The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

What to Read While I’m on the Road

I’m overdue in posting a round-up, because so much has been going on in my offline life lately. Case in point, I’m on the road with the family today, and away from the blog and the blogosphere. So here’s some great stuff to check out in the meantime.

I haven’t had a chance to cover Obama’s remarks that the right has “hijacked” faith, but David Sirota makes a point that Obama has an opportunity to walk his talk by not appearing at a right wing think tank event.

…As I had discovered during my years in politics, one of the most aggressive extremist groups that operates at the state level is called the American Legislative Exchange Council – or ALEC for short. It’s a seemingly innocuous name, but as Progressive States detailed in one of its first reports – and as other terrific progressive organizations have detailed at length – ALEC is not an innocuous organization – it is arguably the most important legislative appendage of Big Money and right-wing interests in American politics. That’s why U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) must reject ALEC’s invitation for him to speak at its upcoming national conference.

… Obama is a former state legislator, meaning that he understands the power and destructive agenda of ALEC. If he has not accepted ALEC’s invitation, and ALEC is nonetheless using his notoriety to build an audience for its conference, Obama has a huge opportunity – a PR gift given to him by the Right. He could demand his photo be removed from ALEC’s website and marketing materials, and issue a strong statement talking about how nefarious right-wing extremist groups like ALEC really are, both tactically and public policy-wise. He would create a significant moment for public education about the real forces that drive – and distort – our politics.

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Speaking of religion, Pam’s post about anti-gay forces in the black religious community is worth checking out. (Obama might want to give it a read too, for another opportunity to counter the right wing “hijacking” of faith.) She posts an amazing speech by the late Yolanda King, who understood the scope of her father’s message and dream in a way that too many don’t.

It’s a dream about freedom. Freedom from exploitation, from oppression, from prejudice, from poverty, from violence. The dream of a nation and world where each and every child can have the opportunity to simply be the very best that they can be. I believe that along with racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism, homophobic attitudes and practices are unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who truly believe in Democracy.

… As my father said on numerous occasions, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny, an inescapable network of mutuality. I cannot be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.

As your theme states, we are equal. Conscience demands that freedom-loving people should have a policy of zero tolerance for the persecution and repression of any one or any group of people. Again to quote Martin Luther King, Jr., the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in terms of challenge and controversy.

Instead, black religious leaders spread anti-gay propaganda. Maybe that’s why it’s left to black actors to promote HIV awareness, since the largest black Baptist Church Convention took 25 years to even mention HIV/AIDS.

Twenty five years into AIDS crisis and many millions of death later, delegates of the National Baptist Convention USA, which ts the nation’s largest black religious organization and the historic of hgme of many prominent pastors and politicians, will for the first time tackle; the issue of HIV/AIDS in the black community. The group is in St. Louis for a week-long meeting and for the first time its health forum will discuss the issue of HIV/AIDS in the black community, the Springfield News-Leader .

The 7.5 million strong denomination has never addressed HIV/AIDS as part of a larger strategy because of the stigma associated with homosexuality and drug use, which it regarded as sinful and as “something only bad people get,” says Evelyn Mason, the groups’ health director, That attitude is changing as new data show HIV/AIDS is claiming more lives. “The numbers dictate we have to pay more attention and take ownership,” Mason said, “This disease has taken ownership of us.”

News flash, folks. It’s not just the epidemic that’s “taken ownership” of you. Think on that for a while.

Speaking of black “homobigots” (a term I’m borrowing from Pam), Queersighted has a great takedown of New York Daily News columnist Errol Lewis.

Believing himself to be a reasonable and open-minded man, Errol Louis of The New York Daily News calmly and reasonably writes that with every step we take towards legalizing same sex marriage, we nudge the legal door open just a little bit more for polygamy and incest.

One can’t help but to wonder–yet again– what incest and polygamy have to do with sexual orientation. The answer for any thinking and moral human being is a simple and clear “nothing”. Or to put it another way, incest has as much to do with same sex marriage as it has to do with interracial marriage–a crime in this country not so long ago that was viewed as a threat to the American family and all that we hold moral and good.

It’s fair to say that legalizing same sex marriage will have as much of an impact on West Virginia farmers and their daughters as did striking down laws that prevented marriage between blacks and whites.

Those West Virginia farmer’s may end up worrying about their sons marrying black men, but some people are still losing sleep over white women and black men, as Rachel points out.

