This past week was a big one in politics, with a fiery vice presidential debate dominating the news. But what were some of the best opinion articles from around the web that you might have missed?
On Monday in the Washington Post, columnist Jonathan Capehart wrote about the continuing scourge of homophobia in the deep south, building on an earlier piece by fellow MSNBC contributor Jimmy Williams, called “The Art of Dog Whistling,” in which Williams wrote of his own experiences growing up in conservative South Carolina:
I waltzed into my teenage years and figured out two things very quickly: that the woman who was raising me to be a gentleman with a firm moral code was, in fact, a black woman named Bertha. I also figured out that I was very different from most of my white male friends, that I was a young gay man growing up in that conservative South. And I hid it from the people that mattered most to me. I “butched it up,” so to speak, so no one would know who I really was. There were code words for me: “sissy,” “queer,” “f*g,” “gay” to name a few. I’d hear things like “he’s a little light in his loafers” or “I know which side his bread is buttered on.” It felt terrible to hear them and to cope, I transferred my hurt towards the only group of people I could find more vulnerable than me: southern blacks.
Capehart used Williams’ piece to push back on New York Times piece by Karen L. Cox, that uses the character Uncle Poodie from the hit show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” to paint a different, rosier picture of the southern “closet.” In “‘Uncle Poodle’ needs to speak up,” Capehart writes:
More than 30 years later, as Cox shows with her “Uncle Poodle”-praising op-ed, gay men and lesbians in the South are still dealing with code words. Yes, they are living lives more openly than Williams could have imagined in his teen years. But the combination of self-policing and strict social custom can’t be healthy. Not for the gays and not for their communities.
“Sure it’s progress that LGBT people aren’t being disowned or abandoned, but is that the best we can do? LGBT legal inequality has a real and profound negative impact on people’s lives and this weird quasi-closeted culture only perpetuates that inequality,” said Jeff Krehely, vice president for LGBT research and communications at the Center for American Progress (CAP).
Meanwhile, two great pieces this week took on the issue of affirmative action, which is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In “Why won’t the GOP talk about affirmative action?” Ari Melber explains how Republicans utilize the very program they claim to loathe:
While Donald Trump once insinuated that Obama’s admission to Columbia and Harvard should be a campaign issue, few mainstream Republicans have seized on affirmative action as a political attack, either as a policy contrast or as a personal smear against the president or other minority opponents. A few conservative pundits and activists are still agitating for a racialized October surprise, to be sure, but Romney and Republican leaders are steering clear. That reflects several factors – the political dynamics of trying to unseat the first black president and a recession election – but the main substantive reason for the GOP to avoid affirmative action is that the party now uses the policy all the time.
While conservatives mount their hard-line attacks in court, party leaders are scrambling to find and promote minorities, both to run for key offices and to serve in the highest levels of government. In a party where 9 out of 10 members are white, according to Pew surveys, that effort requires fast-tracking minorities over equally qualified white candidates. Today’s Republican leaders have a tortured relationship to affirmative action – they tip the scale for diversity in electoral politics but blast college admissions officers who do the same thing.
Meanwhile, MSNBC’s “The Cycle” co-host Touré writes about affirmative action from a more personal point of view, for TIME Magazine’s Ideas section, explaining, “Why we still need affirmative action“:
The end of affirmative action would have profound implications for higher education, leaving the U.S.’s top universities and graduate schools whiter. Because intergenerational mobility is tied to college attendance and joining America’s leadership is linked to admission to the top selective universities and graduate programs, the removal of affirmative action would only increase the already overwhelming whiteness of the upper echelon of American society. A study by Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger found that graduating from selective universities does not increase the earnings likelihood for middle-class whites but does significantly increase the earnings likelihood for black and Hispanic students and those from less affluent backgrounds, so affirmative action has a direct impact on the economic future of America. I have seen this at work in my own family.
And finally, here at theGrio, Prof. James Braxton Peterson writes about Vice President Biden, and explores how he redeemed himself from awkward comments about the “articulate and clean” Senator Barack Obama, to become one of the president’s best, and in many ways “blackest,” surrogates. Read that piece here.