Over the weekend, President Obama gave what is almost universally considered one of his best public oratories to date. Obama spoke passionately and inclusively standing on the famous bridge where Congressman John Lewis and other people trying to find justice were savagely beaten by government agents 50 years before. Obama spoke of us all being each other in a kindred way. Even if we disagree with the cause, we respect the right of the individual to express themselves. A philosophy that is All-American and famously iterated by Evelyn Beatrice Hall when she wrote the oft quoted words that are considered the best summary of the principle of free speech:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
There was one group who chose to willfully ignore President Obama’s whole speech, instead, focusing on one phrase and manufacturing it to be a personal attack and slander on them. That’s right, you guessed it, the conservatives. A group that seems to be more radicalized with each passing day. Instead of focusing on things like this:
We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South. (Applause.) We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened up the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.
We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent. And we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, and the Navajo code-talkers, and the Japanese Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied.
We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They focused on this one line:
We’re the gay Americans whose blood ran in the streets of San Francisco and New York.
That’s right. While it’s ok, according to everyone to “be” a ranch hand, cowboy, railroad worker, a construction worker – even if they are a union worker, a firefighter, a soldier or a Japanese American who was sent to an American concentration camp, but it’s not okay to be gay. Forget the free speech principles outlined above. Forget about their alleged “principle” of “loving the sinner” even if they hate the sin. According to conservative media outlets, like the popular CNSnews.com, Obama just called them gay, and they don’t like it. Other conservative media outlets, advertised that Obama used the platform primarily and solely to advocate for gay rights to an audience who by and large didn’t bother to watch the speech and will not check any of the convenient “facts” Breitbart, CNS and others are feeding them. And of course the real message is: that’s outrageous, get mad. Get to church and buy two new guns.
This is just another hypocrisy from the same people who claim that they want to outreach to minorities, yet most of their elected representatives and party leaders found “other things to do” when Americans were commemorating the anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” A group that says they love America, then go out of their way to show their hate for most Americans, especially the non-white and non-rightwing ones. To take that one line as some “personal attack,” like the president just called them gay, just shows how low the GOP and Tea Party will go. Nothing is done out of truth, the only motivations that matter is how incensed they can get their base of yokels and under educated bigots.
For those who care about facts and context, here is the President’s speech from Selma:
Featured image via Radix