it is gratifying to see Jesse Jackson’s proclamation that Obama hasn’t gone far enough on same-sex marriage.

The L.A. Times reports further of Jackson’s recent pronouncement (emphases mine):

His statement comes as a growing number of African-American leaders and civil-rights activists are stepping forward to voice their support for same-sex marriage. Their positions are significant because there is a stronghold of opposition to same-sex marriage within African American communities. This week alone, African-Americans voters were instrumental to passing North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. [Deja vu all over again…]

Acknowledging that gap, Jackson called on religious leaders nationwide to address the issue with their congregations.

Jackson said gays and lesbians are among the ranks of soldiers dying for their country, the teachers educating the nation’s children and even the pastors guiding parishioners through the Bible. It’s time to reward gays and lesbians with equal protection, he said.

He urged opponents to remember that same-sex marriage isn’t about taking rights away from anyone else, but rather extending those rights to all. He also recalled a painful time in America’s not-too-distant past when African American men in the South faced swift punishment or even death if they tried to date a white woman, even as white men boldly dated across racial lines.

With such history in the rear-view mirror, Jackson said, it’s time to stop dictating the actions of others.

“You may choose your mate, but you cannot deny someone else the right to choose their mate,” he said. “The law protects you from being abused. It doesn’t threaten your lifestyle for someone else to have the right to exhibit their lifestyle,” he later added. [“Exhibit” — I hope that that’s not just a euphemism for “flaunt”… And your sexual orientation, in the vast majority of cases, is not your “lifestyle.” Your lifestyle, by definition, is your choice. Your sexual orientation, in the vast majority of cases, is not your choice.]

Other African-American leaders were also vocal this week in their support for gay marriage, joining Jackson in reframing the issue as one of civil rights.

“I salute President Obama’s statement today supporting same-sex marriage,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement that went on to add: “This is not about mine or anyone’s personal or religious views. It is about equal rights for all. We cannot be selective with civil rights. We must support civil rights for everybody or we don’t support them for anyone.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, seen as a rising [black] star in the Democratic Party, appeared on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC Wednesday to lend an impassioned voice in support of gay marriage rights. [I saw that interview, and I like fellow Gen X’er Cory Booker, and he is, I think, an example of the fact that one’s age largely determines his or her stance on same-sex marriage. Younger Americans, as a whole, are more accepting of same-sex marriage than are older Americans, such as Jesse Jackson, regardless of their race.]

And, earlier in the day, the social media savvy leader tweeted: “Historic day for justice and equality. Our United States President Obama endorses marriage equality. I rejoice in this announcement.”

I suspect that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et. al., wouldn’t be as on board with same-sex marriage as they are now if our “first gay president” weren’t black and if our “first gay president” hadn’t first made his (limited) support of same-sex marriage public, but I’ll take their (belated) support anyway.

Truth be told, their support of my equal human and civil rights makes it much easier for me to give them my support of theirs wholeheartedly.

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