Category Archives: Racism

FACT: NOM Wants To Start A Race War

nom-logoI would not want to be a follower of the National Organization for [Straight] Marriage (NOM) right now. Last night we learned that yes, what we suspected for the past several years is true: part of NOM’s strategy has been to engender and exploit racism in their fight against civil rights. The revelation comes from NOM’s own internal documents, released by HRC’s NOM Exposed project, which were used as evidence in their failed attempt to get around campaign finance laws in Maine.

MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts had the story this morning.

Two of the passages in question:

The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots…

The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity – a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.

Understand, we’ve known through simple observation that this was part of Maggie Gallagher’s strategy. The only surprise here is the hubris and stupidity in putting it down on paper. Jeremy Hooper of GoodAsYou has offered a long list of evidence of Maggie’s racist strategy from the past couple years. And Alvin McEwen of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters offered his analysis this morning (more at the link):

In addition, all of those other awful speeches and statements by pastors and black leaders pushed forth by NOM now take a more nauseating semblance. None of what they were doing had anything to preserving the black community or helping the black community.

It was just a game. A nasty, hate-filled game. The only thing that could possibly be worse about this situation is if the exchanging of money between NOM and these black leaders was involved.

As Joe Sudbay said this morning over at AmericaBlog:

This scandal creates a number of questions. For me, the first one is: Who saw NOM’s plan to start a race war and agreed to fund it?

There are some likely suspects who have close ties to the anti-gay industry, led by NOM, including the Catholic Bishops, Mormons and the Knights of Columbus. Someone needs to ask each of those groups if they saw this racist plan and if they funded it.

There are many more questions to be asked. It’s going to take days, if not weeks, to unpack a document dump this large. But this one’s big. No more can NOM claim their desire for racial harmony. No, their own papers expose exactly the opposite agenda.

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CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Proves The Need For GLAAD’s New Commentator Accountability Project

Last Thursday morning, CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien had Family Research Council (FRC) leader Tony Perkins on her show. Here’s a link to the entire segment, via FRC. Perkins’ appearance, with no mention of his dangerous extremist views, is bothersome enough, but O’Brien’s Twitter banter with one of the anti-gay industry’s most prominent leaders is really out of line for a mainstream news anchor, considering what is on the public record.

Saturday evening, I noticed O’Brien’s Twitter exchanges with Perkins and tossed off a quick question, which resulted in the following exchange. (By the way, I don’t bring up the Klan lightly. Tony Perkins has known connections to the conservative group, to use Ms. O’Brien’s term, that interviewers seem loathe to acknowledge on-air.)

Click for the live version.
Click for the live version.
Click for the live version.
Click for the live version.

I’m honestly flabbergasted by Soledad O’Brien’s shoulder-shrugging dismissal. Obviously, Twitter isn’t the best place to have a long-form conversation about the discriminatory views of Tony Perkins and FRC. (Ideally, that should be done on CNN before she jokes around with him about James Taylor music.)

Even accepting the inadequacies of the forum, though, Tony Perkins’ extremist anti-gay hate group isn’t something one can just disagree on. He is on the record comparing people like her colleague Don Lemon to pedophiles and terrorists, and says that people like Lemon are “pawns of the enemy.”

These are Tony Perkins’ undisputed official positions voiced in his professional capacity as FRC president. It’s not just a difference of opinion whether that’s worth talking about when she brings him on her program. Indeed, it must be mentioned, and her dismissal of the issue calls into question O’Brien’s professionalism, her journalistic ethics, and most importantly, her personal biases. What else has she decided her viewers don’t need to know? What other important information has she withheld? What other despicable hatemongers have she introduced as just conservative (or liberal) leaders?

In a well-timed coincidence, just 24 hours before Soledad O’Brien joked around with a hate group leader without mentioning to the millions in her audience that she was, in fact, joking around with a hate group leader, GLAAD introduced their new Commentator Accountability Program, or CAP. From GLAAD’s official project announcement:

“Hate is not an expert opinion,” said GLAAD’s Herndon Graddick. “In most cases, news outlets invite reputable experts to speak on the subject at hand, but when talking about LGBT issues, open hostility and anti-LGBT bias seems to be all the credibility required. This project holds these so-called ‘pundits’ accountable for the extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric they continue to spread.”

