Friday, July 17, 2009

Blog Wars: My Challenge to a Young, Black Conservative

This is a repsonse to The Hip-Hop Republican, Lenny McAllister's blog:
GG's Lenny McAllister Tells Us Why?

Why can’t you defend your party? Rattling on and on about values and Lincoln and diversity of ideas is intellectually dishonest and doesn’t do the job. I truly respect your right not just as a black person but as an American to be a Republican. You owe me no explanation. But if you’re going to build a defense, your case needs work.

Ideology is made up of values. And legacy is made up of history. A party, however, is made up of people and policies. And you have registered with a party. You vote for elected officials within that party and support the policies of that party. So your defense of the party should begin there.

Talking about values is irrelevant. Many of them are universal and have far more to do with humanity than a particular political ideology. On a side note, I don’t think that Faith and Family registered in the past several elections so I don’t understand know how you conservatives repeatedly claim them as your own. Nevertheless if you want to list those and other values to define social and fiscal conservatism, fine. That is not the same as being a Republican.

As far as history goes, I don’t give a rat’s behind that Lincoln was a Republican. He also suffered from clinical depression, wore a really tall hat, and had a pet turkey. So what? Legacy and tradition are never good stand-alone reasons to make decisions and they certainly don’t recruit. On the contrary, remembering that Lincoln was a Republican should challenge current Republicans to act more like Lincoln, not current Independents and Democrats to respect a party that behaves in a manner completely antithetical to said icon.

Last but not least, please stop telling me “Black people shouldn’t all belong to just one party”. That still doesn’t make your party right. Choosing to be a Republican for the sake of variety within the black body politic is an insult to our ancestors that fought and died for you to exercise your vote. They did so with the intent of advancing justice and equality – not just some theoretical ideal of political diversity.

I am tired of you telling me to ignore the sick, dangerous people and policies of your party and to instead just look at…well…you. “Hey,” you say, “I know that I support harsh immigration policies, block large investments in health care reform and education, don’t believe that women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies, and so on. And I know that many of the leaders that I support and vote into office are racist, sexist homophobes and use religion to spread intolerance and fear. But I’m cool.” Apples and oranges. In fact, it just makes me all the more confused as to why someone so “cool”, who professes to care about the needs of the poor and believes in choice and freedom and values diversity, would choose to be a Republican.

So stop trying to sell me and my fellow black people a fake bag of goods. On balance, I support Democratic policies and while I have issues with almost all politicians, I can at least say that I am not regularly embarrassed or appalled by the words and actions of the people that I vote for. If you can’t say the same (which it seems to me, you’re having a difficult time doing right about now…), stop defending the indefensible and just fix it.

The Civil Rights Act in a Post-Obama World

originally posted on July 1, 2009: On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, where we stand and where we must go in continuing the struggle for civil rights in America.

As we commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 today, I am struck not only by how far America has come in her journey towards equality for all, but even more so by the unique challenge that we face to continue that journey in a social, cultural, and legal climate that prizes post-racialism over anti-discrimination and favors color-blindness and gender-blindness over equal opportunity.

Women leaders in fields where they are grossly underrepresented are
discouraged from joining gender-exclusive professional groups. Equal opportunity programs are being challenged in ballot initiatives in a growing number of states. As we see in this week’s Supreme Court ruling in Ricci v. DeStefano, employers are still required to avoid policies that are discriminatory in practice but are given little guidance or legal coverage in making those determinations. And all the while the achievement and access gaps for communities of color, and in some fields, women, is widening.

Many progressives predicted that society would suffer from many unintentionally un-progressive consequences in a post-Hilary, post-Obama world. The diminishing value being placed on pro-active, preemptive anti-discrimination policies and their original intent are a prime example.

It is for this very reason that we can no longer solely rely on traditional “civil rights” law (although there is still a dire need for such policies to be protected, strengthened, and aggressively enforced). As Congress currently debates landmark legislation in the areas of health care, higher education, and energy, it is vital that discussions of disparities, disproportionate impact, access, and bias be seriously taken into account and yield tangible provisions woven into the fabric of these and any other legislation that has implications for fields and opportunities where equality has not yet been achieved.

For those of us not satisfied living in a society where diversity efforts are blasé, acknowledgement of race is passé, conversations about gender are cliché, and civil rights laws are perverted with the support of our nation’s highest court, time is of the essence. We must fight to ensure that the current rapidly advancing progressive policies in education, healthcare and energy maintain the same explicit spirit of justice and equality that the Civil Rights Act was designed to impart.