Let me start by saying that I take little pleasure in writing any of this. As Markos recently pointed out, there is an election coming up, and now is the time to be focused like a laser on on keeping what we have - the White House, the Senate - and taking what we need - the House, state houses across the country, you name it, we need to win it. At this writing, the other side of the aisle is busy tearing down bedrock like the Voting Rights Act. No question, there is more to come, and little reason not to take them precisely at their word: that they will tear to shreds every last step forward this country has made over the last century. If you want a preview, look to Wisconsin.
Defeat is not an option, not if we care about handing down this Republic to the next generation in anything like the form we know. Let alone, G-d forbid, make it a better, more compassionate place.
And yes, the choice really is that stark, at least to my eyes. Me, I'm on board with this fight; have been for a very long time. We as Kossacks and the larger Progressive movement need to come together, E Pluribus Unum and all that. Go Team.
Which is why my reaction -- and that of quite a few LGBTQ Kossacks, you know, part of that team -- to this front-paged 'comic' was a sharp "You have got to be fucking kidding me". What bullshit is this?
But wait, there's more.
Yeah, I get it; sassy pose, clutching at pearls, limp wrist, fist on hip; the only gay cliché missing I at least can think of right now is a pair of hot pants, spandex or leather, take your pick. Nice touch with the rainbow flag halo there, too. And the rhinestones are where? What, no Barbra Streisand?
And that's your President right there: Weak. Effeminate. Trivial and homosexualized. A self-congratulating panderer busy ignoring stuff that really matters. Never mind that said President happens to be a black man, and that historically, black men have often been otherized with explicitly feminine stereotypes. Great Progressive messaging, that, and entirely appropriate on a left-wing blog in response to an epochal moment for an entire civil rights movement. Maybe something you'd really want some poor kid to see after he just got the stuffing kicked out of him on the school bus; a kid like I was once.
Do you know where that flag comes from? Let me tell you: it originated in San Francisco and became popular after the assassination of Harvey Milk. A man who was murdered for the sheer effrontery of being gay and then having the poor taste of making that private little fact public and political. In June, next month, you'll see it flying at every Gay Pride parade in the nation. That's when a lot of us, gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, straight, whatever, will take a day or two out of being second-class citizens in our own country and celebrate the fact that we're still here. That we survived, many of us at least, Reagan, Jesse Helms, the genocide of the AIDS epidemic, DOMA, all the other bipartisan stations of the cross our society has seen fit to place in our way. And all of that while quite a few good liberals looked the other way, one might add.
Now the simple fact is that the President of the United States just came out and said that gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, to have our relationships recognized by our own government. It's not often that you can feel the ground of history shifting under your feet, but this was one of those moments. It took him a while, no question, but it happened. Bill Clinton, by contrast, ran ads in swing states celebrating his legislative achievement of the Defense of Marriage Act. Does anyone wonder why this would mean so much to so many of us, given the history? Or fuck history, look at the present.
A point apparently lost on our cartoonist and quite a few commenters on his, pardon my Yiddish, piece of dreck. Self-described 'True Progressives' the lot of them by the looks of it, no less. Like here and here and here. Maybe I missed the memo where a step forward on anyone's civil rights is just an occasion to re-fight the same tired pitched battles that have been roiling this site for years.
So what is Progressivism, true or otherwise? Allow me to submit that, at the very least, it would seem to involve standing up for those that don't have a voice. To realize that the way you see things may not be the way I do, or that person over there, and that we have a god-damned right to our point of view, same as you. That you're not better than I am, or worse for that matter. To have perhaps a faint glimmer of appreciation that my life experience and yours may not be the same, nor the priorities that flow from it, but that this simple fact does not make us enemies. And maybe most importantly, that there is no one definition, rather, that there is a rainbow of colors and views, remarkably like in that flag our cartoonist implicitly mocked. This diversity is not a source of weakness -- it is the well-spring of our strength. In short, I'd say that progressivism is a philosophy, one that understands that no matter where you are in life, there will always be someone less well off, and that it's your damned job to change that as best you can.
Progressivism is broad and confident enough to have room for opinions you may not share and passions that aren't your own. Or is it?
3:15 PM PT: Folks, I hate doing the hit-and-run thing, but ACT UP New York meets at 7 pm. And I want to be there.