The Commentator Accountability Project launches with a comprehensive set of online resources detailing the anti-LGBT, racist, and anti-woman sentiments of nearly three dozen anti-LGBT commentators who have appeared in local and national news. As more commentators engage in anti-LGBT rhetoric, new profiles will be added.

Soledad O’Brien should spend some time learning the FRC president’s extremist, vitriolic, and yes, racist views before the next time she laughs with him about funny music selections on his iPod. (Seriously. They did that.) I feel silly for pointing out something so obvious, but news anchors have a responsibility to their audience to acknowledge their guests’ professional credentials. Even if Perkins isn’t there to talk specifically about the eyebrow-raising parts of his organization’s platform, ignoring his extremism is a disservice to her viewers.

GLAAD has made it easy for journalists like O’Brien; they’ve even given Perkins his own page with links to video and transcripts of offensive professional stances. They’ve taken the work out of the journalistic vetting process. The question is whether she and her colleagues value their audience’s right to know over access to a smooth-talking pundit.

Why Values Voter Summit 2011 Should End Presidential Campaign 2012

Last weekend, every Republican Presidential candidate with a chance of winning (plus Rick Santorum) appeared on stage at the Values Voter Summit, a meeting sponsored by two certified hate groups on par with (and one with ties to) the Ku Klux Klan and the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Family Research Council and American Family Association have both been considered hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center for some time now, and with good reason; both groups push their shared agenda with dangerous propaganda and outright lies about LGBT people.

To repeat: Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum all accepted the invitation of these hate groups (as they have for years), hoping to get their endorsements and the votes of like-minded individuals.

Do you really need more information before you cast your vote in the 2012 presidential election? What stance on which issue could possibly make it okay to vote for a candidate who has actively courted bigotry?

choice-highway-sign

Hate Group AFA’s Frank Turek Can’t Figure Out Gay ‘Pride’

Last week, corporate trainer Frank Turek’s speaking contract for a Bank of America (BoA) training event was canceled when an employee brought it to their attention that in addition to his corporate training work, Turek is also a conservative christian pamphlet writer and American Family Association (AFA) weekly radio host. Apparently BoA didn’t think bringing in an employee of an SPLC-certified hate group was a good idea.

Anyway, the story’s been making the rounds, and this bit of audio from an interview Turek did with AFA’s Tim Wildmon and Tony Perkins (leader of the Family Research Council, another SPLC-certified hate group).

[wpaudio url=”http://blog.mattalgren.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/frank-turek-gay-pride-9-2-11-part-1.mp3″ text=”Frank Turek Can’t Figure Out Gay ‘Pride'”]

It's not that complicated, Frank.
It's not that complicated, Frank.
Anytime you have to call something “pride,” there’s a problem with it, particularly when it comes to behavior because you don’t hear people walking around saying “heterosexual pride” … Although I think there was some parade down in Brazil or something recently…

Pride? Pride? Pride is, as we all know, really the root of all sin; we want to do it our way rather than God’s way.

Laying aside for a moment the tried-and-true false “homosexuality is just behavior” rhetoric, I want to bring Turek’s fixation with the word “Pride” to your attention. That’s a common problem people (usually anti-gay people) have with the LGBT-rights movement.

(To make this post simpler, I’ll also lay aside the troublesome parallels between the concepts of Heterosexual Pride in response to Gay Pride and White Power in response to Black Power. Oh wait, I guess I won’t.)

Fortunately for us, British comedian Dick Coughlan recently addressed the issue of pride, covering it quite well. He even talked about the Straight Pride Parade in São Paulo, Brazil that Turek mentioned.

Coughlan begins the video (NSFW, by the way) with some comments on completely heterosexual Republican Indiana State Rep. Phil Hinkle’s Craig’s List problem, which I still haven’t gotten around to bringing up here, before segueing into the portion quoted below.

Gay people tend to be a group, who, within a great deal of, unfortunately, so-called “civilized society” are made to feel ashamed and embarrassed for what they are. They are told that they are wrong, they are immoral, what they are and what they do is disgusting, and they should be ashamed.

