Harold Ford’s reception tonight at New York City’s LGBT Center, which hosted the Stonewall Democrats’ event at which Ford was invited to speak about his stance on issues affecting the LGBTQ community, was little short of a mob scene. Protesters, organized by “The Power,” an LGBTQ advocacy group that has worked tirelessly — albeit with tactics at times well-intentioned yet ill-advised – to further the civil rights cause for all LGBTQ Americans, turned this event into Tea Party style politics.
Protesters brandished bold signs labeling Ford, “Liar,” “Anti-gay Liar,” and “Snakeoil Harold.” But it wasn’t their brandishing of signs, it was their bellicose voices, shouting, interrupting — all of which were criticized by the Stonewall Democrats leadership, to no avail. At every opportunity, protesters shouted down Ford, who clearly wasn’t capable of withstanding the half-hour verbal abuse in a hot, stuffy, small meeting room.
It was demeaning and disrespectful to Mr. Ford, it was demeaning and disrespectful to the Stonewall Democrats, it was demeaning and disrespectful to the LGBTQ community, and worse of all, it was demeaning and disrespectful to our national political debate.
One could argue that Ford’s stance and “flip-flopping” on gay rights are just as demeaning, and to that I would agree.
Make no mistake. I am fully on record as being adamantly opposed to Harold Ford, period, whether he chooses to run for New York’s U.S. Senate seat, or for any other office. I’ve written close to a dozen pieces against him. And his poor performance and clear lack of understanding of basic issues tonight merely proves my point.
Ford is bad for New York. Not because of his poor understanding of LGBTQ issues, but because of his poor understanding of all the issues, including his poor understanding of his own record — which is, needless to say, also poor.
However, the man was a guest in our home, and he was treated as a despot, a tyrant to be overthrown and burned at the stake. There was no way Ford was intellectually capable of changing any heart or mind in that room — even before he arrived. His poor commentary made that clear from the outset. His lack of preparation merely reinforced the obvious fact that he’s not capable of serving the people of the state of New York. The protesters should have merely given him the opportunity to speak, knowing he would do himself more damage than they ever could.
Ford, if anything, may have gained slight political advantage tonight, if only by garnering the sympathy of the less-informed and the anti-gay voting bloc. They, too, won’t believe he’s changed. They’ll see he’s no “fierce advocate,” and they already know Gillibrand is. And they’ll see how he was treated and actually feel sorry for him.
Michael Crawford, who was instrumental in helping Washington, D.C. gain marriage equality, tonight wrote,
“The shouting down of Harold Ford is another example of gays acting out rather than acting smart.”
Even Queerty, itself famous for poor manners, had this to say,
“The event wasn’t just unfriendly to Ford; it was rude.
So, allow us to take a moment to address that: Shouting over the invited guest? Demanding he “go home,” when you’re the ones who bothered showing up to an event you knew he’d appear at? If you want to protest him, fine, but at least let him speak. We’d expect the same for our own. This was uncalled for and makes New York’s gay community look intolerant and juvenile — the same things we accuse others of being.”
The only ones who looked worse than Ford tonight were the members of the unruly, angry, rude, nasty mob that interrupted Ford’s speech with cries reminiscent of Joe Wilson’s “You lie!,” followed by, “You’re a liar,” “Go back home to Tennessee!” and “Anti-choice! Anti-gay! Snake Oil Harry, go away!”
Seriously. Joe Wilson, Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich, and Sarah Palin would have been proud tonight. Michelle Malkin, especially, I’m sure is thrilled. Another “Gay marriage mob” story for her pen to twist.
But I, for one, am not proud.
This “protest” wasn’t “civil disobedience.” There was nothing civil about it at all.
I’ve spent the past year and a half working twelve to eighteen hour days, sometimes seven days a week, trying to educate, communicate, and illustrate why equality for the LGBTQ community is the right thing for America. I’ve immersed myself and invested my life in this movement. No one can say I’m anything if not a dedicated activist to this movement and a tireless supporter of LGBTQ rights and of our community.
But I do not support the ranting and raving tactics and tantrums of an angry mob who put their anger and, yes, their hatred, above the larger picture of public perception and optics, and civil discourse and debate.
Wrestle Ford on the facts, in a civil debate, and we gain the upper hand. Wrestle him to the ground, and we look like schoolyard bullies.
Ironically, today in a piece I wrote for Bilerico, I said,
“There are many roads to reach our success. I will not fight anyone for trying. I will for not.”
While I won’t fight these protesters, I will voice my opinion.
Tonight, these protesters made us look bad and Harold Ford look, well, better than he deserved to. Tonight, these protesters hurt our efforts. Tonight, I, for one, was embarrassed.
When we’ve sunk to the level of those we despise, like the Tea Partiers who disrupted the health care debates all summer, or like Congressman Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst during President Obama’s joint session of Congress, when we’ve sunk so low that we emulate their tactics, we’ve lost the upper hand, our integrity, the support of the public, and we’ve given the opposition a win.
Next time, folks, let’s be the bigger party. Not the Tea Party.
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