Wow. A blistering criticism of the Republican party’s “dark vein of intolerance” from Colin Powell, speaking on Meet the Press yesterday.
It’s an amazing video, do watch it below. But first, a few words about the good general.
Powell worked for the GOP, though he tries to argue that it was a different GOP back in his day. Perhaps. Though the Republicans hated gays awfully well during Powell’s reign, though perhaps they were more circumspect about their racism (to a degree, at least as compared to their homophobia – but even that’s debatable).
And let’s not forget that Powell himself was solely responsible for stopping Bill Clinton’s effort to lift the military’s ban on gays in January of 1993, bordering (I’d say he went far beyond the border) on insubordination against his commander in chief, and betraying people who should have cared much more about than he clearly did at the time.
And not only did Powell provide the GOP cover for their blatant anti-gay bigotry, Powell himself once made a stunningly bigoted remark that has hurt gay people and their civil rights for two decades now.
Powell was trying to explain why the bigotry shown African-Americans in the US military in the past was nothing like the bigotry shown gay people under the military’s gay ban:
“Skin color is a benign non-behavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument.”
Yeah, well Coretta Scott King didn’t agree with Colin Powell on that one. But boy did the religious right – some of the very bigots that Powell is worried about today – have a field day with those comments by Powell.
While I’m glad that Colin Powell is now in favor of gay marriage, as well as repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I’m a big fan of redemption, he needs to be careful when accusing others of bigotry. It wasn’t long ago that Colin Powell was a pretty big bigot himself, and he harmed a lot of people, and destroyed a lot of lives, over the past 20 years.
Having said that, he’s right about the GOP. It’s always had an intolerant, and hateful, streak – at least in recent history (meaning, the last half century), but now the party’s been taken over by extremists – whether it’s haters of gays, women, Latinos, or blacks. (As for Jews, while Christian conservative Republicans pretend to be Israel’s best friend, ask them them why: It’s because they need Israel to survive so Jesus can come back and then wipe out 2/3 of the Jews in the world. Republican Israel-lovers don’t talk about that one much.)
I think it’s great that Colin Powell has found Jesus, as it were. And I think we need to encourage new allies, especially those who cross over from the dark side of the Force. They’re quite useful to us politically. (Ken Mehlman comes to mind.) But. I’d like to hear more from Powell as to this change of heart on gay civil rights in the past few years. It’s welcome, to be sure. But like Senator Hagel’s political-death-bed conversion on gay ambassadors, I think we need to hear more from Colin Powell (and Hagel) about why the sudden change of mind.
Especially if he’s going to be our new ambassador of tolerance.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday and had some strong words for his fellow GOP members: “The Republican party needs to take a very hard look at itself and understand that the country has changed.” Powell criticized the GOP of today for everything from their views on climate change to taxes. Most importantly? The party has a “dark vein of intolerance” running through it and “if they don’t change” along with America’s changing demographics, “they are going to be in trouble.”