And so in response to that, they decide to say, “Fuck you, we’re not ashamed, so we’re going to have a Pride March.” It’s not really a pride march, because you are born this way, there is no pride in being born a certain way, but what they’re actually saying is “We are not ashamed.”

That’s what it’s about, yeah? “We are not ashamed.” You can’t really call it a We Are Not Ashamed March; It doesn’t have the same ring to it.

That about says it. Any questions, Frank?

[box]AFA audio from Right Wing Watch, which has more audio that I didn’t include. If you aren’t reading every RWW post every day, you’re missing out. Seriously, y’all, they’re not to be missed.[/box]

Following FOX’s Racist Reaction, Common Performs At The White House

Speaking of racism, Jon Stewart took to The Daily Show to call out FOX for their latest manufactured controversy, this time after First Lady Michelle Obama invited famous poet Common to perform at the White House’s annual Poetry Slam last week.

FOX’s reaction was…let’s just say it was transparently racist.

(I don’t know why Comedy Central split the segment in two, but watch both parts. Because I said so, that’s why.)

Standing ovation for Jon Stewart, folks. Once again he’s right on the money.

Of course, the show did go on and Common did perform at the White House. Here’s a quick snippet of Common’s performance. It isn’t included in the White House video because he sampled a copyrighted work, but this will have to do until someone releases the whole thing.

UPDATE 5/15: A few minutes ago, Common posted a fuller (but still not complete) version of his performance that includes some behind the scenes moments and a word from back in his hotel room after the Poetry Slam. Enjoy!

(Do watch the official video. There are some damn fine performances in there. I adored Jill Scott' selections.)

Racism, Baratunde Thurston, and My White Privilege

In late April, President Obama posted his long-form birth certificate, a move in large part due to Birther Donald Trump’s recent stoking of the issue. I’ve spent the last two weeks or so trying to unpack my reaction to it and more specifically, what that reaction says about me as a white person.

When the news broke on April 27, I groaned and cussed a few times because the whole Birther thing is so stupid and plainly racist. If you were following me on the twitter machine, you saw a little frustration, then a spate of retweeted jokes about it.

Then I went on with my day and didn’t really give it much thought. I certainly didn’t consider how it affected me personally.

That evening, I came across this video by Baratunde Thurston and started to question both my attitude and my unintended white privilege.

(If you haven’t seen them, here are President Obama’s press conference and Trump’s press conference, which led to Thurston’s video.)

As I watched that Thurston’s video for the first time, I recognized the look on his face. I’d last seen it in my own mirror last autumn when so many gay little boys and young men killed themselves, leaving me feeling like I was being punched in the gut over and over for six weeks.

I remember seeing my LGBT friends experience the same feelings and verbalize the urgency that goes with them, but then seeing my straight friends distractedly say “That’s so sad,” shrug it off, and then talk about a LOLCAT.

After processing the resulting anger over the situation, I finally gained a grudging understanding that my straight and cis-gender friends had the privilege of not being so personally affected by the deaths. They were able to put the deaths in the category of “wrong things that happen” and set them aside, while we were forced to know them as “wrong things that happen to us.”

Much to my disappointed surprise, I found myself in the position of my straight friends on April 27, as my African American friends were all over facebook and twitter in obvious pain and reasonable rage over the Birther nonsense while I got to make a joke of it.

My point here is part mea culpa and part call to mindfulness. If you’re in a majority group, be mindful of the inequities that others are living with that you haven’t even considered.

And then…do your best to shed your privilege.

Martin Luther King’s Death Helps Birth Diversity Education Techniques

Forty-three years ago yesterday, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. I’ve written about Dr. King several times before, like when audio of a speech long thought lost was discovered and restored in 2010. I often go back to his Letter From Birmingham Jail and his sermon The Drum Major Instinct. They are rich sources of inspiration, and I encourage you to click both those links and read or listen without leaving this page.

January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968
January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968

Since I’ve covered a lot of ground on Dr. King, I’d like to offer something that began as a result of his assassination. Frustrated by the flatly bigoted way that television news reported on Dr. King’s death, third grade teacher Jane Elliott began teaching her all-white students in Riceville, Iowa about racism and bigotry by segregating them into brown-eyed and blue-eyed groups for a few days.

