Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tea Bags, Tripp Palin and Barney Frank

Tea Bags, Tripp Palin, and Barney Frank


How this week was a Tipping Point for America

Now that I obviously have your attention, I have to say that the last few weeks have been an amazing ride for America, not because of the first dog, Bo, President Obama’s outreach to Latin America or the twinkling of dawn on the financial front. The tipping point I am talking about is the final curtain on what many called The Religious Right.

I realized something had happened when I tuned in to Katie Couric on CBS the night of the Vermont legislature’s gay marriage passage and most of the ‘news’ was focused on the Obama’s dog and Sarah Palin’s fight with her illegitimate (read Deut 23:3) grandson’s father. No mention of the latest loss for the virtuocrats (evangelical politicians – an oxymoron if I ever heard one) or even a blip on the three other states who are about to take up the question in the next few weeks. Only a tongue-in-cheek mention that the Teabaggers might be mistaken for an oral sex act.

As I witnessed the rise and now the fall of the virtuocrats I realized that none of their agenda has ever made it into law since Ronald Regan promised the common man (read white guys) would get power again in America. Their goal was to outlaw abortion (lost) put prayer back in public schools (lost) teach creationism (lost) prevent gays from holding church positions or teaching in public schools (lost) and finally protect their own feeble marriages based on women’s servitude by denying and discriminating against same sex couples (big loss). So why are they not complaining more?

The last gasp was the $1.5 million dollar TV ad campaign, “The Coming Storm” where we saw a group of people whose rights were being taken away and their lives were changing because a wind was sweeping across America. This probably would have taken hold 25 years ago, but instead turned into a YouTube parody contest with hundreds of spoofs and millions of hits. The best spoof was of course Steven Colbert’s with a New Jersey minister complaining his church had been turned into an Abercrombie and Fitch. Teamed with the kooks with white trash grammar on the coverage of the Tea Bag Protests, along with Governor Palin’s “over my dead body” remark on a reconciliation between Levi and (safe Bristol we have what Malcom Gladwell calls; The Tipping Point.

For those of you not familiar with Mr. Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point”, he explains the processes and mechanisms by which some trends achieve exponential popularity while others sputter and fade into oblivion. Previous to this book they have been thought to be mysterious and resistant to analysis. However, Gladwell’s central argument is that there are actually a number of patterns and factors that are at play in virtually every influential trend, ranging from the spread of communicable diseases to the unprecedented popularity of a particular children’s television show. If you analyze the evolution of any major phenomenon, the author suggests, you will find that the processes involved are strikingly similar.

This all happened in less than 10 days – you could not have planned it. From Pastor Rick Warren saying he was never against the anti-gay marriage amendment on Larry King, and Meghan McCain telling the GOP to drop the rhetoric against same sex marriage, to Steve Schmidt (campaign manager for McCain-Palin 2008) speaking to the gay Republicans telling them the GOP will become irrelevant if they don’t accept gay rights, to of course Iowa and Vermont both legalizing gay marriage in the same week this truly was the week that was a tipping point. I add only one further observation. Did anyone see people of color at a Tea Bagging party?

Gladwell tells us that when three groups converge on an idea; Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen, the idea will get traction. The Religious Right, however well funded or loud lost a few of them this week and I believe we are going to see a slippery slope until this group of bigots and racists finally fade away.

I’ll close with a quote Barney Frank gave in response to me awarding him the Stonewall Library Distinguished Honor of 2008, he said, “Nate, most people really aren’t homophobes, they just think they have to be.”

Have a peaceful week.

Nate Klarfeld

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