It's a closely guarded secret of the Left that gay people and black people don't always see eye to eye, even when they're in the same party. For just one example, Louis Farrakhan recently called homosexuality "what God condemned in the days of Lot," marking him as just one of many African American religious leaders who have recently attacked President Obama (as well as other liberal groups) for endorsing gay marriage on religious grounds.
Still, interestingly, even when faced with this open opposition to their agenda within their own ranks - opposition that would otherwise be quickly labeled as "homophobic" or "hateful" - many of the Left's most prominent gay spokespeople have remained oddly silent, as though solidarity with fellow Leftists trumps their group identity.
However, as Congressman Barney Frank is finding out after an admittedly tasteless joke about slain teen Trayvon Martin, this sword apparently only cuts one way.
Some background: in a commencement speech to the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Frank is reported to have made the following remark to his fellow honorary degree recipient, Hubie Jones, who happens to be an African-American:
One of the great men that I’ve worked with Hubie for many years and I’m particularly pleased that Hubie got an honorary degree today. You know, when you get an honorary degree they give you one of these and Hubie, I think you now got a hoodie you can wear and no one will shoot at you.
The joke met with an audible gasp from the audience, and Frank immediately found himself besieged with accusations of mean-spiritedness. For conservatives, this will no doubt sound highly ironic - Barney Frank is mean spirited? Perish the thought!
Nevertheless, Frank doubled down later, in what was supposed to be an apology, claiming he was using the joke to mock the notion - perpetuated by people such as Fox News host Geraldo Rivera - that hoodies were in any way signs of dangerous behavior:
I have used the ‘hoodie’ line to ridicule the notion that a hooded sweatshirt is somehow sinister. I wore a hooded gown in three ceremonies earlier this year, and in my remarks at those events I used the same joke on myself.
Since then, Frank has done what he does best in response to criticism - lash out - and for once, readers might find themselves agreeing with him. Here's Mediaite's write-up of the Congressman's take on the controversy:
Several days after Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)made a provocative joke at UMass Dartmouth’s commencement ceremony, the retiring congressman spoke to WHDH Boston about the criticism he has faced, saying that he is “troubled by the hypersensitivity” and he is “surprised people don’t understand.”
“When they give you an honorary doctorate they give you one of these [...] I think you now got a hoodie you can wear and no one will shoot at you,” Frank joked during his commencement address, referring to the fact that Trayvon Martin was shot and killed while wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Audience members reportedly gasped at the remark.
Frank did apologize for the joke, but this afternoon, he told WHDH that he was sorry people are so sensitive.
“It’s a joke I’ve made three times about hoodies,” he said. “This is the first time someone focused on it. And no, I think making jokes about serious issues to make a serious point is a good thing. And the notion that people are offended because you try to highlight something like that. I’m troubled by the hypersensitivity.”[...]
“By the way,” Frank added, “most people that talked to me about it were not upset. So in a country of 300 million people, if a couple of thousand people say something, it doesn’t mean a great deal.”
And here's the video of the segment from WHDH Boston where Frank made these remarks:
On a serious note, whatever schadenfreude you get out of this excruciatingly ironic situation, it's worth noting that Frank is at least taking a stance against oversensitivity that has plagued the Trayvon Martin case since its inception, and arguably hampered the ability of the media to report the facts accurately. For that much at least, we should be grateful to him.