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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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