It’s about interracial sex. Interracial crimes make big sensational news stories, but crimes that involve interracial sexuality arouse the deepest passions of American bigotry. The OJ Simpson case, the Duke Rape, the Kobe Bryant rape case, and now this one–they all have tremendous sexual overtones. For a long time, I was surprised at how much attention the Duke case received, because I was focused on the fact that the accuser in the case was black, but I missed the mark. It’s more than the races of the people involved; if the crime is perceived as involving interracial sex, something snaps in people, suddenly they perk up.

The truth of the matter is that the US is a culture obsessed with interracial sex, but nobody will say this in polite company. During the slave era and the Jim Crow era, white people spoke with repulsion and disgust at interracial sex even though many white men were routinely engaging in sexual encounters with black women. In the colorblind era, people are still obsessed with interracial sex. However, they do not publicly say, “Wow, interracial sex is: bizarre, disgusting, exciting, adventurous, morally repugnant,” and so on. That’s part of the reason nobody in the mainstream polite media is going to openly say–”Damn that negro had two white baby mama’s. He must have really been packing some heat below the belt. Why else would those white women be interested in him?” ((I don’t know if his wife is white or not, so I can’t comment on the third “baby mama.” Nobody is going to say, “Those white women are white trash, whores for sleeping with this black guy. They probably only did it for his big dick.” Nobody is going to say, “Why can’t these black men just take care of their kids and stopping hopping from bed to bed. Only a white women with no self esteem will get with a guy like that.” They are not saying these dispargaing comments publicly, but when they get home to their families and friends, they are saying it. When they go on line to search for interracial porn, they are thinking it. When they can leave anonymous comments on blogs, they are expressing it.

Jasmyne muttered the same plea many of us do when we hear news of a crime: “Please don’t let him be black.”

Uh huh, I said the same thing.

In case you don’t know, Bobby Cutts Jr., 30, of Canton, Ohio, has been formally charged with the murder of his girlfriend Jessie Davis, 26, who was missing for about a week before her body was found Saturday in a park. Cutts is the father of her 2-year-old son, and Davis’ relatives have said he is the father of the baby girl she was due to deliver July 3 and planned to name Chloe.

Oh Cutts’ bond? $5 million.

About one million of that is for the crime and the other four million is for sleeping with a white woman.

And for something completely different. All claims of not being a “gatekeeper” may be rendered null and void by this Mother Jones article on the “gatecrashers” of the progressive blogosphere.

Today, top liberal bloggers have become an elite in their own right—one that is increasingly part of the political hierarchy. They’ve joined campaigns and drummed up lucrative consulting work. One, Swing State Project contributor Tim Tagaris, was tapped by the Democratic National Committee to head up its Internet outreach efforts, went on to work on Ned Lamont’s Senate campaign, and is now a member of Senator Chris Dodd’s campaign staff. Berkeley-based Moulitsas is in regular communication with Democratic leadership aides, and, on occasion, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid himself, according to the Washington Monthly. “Politicians court big bloggers now,” says a national political reporter who wished to remain anonymous for fear of blogger wrath. “They have dinner with them. They have lunch with them. They stroke them in the hopes of getting favorable things written about them and harnessing that energy.” Some politicians probably prefer holding court with bloggers rather than old-school pundits, says Michael Turk, the e-campaign director for the Bush/Cheney ’04 campaign and, later, the Republican National Committee. “They say, ‘Here’s a way to make people who think like us echo our comments.'”

…”It’s a very conscious effort to build a power structure,” says Gross, the former Dean staffer who’s now advising John Edwards. “These are people who are not just blogging, but who are thinking very sophisticatedly about what the Republicans did for 20 years to get to the point of being able to dominate the cultural discourse.”

I’ll probably have more to say about that later. Right now, though, check out Renee’s post at Independent Bloggers Alliance, about why blogging matters.

I know we can all think of more egregious and damaging examples of media bias. Certainly, the media’s complicity in helping Bush sell the invasion of Iraq to the American public was one of the biggies. But more mundane examples, like the one I described above, are significant in their own way. They certainly are capable, for better or worse, of impacting the lives of ordinary people. Back then, blogging the other side of the story was not an option I had available to me. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that we now have this medium at our disposal. And that, when we work together, we have the ability to “set the record straight” in ways that can make a real, positive difference for people.

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