Last time

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Seriously, no more on who's at fault and who isn't. But this piece by Will Saletan deserves mention. Two major things. First Saletan is forced to recant a major plank in his thesis:

I originally wrote that blacks "made the difference" on Prop 8. I calculated this based on a margin of passage of 4 percent. This was erroneous, because the final margin was 4.6 percent. To prevent Prop 8's passage, blacks would have had to vote against it by a margin of something like 53 percent to 47 percent.

This is no small thing. If we accept CNN's flawed exit poll numbers it would require blacks to voted "No on Prop 8," not just at the same rate as the rest of the state, but more than any other ethnic group in California. Oh, I wish it were so. But this only leads to the biggest problem with Saletan's piece--the assumption that black community is a cabal of pinko commies:

Here we have a left-leaning constituency (blacks) that has become politically pivotal on an issue (homosexuality) and is susceptible to a reframing of that issue (seeing sexual orientation, like color, as inborn) in accord with ongoing scientific research.

No we don't. Any writer who's spent significant time in the suburbs of Atlanta, on the South-Side of Chicago, or here in Harlem, knows that black people aren't "left-leaning"--they just think the GOP is racist. Surveys may show blacks leaning-left on certain issues (minimum wage? ending the war?) but take it from an actual black leftist, there is a conservative streak running through black America wider than the Mississippi. Don't confuse "enemy of my enemy"-ism, with actual sympathy.

UPDATE:
More thinking on that first point. Look at black folks by their demographic profile. Saletan is pinning his argument on the chance that an undereducated, underemployed, over-religious, disproportionately impoverished 6 percent of California's electorate would turn the tide, not simply by supporting gay marriage, but by supporting it a higher rate than any other ethnic demographic in the state. Are you fucking kidding? Are we even trying to be serious here?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2008/11/last-time/6257/