A Brief Ill-Considered Rant

Andrew is concerned about Barry anti-gay marriage position. I think a few things should be said:

1.) Andrew is vulnerable on this in a way, that I am not. This is serious business for gay people. I think it's a mistake to totally disregard Barry and to disregard Ward 8. I suspect that if you did, indeed, poll Ward 8 you'd find a lot of opposition to gay marriage.

2.) I have some deadlines looming over me, and if I didn't, I'd expend a little shoe-leather myself and try to get a picture of what's actually happening in my old home. I feel like the Post's coverage has been pretty one-dimensional and wanting. Maybe that's a sign of the times.

3.) I think having said all that, that is another case of the worst of us repping for all of us. Barry represents one Ward, in a majority black city. It is true that it's a heavily black Ward--but Southeast, and by extension Marion Barry, can't speak for all of D.C., any more than Harlem can speak for Jamaica, Queens. Eleanor Holmes Norton is just a black as Marion Barry.

I've argued strongly against white gay people expecting automatic sympathy from blacks, on the basis of shared victimhood. There was no shared sympathy extended to blacks from the Irish, or the Italians. There likely will be none in the future from Mexican-Americans.

That said, as a black person, it is painful and infuriating to watch this unfold. There is something utterly unreflective about people who can only use their pain to advance their own narrowly-defined interests, who can't use it to see the humanity of others. I think people who argue that gay marriage is going to "destroying our youth" are a fucking joke, and I will treat them as such.

Nothing threatens "our youth" more than credentialed ignorance--especially when the credentials are claimed from up high. Somewhere on the internet there is a place where reasonable people are interested in high tea with bigots, and converting those who are on the fence. I don't want any part of it. Compassion is a resource too. My stores are limited. There will be no quarter here.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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