Politics Light Up The Comment Thread

Listeners respond to a conversation with young conservatives. Also in the comment thread, thoughts about the NAACP and the Tea Party.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Now, usually we hear from Lee Hill, our digital media guy, but he's somewhere, trying to arrange Monday's interview with Wyclef Jean, who's running for president of Haiti. So in the meantime, producer Douglas Hopper is here with me in the studio. Hey, Douglas, what's up?

DOUGLAS HOPPER: Hey, Michel. Gay marriage is what's up. A federal judge on Wednesday overturned Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage in California.

MARTIN: And we called up two gay activists the Reverend Yvette Flunder, who is married to a woman in California. She welcomed the news. But our other guest, Matilda Bernstein Sycamore, was not so thrilled that gay marriage was once again thrust into the spotlight.

Ms. MATILDA BERNSTEIN SYCAMORE (Writer, Activist): What I think we should be fighting for is universal access to the basic needs that marriage can sometimes help provide. So things like housing and health care, and the benefits of citizenship - everything that benefits the people who are most vulnerable.

HOPPER: We also published another perspective on our blog, from Kai Wright, editor of colorlines.com. Wright says he agrees with Bernstein Sycamore, that the gay marriage movement may be a case of misplaced priorities. But he said that Judge Walker's decision struck an emotional cord.

Mr. KAI WRIGHT (Editor, Colorlines.com): Walker really moves the debate away from deliberately distracting questions about how gay relationship impact everyone else, and toward questions about how bigotry impacts gay relationships. Can America offer a collective public endorsement of gay relationships? I don't need that endorsement. My love stands on its own. But I nonetheless want it and deserve it. Walker has raised his glass and said blessings.

MARTIN: And we said, Kai Wright's commentary is on our site. We hope you'll visit the TELL ME MORE blog and read it in its entirety.

Let's move on to another topic that created quite a buzz in the comment thread. I talked earlier this week with two young conservative leaders who were in Washington for a national conference. One of them, Jordan Marks, who is the director of the group Young Americans for Freedom, told us he was lucky that he had been warned by his older brother about what he called liberal indoctrination happening on college campuses across America.

Mr. JORDAN MARKS (Director, Young Americans for Freedom): Essentially, they're teaching students that we should not be working for our future, that we should rely on government a bit more than we should be.

HOPPER: Listener Emily Strickland(ph) from Coppell, Texas heard Marks and she had another take. Here's what she said: I must've had a dramatically different education than your guest. The indoctrination I saw was in a conservative direction. We had school prayer led by a teacher, despite it being inappropriate for people in a position of authority to lead prayer. Students were also required to recite the pledge of allegiance for state and country. Strickland went on to argue that most teachers strived to encourage independent thought.

MARTIN: Emily, thank you so much for writing. Now I know we also heard from a number of people who question the very premise of the conversation itself.

HOPPER: That's right. Quite a few folks expressed concern that our program was leaning too far to the right. Allen Smith(ph) from North Carolina wrote us to say that lately he and his wife, who are frequent listeners, have noticed, quote, "what we can only surmise to be an unbalanced fascination with the political right."

MARTIN: Before we go on, we have an update on a story we've been following. The U.S. Senate yesterday failed to approve the money for a $1.25 billion settlement for minority farmers. The deal was struck almost a decade ago, but has been delayed in Congress. John Boyd, president of the Black Farmers Association, says his group is victimized by partisan politics and he's calling on President Obama for help.

HOPPER: All right, let's wrap with reaction to your commentary about the NAACP and the Tea Party. After thinking about the recent dustup while stuck for six hours on an airport tarmac, you said you came to the conclusion that the two organizations should consider coming together and fighting common issues. For instance, corporate arrogance and government red tape.

That sparked a frenzy in the comment thread, and even a tit for tot about the power of voting. But let me leave you with the thoughts of commenter Frosted Flake: I object to the NAACP and the Tea Party being used in the same sentence.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Frosted Flake and thank you, Douglas.

HOPPER: Of course.

MARTIN: And, remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our Web site. Go to NPR.org, click on Programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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