Monday, June 28, 2010

Pride . . . In the name of Love . . .

Yesterday Gay Pride Marches took place across the country (June is Pride Month). As Lore Croghan, Michael J. Feeny and Katie Nelson (New York Daily News) note the Iraq War veteran Lt Dan Choi was one of the parade marshals. Glenn Zimmerman (NBC NYC) reports Dan was "the first openly gay male in the military to serve as a grand marshal in a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender pride march" and quotes him stating, "I am absolutely proud to violate don't ask don't tell all the way down this street today."

In other Pride news, noted homophobe Robert Byrd has died.

Robert Byrd

The 92-year-old US senator's death in office -- on the heels of Ted Kennedy's -- yet again stresses the need for mandatory retirement in the Senate. (In the House? House members have to run every two years, not every six. As with Ted, it was obvious Byrd was not up to the job and struggling after his most recent election.) Byrd opposed the sixties Civil Rights legislation -- surprising only if you're unaware of his KKK membership. In more recent decades, Byrd wanted to insist that his bigotry was in the past. As we noted June 3rd:

I'm aware that many gas bags on the left worked overtime to paint Robert Byrd as the second coming of MLK. He is far from that. This site has never sang his praises for obvious reasons. If you're not who you appear and I know that, we don't waste time singing your praises. That's why we never got caught up in the Keith Olbermann love-fest.

Some visitors feel that Byrd's being held to a different standard because others are homophobic too.

There are members of Congress who are homophobic and if they say something stupid in a hearing I attend, they may get called out for it here. If they say something homophobic, they will be called out for it.

I like Ike Skelton who chairs the House Armed Services Committee. I've known him for years and I like him. He's opposed to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I'm not ripping him apart for his opinion and I hope (as do many) he changes his mind.

But Ike or anyone else in Congress doesn't have Byrd's history. Byrd's refusal to lead on this issue is appalling. It's part of why I don't trust him and never have. He was a KKK member. That's years ago, people want to whine. And I'm sure that someone his age could have been a member of the KKK and could have later learned how horrible their support for and membership in that organization was. I believe that. We can learn, the human species has the capability to learn from mistakes.

But here's the thing with Byrd, he wants to be forgiven (and more than that, he wants it forgotten) that he once very publicly was against equality. We're all supposed to believe he learned a lesson in that. I see no evidence of a lesson. The man's got a foot in the grave, I'm not going to pretty it up. His time is greatly limited on this earth. And he's wants to be seen as someone who would now support equality though he didn't in real time. But now he would. He insists. Then why wasn't he leading on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

I'm sorry, I don't think you're that close to death and you work against equality if you truly want to put your past behind you.

FYI, days after that, Ike Skelton said a stupid thing about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He was called out here the morning of June 9th and a large portion of that also ran in that day's snapshot. And I also pitched a parody at Third that we didn't have time for. I do like Ike and I strongly disagree with him on this issue. The fact that I know and like him has not prevented me from calling him out on the issue if he makes a stupid statement.

Robert Byrd was not a young man. He could have embraced equality. He made the choice not to. That's his legacy.

You better think about your legacy
That you want to leave behind
It's all getting burnt out, used up
Bought and sold to the bottom line
That ain't the way it's gotta be
You can leave a better world than you find
You can look down, turn aside, run away
But you can't get it out of your mind
'cause it's your legacy

-- "Legacy" written by Carole King and Rudy Guess, appears first on King's City Streets album.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "White House 'stud'" went up last night. Also note that Tariq Ali is Matthew Rothschild's guest on this week's Progressive Radio. We'll close with this from Larry Everest's "Emergency Committee to Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster Disrupts BP-Government Disinformation Meeting" (World Can't Wait):

Since the beginning of this nightmare, BP, and various government agencies -- including the Coast Guard, the EPA, NOAA, and the Dept. of Energy -- have been holding "open houses," or "informational meetings" across the state of Louisiana and beyond, to try and reassure people that they're doing all they can to stop this catastrophe, that they're on top of the situation, that they really want to hear peoples' concerns and give them all the information and help they need. In reality, those attending hear a stream of double-talk, obfuscation, vague promises, and outright lies. These are very deliberate exercises in disinformation and pacification, with BP and the government working together in an attempt to paralyze people, keep the lid on the situation, and maintain their legitimacy.
Initially, people in the audience were able to come up to a mike and make statement or ask questions of the assembled officials.
But after scorching condemnations and persistent and revealing grillings at these meetings (like one I attended in Venice, Louisiana several weeks ago), BP and the government have abandoned this format. Now after a few hollow preliminary statements, people are shuffled off individually to various informational tables -- with no time to interrogate these officials in front of everyone and the media.
So tonight, a group of us from the Emergency Committee challenged this whole setup -- some outside handing out our Mission Statement and Demands (and a few of us selling Revolution as well), and some inside. When New Orleans' Mayor Mitch Landrieu introduced the meeting, Elizabeth Cook shouted out "what about fish kills?!" Landrieu claimed we'd get to that. A few moments later I asked/demanded that these officials answer questions in front of everyone not send everyone -- 150 or so people in the room and the assembled dozen or so TV cameras. Landrieu was forced to say OK to this -- how would it have looked to prevent people from questioning BP and government officials, after promising to be completely open and tell people anything they wanted to know?

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