Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 18, 2012

The aftermath of President Obama’s expression of support for same sex marriage has been, as noted before, predictable, both in the nature of the support and the opposition. Nevertheless, there is a gaggle of black ministers who are engaging in behavior that can only be described as mystifying. And this week it was announced that last year was the first year in American history when there were more non-white births than white births. The browning of America continues. And finally, in New York City, a federal court has commented on the seeming unconstitutional nature of the NYPD Stop and Frisk policy. And it’s about time.

Nose Cutting Time

“Cutting of your nose to spite your face” is an old expression with a meaning that is very clear. Damaging yourself in order to respond to a real or imagined wrong simply doesn’t make any sense.

And that’s why the frightening number of black ministers who have proclaimed their intention not to support Barack Obama’s reelection campaign because of his stance on same sex marriage is puzzling. Let us put aside the fact that the gay community has been a very real part of the black church for a very long time. Let us also put aside the fact that homosexual and heterosexual indiscretions are an unspoken part of the narrative that describes the black church in America.

While we are all entitled to our minor hypocrisies, these black pastors should not be permitted to erode and corrode the support of one of President Obama’s key constituencies over an issue that defines neither this president or the critical needs and challenges of the black community.

Gay men and women are not the reason for the unspeakable levels of black on black violence in the black community. The gay community is not wrecking the financial system nor is it shredding the social safety net that endangers the lives and welfare of so many black men, women and children.

Certainly unemployment, poor housing, poor education and mindless media assaults present greater dangers to the institution of marriage than men who love men and women who love women. And I am not aware of any gay leadership in the Tea Party movement that threatens to take this country back to the 19th century.

But finally and most importantly, where will these pompous and self-righteous pastors go to hide their stained and miserable consciences if their statements of moral indignation serve to facilitate the election of Mitt Romney and open the floodgates to the Tea Party hordes that are hammering at the gates of good government?

Problem Solved

The recent announcement that non-white births are now exceeding white births in this country might help to solve a nagging question. For the past few years I have wondered at the willingness of the Teapublicans and the right wing of the right wing to abandon the future for the sake of the present.

While proclaiming concern for “the children of future generations”, the Teapublican agenda has called for “shrinking government to a size where it can be drowned in a bath tub”. This paints a very dull and gray picture for these “future generations”.

However, it may be that the Teapublicans have been reading their tea leaves and have seen the writing on the demographic wall. If indeed America is going to be less white and more black and brown, it seems that the singularly monochromatic Teapublicans do not want this darker future generation to have access to the public benefits that whiter generations of the past enjoyed. And they certainly do not intend to pay for it.

This would explain the contention that Americans will need to be more “self-reliant” and that the age of so-called entitlements will have to come to an end. And all along diminishing tax revenues so that government services will contract is the daily catechism of the right wing of the right wing.

The underlying rationale for the Teapublican philosophy is before us in black and white and brown.

The Saga of Stop and Frisk

I have previously pointed out the unconstitutional aspect of the New York Police Department “stopping and frisking” hundreds of thousands of black and Latino young men in the name of crime prevention. The fact that New York has enjoyed a reduction in crime does not justify this most severe intrusion into the lives of innocent people. Indeed, if everyone were to be arrested then there would be no crime but hopefully no one thinks that is a good idea….yet.

Now a federal court has indicated that there is a very real possibility that this policing policy may be declared unconstitutional. New York Mayor Bloomberg and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are staunch supporters of “stop and frisk” and minimize the impact of over 600,000 such stops in the past year (over 80% of the “stopped” individuals were black and Latino).

However, the children of privileged and secure white men are not being stopped. I doubt that Mayor Bloomberg or Commissioner Kelly have any personal acquaintances whose children have been “stopped and frisked”. The institutional assault on the rights and privacy of hundreds of thousands of young men cannot have a good long term result.

Certainly the community resentment and cynicism in the long term far outweighs any short term crime reduction that may be taking place. Chipping away at respect for law enforcement and building enmity just doesn’t sound like a plan for the future on which we can rely.

Have a great weekend!