The difficult case of Tony Dungy

Not the football coach, the man. Most of us know that Dungy opposes gay marriage. It's very hard for me to not apply the word bigot to people who hold that position. But I  understand that bigot--like racist--has come to be associated with a kind of violence, a kind of torch waving maliciousness. Most importantly, it likely shuts down conversation. I think Dungy presents something that black folks were faced with in the South.

There were people, like George Wallace, who embraced racism as opportunism, people who were not bigots themselves, but saw what bigotry could do for their careers. There were others, who would have, say, opposed a lynching, who believed in blacks being able to work and support their families, but also firmly believed God made the races to be separate. Even today you have folks who are friendly with black folks, but would have real trouble with interracial marriage.

So there's the recurring theme where you have black folks protesting, and trying to get basic civil rights, but people who were, otherwise, upstanding members of society standing in the way. But these people--whatever their community bonafides--were essential elements of an evil system. It was the veneer of genteel respectability that made segregation tenable, no? With that in mind, I think a guy like Dungy has to be challenged--if, and when, he makes public statements. Of course the question is, how to do it in a way that garners you more allies than it loses you.