What Gays Can Teach Blacks About Civil Rights

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I’ve been mulling over this column by Andrew Sullivan on Rick Warren. He gets it right; his logic is elegant and even moving.

“And this Rick Warren flap at its core, I think, is about the difference between those who see a civil rights movement as a means to wield power and those who see it as a means to spread freedom.”

“My long conflict with some parts of the gay left is precisely about this distinction, and [his book] Virtually Normal was an attempt to construct a theory for gay civil rights which rests on as much freedom and as little power as possible. I want to live in a free society alongside people who genuinely believe I am a sinner destined for hell – and I want to get along with them. I am concerned (but not obsessed) with changing their minds, but totally repelled by the idea of coercing or pressuring them to do so. I am simply interested in having the government treat me as it would treat them. Once we establish that, we can all believe and say and argue for precisely what we want.”

Amen, brother. The civil rights movement wasn’t about forcing America to love black people. It was about forcing America to treat us like other citizens and otherwise leave us the hell alone. So what if the guy next door hates blacks or faggots? Hate on, moron. Unless he takes some sort of action that infringes on my rights—like burning a cross or gay-bashing me. Then my government better damn well ride to the rescue.

Too many blacks, I think, have forgotten this essential truth about our quest for justice. It’s not about power. It’s about freedom. And it shames me the extent to which blacks are using their all too new power to help oppress others. Any time a black person invokes the phrase ‘civil rights’, they should be required to define the term. I got a dollar that says most will wax eloquent on black rights and the wrongs done them. All too few would speak in universal terms. Don’t let them (us) get away with it. They’ll thank you later.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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