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Are Gays Being Made This Campaign’s Hate Symbol? : Attack ads: Pat Buchanan’s loathsome TV spots against the National Endowment for the Arts go too far, even for politics.

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Republican Presidential contender Patrick J. Buchanan, a walking hate crime, is using images of black gay men in a political ad to bludgeon President Bush, himself no friend of the gay and lesbian community.

How ironic. The gay community is being used by political gay-bashers to bash one another. Since Buchanan fared surprisingly well in Georgia, where the ad first aired, the spot will undoubtedly be used elsewhere in the former commentator’s bid for the Repubican presidential nomination.

Buchanan’s strategy is not new--right-wing preacher Lou Sheldon used it in California against a bill that would have outlawed job discrimination against gays. Sheldon’s nearly identical tactic was a video of semi-nude, leather-clad folk participating in San Francisco’s Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parade, with an announcer saying, “Would you want your children being taught by one of these?” It generated a flood of phone calls and letters urging Gov. Pete Wilson to veto the bill, which he did. In Buchanan’s case, he is accusing George Bush of “glorifying homosexuality,” which seems to be akin to letting Willie Horton out on a prison work furlough.

As one campaign strategist has noted, “this isn’t badminton.” But election campaigns that use the gay and lesbian community as an acceptable target for bigotry are going too far in the nasty game. This strategy exploits ignorance to advance a narrow agenda, fostering an environment in which violence flourishes. The images were chosen to shock and frighten viewers who have little or no understanding of the gay and lesbian community. Hostility builds on ignorance; hate crimes against gay and lesbian people are rising to epidemic proportions. Patrick Buchanan, campaigning for President by campaigning against homosexuality, sustains intolerance and validates hatred and violence.

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The news media have brought Buchanan’s gay-bashing message into every living room in the country. It is a predictable, ignorant assault, clearly motivated by hate, expressed in words rather than a physically violent act. But gay-bashing nonetheless.


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