Comparing the Indiana Legislature to the 20′s KKK is NOT Hyperbole

I’m sorry, RiShawn Biddle, but if you studied your history, like Chris Douglas and Gary Welsh have pointed out to you in several posts, you’d know better that to call it hyperbole. RiShawn is an editorialist for the Indianapolis Star, and posts to a “blog” on the newspaper’s site — which I still maintain is bizarre – if you write for a newspaper, it’s and editorial column, not a “blog.” Lately, RiShawn has taken it upon his bad self to tell the gay community that they need to be more civilized and “reasonable” while their rights are attack, claiming that making comparisons to the KKK and other oppressive bodies is “hyperbole.”
Gary Welsh points out [RiShawn Biddle Just Doesn't Get It] that in the 1920′s the KKK was in the background of legislation much like SJR-7:

Under our former constitution, our esteemed legislature decided to enact Article 13 (appropriately numbered) to our old constitution. It excluded new black arrivals from the state, barred interracial marriages and prohibited a black man from testifying against a white man, among other things. One of the state’s leading newspapers, the Sentinel, endorsed Article 13 so that the state would not be “overrun with a miserable population” according to the “Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly.” There were legislators at the time who decried racism at the same time they cast a vote in favor of it. One such legislator was Sen. James Hester (D) of Brown County. He described the proposed laws as “inhuman, and will . . . be inoperative in enlightened communities.” He said he, nonetheless voted for it because he believed a majority of his constituents wanted it.” A Whig newspaper in Madison, Indiana, distraught at the position of lawmakers like Hester, wrote:

There seems to be a determined and studied prejudice, against those unfortunate citizens who have a black skin, in the Legislature of this State at the present time. Constitutional privileges and natural rights–to say nothing of human sympathy–seem to be but feeble barriers when opposed to this prejudice. Some of these gentlemen are evidently courting popularity under the false impression, that public sentiment is as insane and inhuman as they will, doubtless, succeed in proving themselves to be.

At that time in history, the only legislators who voted against these racist laws were the Whigs. The Republican Party was just being born, and the Democrats, who dominated the legislature during some of this dark period, embraced the racist agenda. In the 1920s, it was the Republican Party which dominated the legislature and carried the torch for the KKK, although a number of Democrats joined forces with them as well. Fortunately, Article 13 was nullified after the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution following the Civil War. Such discrimination has never made its way back into our state’s constitution, although there have been plenty of discriminatory laws enacted by our esteemed legislature.
Now, David Long, Brandt Hershman, Brent Steele and all the others who champion SJR-7 as the end-all, be-all solution to preserving the sanctity of marriage can profess all they want that they aren’t anti-gay bigots. The fact remains they are carrying the torch for folks from the religious right, such as Eric Miller, Jim Bopp and Micah Clark, who most assuredly are anti-gay bigots. The end result is the same as Sen. Hester understood back in the 1850s when he cast his lot with political expediency over the fundamental rights of black people. When legislators cast a vote for the anti-gay bigot’s agenda, they are endorsing this form of bigotry, just as those legislators who supported the KKK’s agenda in the 1920s and the organized racists of the 1850s endorsed institutionalized racism and bigotry. Everyone knows SJR-7 will do absolutely nothing to stem the breakdown of “traditional marriage” as represented by a growing divorce rate and an increasing number of children being born out of wedlock. It’s purpose is to punish gay people–nothing more and nothing less.

And Chris points out [The Goebbels Experiment] that the Jewish community here in Indianapolis, who have spoken eloquently against SJR-7, recognize the parallels to their own history:

“Shortly, you will be either looking the other way from, or even supporting, measures that will denude your Jewish engineering professors of their rights of citizenship, because of your distaste for them… well.. not for your personal professor or tutor, who might be friends, but for ‘Jews’, who really will not be… well…’German’ enough.
“Then your alma mater will strip your professor of his ability to support his family, including his spouse who is sick. You will think that somebody maybe should have done something, except you will be too busy and you will not want to risk your own career by being identified as a friend of the Jews… not any Jew specifically… after all some , some will be friends…but.. you know… ‘The Jews.’ Anyway, your professor, from whom you learned much and upon whom the department depended for at least one area of expertise, will leave for another place, America, where a university will be willing to employ him. You will think that is regrettable, but perhaps think it was just as well. Especially, since his position will open for somebody who will truly be a friend, and not some abstract, unfortunate Jew.
“You will protest that what follows then will be the actions of others, not your own, for it would be unreasonable to pin on you and your inaction the fact that your beautiful and peaceful Germany will go on to invalidate Jewish marriages, to attack Jewish participation in all economic life, and to drive Jews from their neighborhoods. When the rights of Jews are being stripped in their early stages, all those things will appear too absurd for you to imagine. The Jews who will protest will appear unreasonable and alarmist, and all the more distasteful for it. After all, yours will appear to be a civilized society; though it will become uncivilized because of the actions of others, it will not be because of you. You couldn’t be blamed for what happened later… not the ghetto… not the extermination…. not the destruction of the peace, beauty, and civilization. Who will have thought?”
Nice little mental game, isn’t it?

RiShawn would do well to spend a bit more time reading history and a bit less time lecturing gay citizens on how best to protest the erosion of their basic civil rights.
To me — it’s all the same hate. The men pushing SJR-7 are no different, in my mind, than the guy who fired me from my job because I’m gay, or the guy who stalked and raped me, or the guy who pistol-whipped my roommate in the alley outside Greg’s Place downtown.
One takes their hate and puts it into action by crafting hate-filled legislation, and the other used the blunt-force of a gun handle against someone’s skull – why do I have to treat one differently then the other? They have the same devastating effect on my life, either way; I fail to see any real distinction between the two. But I have to engage in “principled, reasonable discussion” with one, but not the other? Mary, please.
A bigot by any name is still a fucking bigot.

Posted in GLBT Issues, Indiana, Indianapolis, Politics, Religion Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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