Colin Powell blasts GOP’s “dark vein of intolerance”

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.

Via YouTube:

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.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ8ZWWceTL0]


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • dakotahgeo

    I have a great deal of respect for Colin Powell, et al, who are trying desperately to warn and re-educate the diehard Republican extremists about the cliff they are approaching. Alas, I don’t think they even are looking ahead and down. Their chins are up, their eyes are closed, to their detriment. So be it!

  • http://fighttherightwingnuts.blogspot.com/ mike31c

    Kind of meaningless since you, Colin, still are a supporter of those who are the bigoted assholes in the first place.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Yes, remember Robert McNamara?

  • Sweetie

    Yeah, what he did was stage a public mutiny against Clinton over DADT.

    Last time I checked, mutiny is supposed to be a serious offense.

  • Naja pallida

    Hanlon’s razor states: “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.” … but I like to append “or cowardice.”

    There is absolutely no way Powell didn’t know he was going out there to lie. He just did what he was told to do, instead of choosing to stand up for what was right. He will forever be tarnished with that.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    ppppfffftttt Powel’s ‘character’ is purely expedient.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    This argument might also apply to comfortable Obots who have brought us the disaster known as Barry ‘O’.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    —been to busy eating yellow cake

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Well, yes redemption is a matter of personal growth. But, not always. Powell was one of the principles who covered up and white-washed the My Lai massacre. Somethings will remain unforgivable. Powell has always been an establishment boot licker, played at every turn and his own worst enemy.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Well-meaning? Sorry, I can’t get the image of that vial of white powder out of my mind, juxtaposed with the dead and mutilated bodies of Iraqi innocents.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Bingo. Or, “Now that he hasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell of being nominated for elected office in the GOP, never mind the presidency, Colin Powell deigns to be truthful about his party.”

  • Naja pallida

    A better headline for this would be: “Colin Powell admits he hasn’t been paying attention to his own party’s politics for the last thirty years.”

  • Krusher

    I accept that Powell is a well-meaning soul. But he has been indulging in willful political blindness for his whole public life if he is just now discovering the Republican party’s “dark vein of intolerance.”

  • http://markadelphia.blogspot.com/ Markadelphia

    I’m continually amazed that the “party of responsibility” takes none of it when it comes to racism and bigotry. Their babe in the woods routine is really getting old and I applaud General Powell for calling them out on this.

  • ronbo

    Sorry, I meant that Powell is a Republican. You are clearly on the side for good.

  • samizdat

    Funny how these pols, pundits, and ex-military always have their revelatory moments after they’ve retired or left the bidness. In other words, when their pronouncements can have the least effective results, since no one in DC is listening to them anymore. It always seems to coincide with the fact that they are comfortably retired.

    Rather cowardly, really…

  • http://sonic.net/~ckelly/Seekay/mtbwelcome.htm RepackRider

    I was going to mention that this is COLIN POWELL, who has no credibility whatever, but most of the world beat me to it.

  • evodevo

    If it’s anything like virtually ALL the other conservatives, it’s because of some event in HIS life/social circle. It’s not a problem/issue until it directly involves someone close to THEM. The ultimate in self-centeredness, I guess. Abortion is wrong until it involves your niece/girlfriend/daughter, whatever. Obamacare/Medicaid is soshulist unless it’s YOUR relatives who suddenly lost their job and turned up with Krohn’s or cancer or something. I’ve seen it again and again – it’s a pattern.

  • quark

    Your ASSumption that I am a Republican is as silly as it is unfounded.

    In what bizarreo world is it required that you are not allowed to discuss someone’s other failings just because you noted a positive fact about them?

  • ronbo

    You make a valid point. However, we also need to understand that he was completely absolute(publicly) in his former views causing thousands and thousands to die. Do you allow a known liar to say, “I was wrong on that specific point” then believe everything else he lied about?

    We’ll take a vote of the person’s whom now are dead and use their opinion to absolve Powell. Sorry, can’t – they remain dead.

    If Powell were using his time to mend his crimes, I’d have more sympathy. Looks more like he wants it both ways. Character is more than dressing up in a uniform and prancing about as directed.

  • Dave of the Jungle

    Holding up a dram of white powder at the Security Council was massively convincing, wasn’t it?

  • sbgypsy

    Colin Powell was instrumental in the Mai Lai coverup. He should be in prison, and should never be listened to for any reason.

  • olandp

    Look in the mirror Colin, this is the same party as the party of Ronald Reagan that you helped to create. You can concern troll now, but you are just as culpable as Rick Santorum, Jerry Fallwell, and all the rest of the Republican bigots.

  • quark

    If the reaction to leaders changing their positions and admitting they were previously wrong in their bigotry is this kind of thinly veiled attack on their character then don’t be surprised if it harms future evolution towards positions supporting true equality.

    The best response is to simply say thank you and point out that it displays character and courage to publicly admit you were wrong.,

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