Category Archives: Selma & Civil Rights

Annals of Homophobia: Don’t Cry For Kim, Rowan County

Annals of Homophobia: Don’t Cry For Kim, Rowan County

Remember the “Rainbow Tour” song from the movie version of “Evita”, the rock opera about Eva Peron? (If not, listen to it here right away.

It follows (and deconstructs) Evita’s supposedly triumphal European tour in the late 1940s:

Evita-Time-cover
A 1947 cover of TIME Magazine, featuring Eva “Evita” Peron, on the occasion of her “Rainbow Tour” in Europe.

The third verse from this stunning ensemble piece came back to mind on Wednesday:

More Bad news from Rome — 
She met with the Pope;
She only got a rosary, a kindly word–
I wouldn’t say the Holy Father 
Gave her the bird,
But papal decorations, never a hope . . .”

Who else met with the pope, more recently, and came away with only a rosary and some kindly words?

Yeah, Kim Davis.

News of the brief September 24 encounter was “leaked” by her lawyer.

It happened at the Vatican embassy in Washington, the day before Davis visited the Values Voter Summit, put on annually by Family Research Council Action. 

Family_Research_Council_Logo

FRCA is an ultra-rightwing lobby which has specialized in homophobia, plus anti-divorce, anti-same sex marriage and lots of other anti-stuff in the U.S., as well as support for draconian antigay laws in African countries. It has been named a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

FRC-hate-groupIn presidential years, the farther-right GOP candidates line up at the FRCA “Summit” to preen and toss red meat. This time most of them showed up, even Trump (but not Jeb!?) The Summit also runs a straw poll, of course, and this time ted Cruz, perhaps the nastiest of them all (but it’s a tough choice), won.

Still, despite the flurry of media attention that followed the disclosure, the visit turns out to be not exactly a big deal.

To be sure, Francis is on record as being against same sex marriage, and LGBT issues generally (even if he said “Who am I to judge?”); and has repeated the “religious liberty” meme which the American right (including its large Catholic wing) has been turned into a dog-whistle for protecting homophobic discrimination. None of this is new, even if he went out of his way to NOT repeat any of it in public while he was here.

In all his public, to-the-country statements repeatedly (& honestly) trashed the right wing Catholic political agenda, and the bishops’ alliance with them. If I was scoring all this, it would go: 20 for Francis’s good stuff, 1 (so far) for bad. In sports or politics, that would be a landslide or a rout. And in Vegas, betting on the pope saying progressive things while in the USA would have been a very big, loud winner. 

Compare: the Davis meeting was held in private, with no papal aides, news media,  or Davis’s lawyer; it lasted  only a few minutes; the pope’s reported pleasantries were boilerplate; and when asked later, he did not seem well-briefed on her case

Further, the fact of the meeting was embargoed until the pope was safely back in Rome. And late on September 30, the Vatican was still declining to comment on it, sounding embarrassed and blindsided. Some ballyhoo.

Of course, homophobic crusaders like Davis’s “Liberty Counsel” and the “Alliance Defending Freedom” were ecstatic at the news leak, and insisted that it showed that Francis was on board with their campaigns. They can’t be stopped for grabbing this patronizing shred of recognition.

But time to cue the Evita sound track again:

She only got a rosary, a kindly word–
I wouldn’t say the Holy Father 
Gave her the bird,
But papal decorations, never a hope . . .”

Papal decorations? Yeah, there are lots of them. They weren’t likely in this case; but just so you know.

papal-decoration-1
Papal decorations: the order of St. gregarious (above) and the Order of Pope Pius the Ninth. There are several more.

papal-decoration-3-GoodYet Davis didn’t go back to Kentucky unrewarded. Family Research Action gave her a “Cost of Discipleship Award”; its president compared her to Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.  So don’t cry for her, Rowan County.

But the rest of us could shed a tear for Parks, King and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose witness and martyrdom  were twisted by a creepy group whose worldview would have all of them spinning in their graves. 

PS. Update: Jesuit editor Fr. James Martin adds his well-informed insider perspective here. His verdict also: NBD

 

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Evita-madonna

An Anti-Racism Exercise: Listen to Neo-Confederates

An Exercise for readers devoted to “anti-racist” work:
Here’s an 8-minute video taken by reporters from the Guardian, a UK paper, in Selma last week. They talk (and listen) to two leading “Neo-Confederates,” white southerners who are still devoted to the idea that the South should have won the U.S. Civil War, and failing that, southern states should seek to secede today.
Godwin-Todd-Neo-Confederates
Todd Kiscawen, left and Pat Godwin. right; prominent Neo-Confederates, and guardians of “Confederate Circle” in the Old Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama.

Continue reading An Anti-Racism Exercise: Listen to Neo-Confederates

Selma, Me & Jimmie Lee Jackson

Selma, Me & Jimmie Lee Jackson

Just this past weekend, a friend discovered a photo from Selma in 1965, where I’m in the frame. Here it is — the same one posted yesterday, but with more of the image. In the front row are John Lewis and Andrew Young; Lewis is talking about the plans to march from Selma to Montgomery, to demand justice and voting rights for people of color in Alabama.

CF-in-Selma-TV-1

That’s me at the right, looking over AndyYoung’s shoulder.

Continue reading Selma, Me & Jimmie Lee Jackson

Tomorrow: A Selma 50th Blockbuster!

Coming: A Selma 50th Blockbuster!

Yes, tune in to this blog (& my Facebook page) for a singular revelation from Selma history. Long-awaited, never seen before.

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In this photo, the March from Selma to Montgomery is being announced. But there’s something else here . . .
Here’s a clue: In this photo, the March from Selma to Montgomery is being announced. But there’s something else in it . . .which will be disclosed tomorrow. It’s “A Friendly Letter” Exclusive . . . .

Eating Dr. King’s Dinner

Topics: Dr. King, Selma Alabama, voting rights, Gandhi, nonviolence

On February 1, 1965, I was arrested in Selma, Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King and 250 others. Here’s what happened that day, and how I ended up eating Dr. King’s dinner.

I – Blocking the View, Blocking the Road

King-ArrestThat morning, I was too tense to eat. Keyed up and ready, my thoughts were full of armies marching to battle.

It was February 1, 1965. I was part of a nonviolent “army” – or at least a battalion – set to march in Selma, Alabama that day. Our objective, the territory we hoped to occupy, was downtown, the Dallas County jail; we planned to capture it by getting arrested.

Continue reading Eating Dr. King’s Dinner