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8 August 2011, 2:00 pm 4 Comments

Politics: Small Business, Small Hearts, Small Minds

Submission by first-time contributor Steven Lee

Who’s the jackass? Or better yet: who’s the dumbass?

Keep reading. Before you think this is some commentary written by one of those self-loathing Family Research Council members or some other wing-nut—and God knows there are a ton of them—this is how I’ve chosen to describe whoever was responsible for dis-inviting Republican Congressman Allen West from attending a meeting which was scheduled to be held tonight, August 8.

The meeting was to be between Rep. West and the members of the Wilton Manors Business Association (WMBA). The by-laws of WMBA states: “The purpose of the association is to promote the development and growth of the Wilton Manors business community.”

Seems like a worthwhile goal for a group concerned about promoting their small businesses here in Wilton Manors (Fort Lauderdale, FL). All the more reason to ask their duly-elected Member of Congress to attend a meeting of the Association and speak, especially when you have a locally-elected Congressman who serves on the House Small Business Committee.

Before telling West to pound sand, the Congressman sent the WMBA president a letter stating he was looking forward to meeting with business owners to discuss issues such as access to capital, the national debt and the economy, as well as hearing directly from them on their concerns operating a business in South Florida.

Enter the Florida Gay, Lesbian Transgender Democratic Caucus and its president who upon hearing of the invitation demanded it be rescinded. And if not, he huffed, the caucus would demand the GLBT businesses within the WMBA quit and further threatened a boycott against those businesses which didn’t.

Why?

Well the idiot president said those businesses should be boycotted because they “put profits ahead of human rights.” Yep, that’s right. Afterall, the only reason I would want to start-up a new business that if successful (and dare say create a new job for some unemployed worker) is because human rights pays more than profits. (I wasn’t a business major in college, but I do think the goal of many businesses around the globe is to make a profit.)

Well needless to say there have been all kinds of groups and individuals weighing in on this topic pointing fingers. The Christian Family Coalition squealed with delight upon hearing this, issuing a statement supporting West and faulting the caucus president for intolerance.

Even the recent edition of the South Florida Gay News, Fort Lauderdale’s gay rag, went to press with its front page ablaze with a photo of a donkey and the Congressman. The headline which appeared with the photos read: A Tale of 2 Donkeys. I guess the inference is a tale of two jackasses, for after reading the accompanying news story AND an editorial by the paper’s publisher, it didn’t make alot of sense to me.

(But interestingly enough, this “publisher” not once mentioned the words “free speech.” But who knows what’s being taught in journalism classes at universities and colleges nowaday. I learned long ago while working on my journalism degree that “free speech” and “free press” were often intermingled by those Constitution writers long ago.)

But to be fair, (and I guess this is fair), the publisher’s editorial was headlined: “Allen West Needs to Be Censured, Not Censored.” All that editorializing aside, the paper was happy to offer a third story quoting what I guess were eight offensive statements in which they disagreed, and headlined it: “Allen West: In His Own Words.”

The comments focused on three topics: On Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, Gay Marriage and Congresswoman Debbie Schultz (who by the way is the Democrat Member of Congress in the adjoining Congressional district to West).

West you might recall, called her vile, unprofessional and despicable.

But what amazes me, (though I’m not surprised at all) is that not one column inch of news or editorials in this Fort Lauderdale gay rag contained one word about West’s assignment to the House Small Business Commitee. (Excuse me but did someone say “SMALL BUSINESS?)

If I were a Wilton Manors small business owner and learned that West wanted to reduce the minimum wage 50 percent or demand that all employers make their employees work 80 hours a week , that would be good to know. But somehow the point of the whole exercise got tossed overboard.

Afterall, I’m sure this brilliant caucus president reasoned, we have much bigger fish to fry.

But the local daily newspaper here in Fort Lauderdale (The Sun Sentinel) got it right when they editorialized the Democratic caucus group president got it all wrong…writing: “intolerance is intolerable, and that’s why pressure on a Wilton Manors business group to disinvite a member of Congress is misguided.”

