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Monday, October 11, 2010

A Dysfunctional Bigot

Carl Paladino wants to be the next Governor of the State of New York. Yeah, good luck on that one. At more than 20 points down in recent polls, Paladino is given very little chance to defeat his opponent, Andrew Cuomo.
But that hasn't stopped Paladino from pulling out all the stops to draw attention to himself, and while we normally wouldn't help him in that cause, his latest stunt cannot go without mention. When speaking to a group of Jewish leaders, Paladino said, "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual. That's not how God created us, and that's not the example that we should be showing our children - and certainly not in our schools." Paladino went on to say that our children shouldn't be "brainwashed" into believing that being gay is normal.
Listen, here's the deal. Paladino is ignorant; he's an idiot and a homophobe and a bigot. Let's start calling these people what they are. And in a perfect world, people like Paladino could be prosecuted in a court of law for helping to create an environment where gay teens are bullied to the point of suicide, and other gay teens in the Bronx are sodomized with toilet plungers. People like Paladino should have to answer for the harm they're causing.
But we'd like to make a bigger point. We were history majors in college, and one cannot study American history without learning that with every example of monumental social change, there are always the Progressives and there are the Knuckle-Draggers. The Progressives fight for forward movement, whether it's the abolition of slavery, the creation of child work laws, the fight for full citizenship for Native Americans, the right for women to vote, the Civil Rights Act, Roe v. Wade, etc., etc., etc. And in every single case of social change, the Knuckle-Draggers, (almost always Republicans), fight that change tooth and nail, with every fiber of their beings. But change always comes, and in time, those Knuckle-Draggers are always shamed and scorned for their backward thinking and for their misguided attempts to prevent that change. We'll never forget being in college in the 1980's and attending a lecture by Orval Faubus, who was a Governor of Arkansas in the 1950's. Faubus made national headlines in 1957 when he attempted to prevent the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, and thus became one of the unofficial leaders of the anti-Civil Rights movement. But by the 1980's, Faubus was deeply ashamed of what he had done, and although too late to make a difference, he seemed sincerely sorry for what he had helped to create. (George Wallace, the former governor of Alabama, took a similarly regretful stance late in life.) We relate this story to let those who are now the victims of homophobia, that while the future promise of history won't stop the bullying today, you can at least know that, one day, the Carl Paladino's of the world will be the widespread objects of ridicule and scorn for their backward thinking. Paladino will enter that Hall of Shame that no one wants to enter, that Hall that includes slave-owners, white people who stood on the sidewalks and screamed at Black children who wanted to attend white schools, and political leaders who fought for decades against recognizing Native Americans and women as full citizens. It's a shameful Hall, one that represents the very worst of society and the very worst of human behavior. Congratulations, Carl Paladino, you might not ever be a governor, but you will at least go down in history.

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