Sunday, June 25, 2006

Leon Gray/"Progressive Talk 680"/What is a "Progressive"?

I hate to say it, but I'm so glad Leon Gray is no longer on "Progressive Talk" 680 am. He was a very nice person, but sometimes listening to him was almost as frustrating as listening to Mike Flemming on the conservative talk 600 AM. In fact, I doubt many people could tell the difference between them if they listened to them side by side on issues like gay rights, abortion, school prayer, creationism v. evolution, etc.

It was on the issue of gay rights that Leon Gray really dropped the "progressive" ball. I've never heard anyone, conservative or liberal, become so unintelligible on the issue of homosexuality and gay rights as Leon Gray. He clearly had some personal religious hang ups that kept him from being able to fully understand gay issues or defend the civil rights of gays and lesbians. He just couldn't do it, despite some attempts, genuine I think, to learn about and reach out to the gay community.

The main problem for Leon Gray and many in the African-American community is that they do not want to "equate" the civil rights of gays with the civil rights struggle of African-Americans. Granted, there are some differences between blacks and gays. Being black is not the same thing as being gay. BUT, being black is also different from being Jewish, female, poor, buddhist, atheist, ect... All of these groups, including gay people, have been oppressed because of their "differences." Like all social minorities, gay people have been singled out for prejudice and discrimination because of their "difference" from the powerful majority. Leon Gray, and evidently, many African Americans, just cannot see the common theme of oppression of all social minorities

The issue, the basis, of civil rights, is NOT whether people can "choose" to be gay, etc., it is the social oppression of these groups! People can CHOOSE to be Christian fundamentlists or atheists, but they all have CIVIL RIGHTS. I'm tired of having the same old arguments about whether people "choose" to be gay or not.. it is IRRELEVANT! It is a smokescreen to confuse the real issues!

Another problem I see for the Democratic Party (especially in Shelby County) is that a large part of the African-American community is dominated by conservative religious fundamentalist churches and preachers. It is shocking to hear some of the anti-gay, anti-liberal rhetoric coming out of some of these black churches. (Some even take out full page ads in the newspaper attacking gays and lesbians!) The problem is that the predominantly fundamentalist black churches are part of the right-wing Religious Right! They share the same political and social beliefs as the Christian Right in the Republican Party!
How can the Democratic Party defend the separation of church & state, gay rights, abortion rights, etc. when a large part of its "base" is part of the Religious Right??

This is why Howard Dean went on the 700 Club to pander to the anti-gay religious fundamentalists, even "misstating" the Democratic Party platform on the rights of gays and lesbians to marry. This is why Harold Ford Jr. and other Democratic politicians in Tennessee are campaignign AGAINST the civil rights of gays and lesbians, including but not limited to marriage. It is a BIG problem which the Republicans are exploiting very successfully. The Democratic Party must either stand up and defend the principles of equality and social justice, or pander to the bigotry of the Religious Right and the Republican Party.

Back to Progressive Talk 680 AM, my advice is that Progressive Talk 680 AM replace Leon Gray with a REAL PROGRESSIVE. We need someone to take on the Republican and Religious Right. What does it mean to be "liberal" or "progressive"?? Leon Gray accused people like me of being too "intolerant" of different points of view among "progressive" Democrats. I don't think all progressives and liberals should or can agree on 100% of every issue, but there are some basic principles which should define what a "progressive/liberal" viewpoint is on an issue, and here are some very basic ones we SHOULD be able to agree on:

Separation of Church and State! This is NOT a Christian country! Defend the First Paragraph in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution! The government should NOT be promoting Christianity, the "Ten Commandments" or creationism in our public schools and institutions! Furthermore, the government cannot limit the reproducitive rights of people based on religious interpretations of scriptures!

Social Justice and Equality. This applies to ALL oppressed groups, including gays, lesbians, transgender people, women, blacks, hispanics, Jews, atheists, buddhists, etc... Civil Rights are for all, not just black people! And civil rights are not based on biological differences that people cannot choose or change! Whether people can choose to be gay, transgender or jewish is NOT the issue! Progressives should support social programs to promote the "social welfare" of its citizens, especially the poor, children, etc. Progressives should support the principle that basic necessities like healthcare, food and housing are a basic human right of all people.

Peace. Progressives and liberals should stand for peace, and oppose war unless absolutely "necessary" to DEFEND the United States. Progressives should oppose wasteful military spending and oppose illegally attacking on invading other countries.

There are a few basic principles "progressives" should agree on and defend.

I Hope Progressive Talk 680 will choose a local radio host who shares these principles. Leon Gray did NOT.

(I'm available on weekends :)

Jim Maynard

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post.

I hate when anti-gay blacks say 'Don't make your sin about the color of our skin'. They don't grasp the notion of civil rights.

And I'm glad someone else agrees that the whole issue of nature vs nuture and whether it is a choice or not is completely irrelevant.