That groundbreaking exercise was explored two years later in the ABC special The Eye of the Storm, and later in 1985 with the PBS Frontline documentary A Class Divided, which pulled pieces of the earlier special and looked at what those students had to say 16 years later and followed Ms. Elliott in her role as the foremother of corporate diversity training, a role that she continues today.

The entire video of A Class Divided is embedded below, courtesy of PBS. Please find an hour to watch it today, 43 years after it began. It’s a fascinating idea with surprising and sometimes unintended results.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich to African American Senator: “I Don’t Need Your People”

Last week, I mentioned in passing that new Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) had appointed Ohio’s first all-white cabinet since 1962.

I let it go at that because it’s simply absurd and I presumed that Gov. Kasich (R) would correct his mistake if not because it’s right, then because it’s good politics. Unfortunately for all Ohioans, I gave the governor too much credit.

"I don't need your people."
"I don't need your people."

What Mr. Kasich (R) should have done when the lack of minority leadership was brought to his attention is recognize that diversity in leadership is just plain good business and then promptly correct himself. Instead, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner (D) of the Cleveland area reports that when she offered to assist him in finding good candidates of color, he replied with an astonishing “I don’t need your people.” (Via Plunderbund, via Ohio Capitol Blog)

Gov. Kasich’s office has confirmed this quote, by the way, but claim that he was referring to political party rather than race.

I want to believe that Gov. Kasich (R) meant that he didn’t need Democrats and not African Americans. I really do. But after his press secretary told me less than a week before that discriminating against trans people is “appropriate,” I’m not sure I can. If he finds discrimination against one group “appropriate,” why should I believe that he finds discrimination against another group inappropriate?

And even if he meant Democrats, saying “I don’t need [Democrats]” is a bizarre statement to make at the beginning of his term. More importantly, it doesn’t match his public rhetoric of bringing all Ohioans together. Does he really mean to suggest that Democrats aren’t welcome in the Ohio government? In some ways, this explanation is just as bad as the most obvious one!

So either Gov. Kasich (R) is racist or he wants to nullify the votes of many Ohioans who are more progressive and sent Democrats to Columbus.

Whichever you believe, this governor is off to a rocky start.

Martin Luther King Calls All to be Maladjusted

In January, I told you about the newly found audio of a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. at Bethel College that had been thought lost forever. At the time, the college didn’t have legal permission to release the audio, but this week I learned that the King family has given Bethel College the limited permission to publish the speech for 31 days only.

King gave this speech on January 21, 1960. As you listen, remember that he spoke these words just ten days before The Greensboro Four began the lunch counter sit-in movement that would see Dr. King himself arrested in October.

Here, then, is that speech, in astonishingly well-restored audio. I’ve included a link to the official transcription as well.

[wpaudio url=”http:///blog.mattalgren.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/martin-luther-king-bethel-college-lost-speech.mp3″ text=”Lost Martin Luther King Speech”]

I’m struck by how sadly relevant much of Dr. King’s speech still is, especially in relation to the LGBT civil rights movement. We still have much to learn from this American prophet. There are so many quotes I could pull to make this point, but I’ll limit myself to one short paragraph and urge you to listen to the entire speech and Q&A session.

[T]here are some things in our world and in our social system to which I’m proud to be maladjusted. I call upon you to be maladjusted. I never intend to adjust myself to the evils of segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence. I call upon men and women all over our nation and over the world for that matter to be maladjusted. For you see, it may well be that the salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted.

Be maladjusted.
Be maladjusted.

The Dangers of Desegregation

One of the emerging and familiar defenses in Perry v Schwarzenegger is that marriage for LGB people would damage society. It seems like a dumb defense to me, and one that Boies and Olson are poking plenty of holes in. It smacks of the Majority’s complaints when the US Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation was unconstitutional.

I got to thinking (always a dangerous undertaking): While I acknowledge that there is no 1:1 union between the fight for women’s civil rights and the fight for racial minorities’ civil rights and LGBT people’s civil rights (etc.), there are often overlaps from one to another. Is this one area of commonality? How might our current struggle overlap that of the Civil Rights movement in the mid-20th century?

