The 20-something me would consider the 30-something me a bleeding-heart liberal. Though I still hate political correctness, I no longer find it valuable to attack PC by charging off in the opposite direction, making insensitive remarks that even if right in fact were so wrong in form. I’m not the first political pundit to use excessive hyperbole. I might be one of the few to admit being embarrassed about it.
This embarrassment is particularly true concerning my own region, the South, where slavery, segregation, and institutional racism left a heavy mark. I still detest those on the left and right who exploit racial tension for their own purposes. But I detest even more the inhumanity suffered by African-Americans in our early and later history. T.S. Eliot said, “humankind cannot bear too much reality,” and it is impossible for those of us living in the new millennium to comprehend that absolute horror of being treated like chattel by your fellow man, or being terrorized by your neighbors, because of the color of your skin.
Books, memorials, and museums will never be able to adequately convey such tragedy, at least not in any manner remotely comparable to the pain of those who lived it.
The debate over gay marriage has been portrayed as the civil rights struggle of our time. I’m generally a supporter of same-sex unions and hold the same view as President Obama—I’m personally for it, but believe it should be decided at the state level. I find it legally objectionable that those in longstanding same-sex relationships do not have the same inheritance, tax, and hospital-visitation rights as straight couples. Whatever the courts or states decide now and in the future, I hope this changes.
That said, gay marriage is simply not on par with the black civil rights struggle. Not even close.
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