The Corner

Santorum & Lott

Whatever our disagreements, I have sympathy for the guy. He’s being exploited in the same way and by the same people who exploited the death of Matthew Shepherd. I do not see the comparison to Trent Lott at all for two reasons. First, Lott was defending a system — Jim Crow — which is dead and burried, rejected by the vast majority of Americans in countless elections, referenda, court cases and the like. Santorum was speaking to the laws of the land on the books right now. I think those laws should be repealed, but it seems to me that since they haven’t been yet, Santorum is hardly a radical or crank, completely outside the mainstream of public and legal opinion.

Second, gays are not blacks and blacks are not gays. I spoke on a panel at the Human Rights Campaign not to long ago and I tried to make this point clear. This country’s historical problem with race is simply different than its historical problem with homosexuality. We did not fight a civil war so that gays could be free. We did not have a March on Washington for gay rights. We have not amended the constitution to deal with the pressing issue of gays. This doesn’t mean gays don’t have legitimate grievances, complaints or arguments but they are of a different kind than those of black Americans. I think that the institutional discrimination against gays in this country is clearly greater than it is against blacks today. But the nature and rationale for that discrimination is different than racism. And simply insisting otherwise will not make it so.

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