There are alot of reasons–be they valid or not–for disliking Congressman West. Most will say he’s homophobic, was against the repeal of DADT, too militant.

But when did it ever hurt to listen? Just sit down and shut the (****)-up.

Had these “tolerant” South Florida business owners and caucus president taken the time to listen they might have learned that Congressman West has a close relative who is gay and married to his partner.

“We love and adore them both,” wrote Congressman West’s wife, Angela, in a statement she wrote over the cancellation of the speaking event. She also referenced a fellow soldier and her partner who served with the Congressman in the Middle East. She even wondered aloud in her written statement that gee, “following the business portion of the meeting, maybe they could have discussed her husband’s views on DADT.”

“What a novel idea,” Angela West wrote, “having a personal discussion with a Congressman. But no it is far more important to vilify, de-personalize and really bar him from speaking.”

Amazing the things one can learn when you simply take the time to listen.

And if you have to open your mouth, just take a deep breath and remember how we are all supposed to spell the word: T O L E R A N C E.

That’s my two cents.

 


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4 Comments »

  • Noah Samuels said:

    Why don’t you get back to us with West’s “stellar” support if gay issues in Congress. Sorry it’s going to take more than a few words from his wife…
    Not to mention his deplorable, sexist comments that he made about Congresswoman Schultz.
    He’s a pathetic excuse for a Representative. Small businesses can also thank West for holding the economy hostage due his unrealistic demands of no new tax revenue.

    Just my 2 cents…

  • Richard said:

    But Noah, I think the point here is that we simply can’t have that discussion with people like West if we lock them out of the room. We can and should hold people accountable for their non-progressive stances, but shouldn’t we also take the time to try and convince them otherwise?

    I think we all too often feel that if someone says something we disagree with, then we must write them off. But I don’t think that’s fair until we take the time to try and speak with them, give ourselves the chance to change their mind.

    I think the mistake of this article is to frame something as more important than something else, specifically saying economic development for small businesses is more important than a host of LGBT-rights issues. They are issues, each important in their own right. We don’t need to weight them out, we simply need to address them.

    People in West’s district elected him, for good or for ill. Until the next election, he is who they have to work with. Why not at least try to make the situation better?

    I realize that when it comes to LGBT politics, we as a community have a do or die mentality. Out history shows that this is how we get things done. But I think we really need to start taking a more concilliatory approach. If we play in to tactics of some in Washington, demand everything we want while giving nothing or even listening to our opposition, then we’re doomed to quite a bit more folly than one minor credit-rating reduction.

  • Josh said:

    Really? You’re honestly trying to defend this douchebag? And you do it by calling the president of the Florida LGBT Democratic Caucus an idiot, and by quoting some treacly toothless “love the sinner hate the sin” statement by West’s wife? Wow. If only the LGBT movement had more inspiring leaders like you, maybe we’d all still be living in 1950′s-era conditions. The New Gay should really change its name to “The New I’m Still A Moderately Self-Hating Homogay” since it loves to publish lame articles like this.

  • Jeremy Michaels said:

    “We can and should hold people accountable for their non-progressive stances, but shouldn’t we also take the time to try and convince them otherwise?”

    I know you mean well, but you will never change the mind of hyper-conservative, ultra-religious people like that. They are locked into their dogma and their ideology. It’s very naive of you to think you can convince people like that of anything. They might pretend to care long enough to get votes and remain in office, but they simply don’t see us as human or worthy of existing. To them, we are the vilest of enemies, totally responsible for everything from the demise of the family unit and society itself, to hurricanes and earthquakes, to the fall of nations. West is a blooming idiot. I think shunning him was a powerful and necessary statement, speaking his own language. It was good for him to experience intolerance (even if it also gave him the perfect opportunity to play the innocent, injured martyr).

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