Lucky for us, there are some fantastic search tools available online, including one to find old news. Here’s what I found from the Milwaukee Journal on October 20, 1955. I’ll transcribe for the search engines, with apologies for the language of 1955. (Click the title to go to that article in the archive.)

Keep in mind that this happened after the Supreme Court had ruled against segregation and Separate-But-Equal laws.

Court Backs Negro BanCourt Backs Negro Ban

Ruling in Florida
Tallahassee, Fla -(AP)-The Florida supreme court ruled Wednesday that Negroes could not be admitted to the all-white University of Florida until a determination had been made whether there would be harmful effects.

The 5 to 2 decision had the effect of delaying integration of the races in the university, and possibly the public schools, for several months to a year or more.

The majority opinion said that the United States supreme court had knocked out segregation in classrooms but that, in line with the high tribunal’s order of last May 31, local conditions must be taken into account in working out integration of the races.

Sought to Study Law
The Florida court handed down its decision in the case of Virgil Hawkins, 48 year old Daytona Beach Negro, who applied six years ago for admission to the University of Florida law school. He had filed suit in the courts after being denied admission.

In Hawkins’ case, the court appointed a commissioner to take testimony to determine when it would be possible for him to be admitted to the university without creating “public mischief.”

Tells of “God’s Decree”
Justice Glenn Terrell, dean of the court, wrote a defense of segregation in an opinion concurring with the majority holding. He said that the United States supreme court in ordering desegregation in public schools had “reversed a decree of God Almighty.”

“When God created man he allotted each race to his own continent according to color — Europe to the white man, Asia to the yellow man, Africa to the black man and America to the red man,” wrote Terrell.

“But now we are advised that God was in error and must be reversed.”

But that’s not all! The next day, the Milwaukee Journal published the following editorial about the Florida court’s decision.

Law (?) in Florida's High CourtLaw (?) in Florida’s High Court

The dean of Florida’s supreme court, Justice Glenn Terrell, made legal history of a sort the other day in an opinion concurring with a majority decision of the court that Negroes could not be admitted to the all-white University of Florida until a determination had been made whether there would be harmful effects.

“When God created man,” wrote Justice Terrell, “He allotted each race to his own continent according to color–Europe to the white man, Asia to the yellow man, Africa to the black man, and America to the red man.”

Therefore, the justice reasoned, the United States supreme court “reversed a decree of God Almighty” by directing the end of segregation in the classroom.

If all that the learned justice asserts is true, by what divine right does he reside in America? By what right, indeed, do any of the rest of us–of white, black or yellow skin? Isn’t it our holy duty to give this nation back to the red man forthwith–by order of the Florida supreme court?

We further wonder whether Justice Terrell realizes that his opinion “reversed” a former governor of his state. Fuller Warren–not to be confused with Chief Justice Earl Warren, former governor of California–often spoke of Florida as the site of the Garden of Eden. If God chose Florida as the abode for the man He created, where better than in Florida should all of Adam’s children live in harmony and brotherhood and equality–no matter what the tint of their skin?

The Pro-Prop 8, anti-gay defendants’ case and the Anti-Prop 8, pro-gay plaintiffs’ response are strikingly similar to these from 1955. The question before us is whether the US Supreme Court in 2010 will agree with the 1955 Florida court or the 1955 federal court.

Also at stake: 55 years from now, will people be ashamed or proud of the court’s decision? The court gets to choose.

* * *

One more thing. Notice that big black box in the first screencap? There’s another article under it that shows again that some things never change.

NAACP Is Assailed
NAACP Is Assailed

Atlanta, Ga.–Eugene Cook, Georgia’s attorney general, Wednesday accused the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of “subversion” in its antisegregation crusade.

Cook said that activities of the group “and its local fronts pose a serious threat to the peace, tranquillity (sic), government and way of life of our state,” and hinted that he would take steps to have the organization banned in Georgia.

He said that the NAACP’s real design was to “force upon the south the Communist inspired doctrine of racial integration and amalgamation.”

[In New York, a spokesman for the NAACP said that Cook’s speech “apparently was part of a conspiracy” to combat the United States supreme court’s ban on segregated public schools. Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the NAACP, charged that Cook’s speech was “full of distortions, word juggling, free translations and untruths.”]

For goodness sake, Cook all but called it a Radical Negro Agenda.