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August 10th, 2009

Welcome, My Heterosexual Friends, To The Front…

Via Sullivan…this little nugget from the front lines from Daily KOS…

It is, in short, a movement made up of the enfranchised and enabled; people who have gained every benefit from the politics of America and yet who feel in their very bones that they are the oppressed ones, the ones who have nothing left to lose, so rapidly is America falling away from them. It is rare to run across any movement so deeply angry — or more to the point, a movement which explicitly celebrates anger as the primary mission of their activism. They are not willing to listen to any factual evidence that contradicts their own beliefs in whatever dark conspiracies have been peddled to them; they have in fact made it their publicly proclaimed mission to block any such explanations from even being attempted.

This could be a description of the anti-gay movement in America ever since Anita Bryant.  Enfranchised and enabled?  Check.  They have every right that their gay neighbors are fighting for.  Every.  Right.  Feeling in their very bones that they are the oppressed ones?  Check.  It’s a constant refrain.  Militant homosexuals are oppressing them.  Somehow.  But don’t ask how exactly because all you’ll get are either vague claims that their "deeply held religious beliefs" are being trampled on every time they’re told to leave gay people alone, or if not that, then outright lies. Remember this?

Another "Yes on 8" canard is that the continuation of same-sex marriage will force churches and other religious groups to perform such marriages or face losing their tax-exempt status. Proponents point to a case in New Jersey, where a Methodist-based nonprofit owned seaside land that included a boardwalk pavilion. It obtained an exemption from state property tax for the land on the grounds that it was open for public use and access. Events such as weddings — of any religion — could be held in the pavilion by reservation. But when a lesbian couple sought to book the pavilion for a commitment ceremony, the nonprofit balked, saying this went against its religious beliefs.

The court ruled against the nonprofit, not because gay rights trump religious rights but because public land has to be open to everyone or it’s not public. The ruling does not affect churches’ religious tax exemptions or their freedom to marry whom they please on their private property, just as Catholic priests do not have to perform marriages for divorced people and Orthodox synagogues can refuse to provide space for the weddings of interfaith couples. And Proposition 8 has no bearing on the issue; note that the New Jersey case wasn’t about a wedding ceremony.

We’re being oppressed…by having to live by the same rules everyone else does…

Not willing to listen to any factual evidence that contradicts their own beliefs?  Check.  Not only are they not willing to listen to the facts, they’ve built a multi-million dollar industry with dozens of front groups whose only job is to churn out one lie after another about gay people which they insist everyone else accept as holy writ, whereas any actual science is regarded as pro-homo propaganda.  Publicly proclaimed their mission to block any actual facts from coming to light?  Check.  From keeping honest, factual information about sexual orientation out of schools, to keeping it out of public libraries, to keeping it off of television, there is no public space that the facts about homosexuality and sexual orientation can appear that they have not vigorously…and I mean vigorously…worked to shut it down.

This Daily KOS post could have been written years ago, decades even, about about the anti-gay culture warriors.  But it isn’t about the fight over gay rights.  It’s about the struggle for America…

The Rise of A Postmodern Racist Movement?

There seems little question that something odd is going on with the healthcare debate. Foremost is the ridiculous extent to which the debate has been entirely commandeered by flagrant, outright lies — things about euthanasia, and death panels, and the like, abject propaganda peddled directly from House and Senate offices. We have had lying in our discourse since the beginning of that discourse, but it has been a long while since the fabrications have been so blatant, so absolutely without even the smallest grain of truth. To take a Republican-sponsored healthcare provision that rather innocently and uncontroversially extends insurance coverage to those that want to create their own living wills and turn it into a declaration that the government will decide every five years whether or not you should be euthanized is something out of the Protocols, or out of Saddam’s Iraq, or a mimicry of the worst and most stupid and most absurd of North Korean propaganda towards their own citizens.

Likewise, the explicit instruction to protestors not to debate, but to aggressively attempt to shut down the meetings entirely — not normal. It is perhaps the best possible approach for insurance lobbyists to take, if their goal is to protect the profits of their industry — but it is still not normal. We have always had the fringes of such speech, but I cannot recall a time it has been so celebrated as the formal solution to political debate. Certainly not by a major political party, coupled with the majority of their most popular pundits and talking heads, coupled again to lobbyist groups with long histories of corporate astroturfing. And the proud shuffling just-up-to-the-line-of-violence, right in the very faces of their own representatives of Congress, requiring police protection in order to escort those elected representatives safely from the meetings — that part is new. That part is not normal.

It’s been normal in the battle for gay rights for decades now…you’re only just now noticing it, because they’ve moved beyond us.  But you have to understand this: you’ve always been the target too.  A free, just, and proud America has always been their target.  The America of liberty and justice for all has always been their target.  Because in that America, they’re then just a bunch of ignorant runts, resentful that the universe doesn’t revolve around them, resentful of everything fine and noble human beings can be, they they never will because it’s too much work.

You haven’t seen the hate like your gay neighbors have seen it.  Now you are.  Surprised?  Shocked?  Just wait until you realize, really realize, that there is no bottom there. 

One thing to keep in mind is that race, and racism, have rarely ever acted alone. One of the best points that Phillip Dray makes in his classic history of lynching is that epidemics of lynching often coincided, not just with an expansion of black rights, but with increased labor mobility among white women. So fear of white women, and their independence, as well as fear of sexual competition, all worked in concert. It wasn’t simply "I hate niggers" — it never is. It was "I don’t much like black people, and prices are going up, and I have to let my wife work, so I can survive, and I’m scared she won’t stay with me if she’s not dependent on me and I’d die if she left me for a black guy." Or some such.

Ditto for the Civil Rights Movement. It wasn’t just racism — it was class also. In the South you had this black middle class that always had to be deferential to the most poorest white person in the world. The prospect of losing that deference, of already being lower than the white aristocracy and now also being lower than a class of blacks too, wreaked havoc.

We’ve got governors yelling about secession, and major politicians peddling stories of imminent threats to your family and your children by the very government they are supposedly a part of, and every day the town hall footage just seems to look more and more like a modernized version of the mob attacks against citizens and legislators during old anti-desegregation rallies, and we don’t need to say "sooner or later someone will be shot" because it has already happened, and multiple times, and in truth it never really left us, these last fifty years.

It wasn’t about desegregation.  It wasn’t about feminism.  It wasn’t about gay rights.  Those were just the flashpoints…the excuses.  It wasn’t about any of those things.  Not ever.  Think about the other major event of the last half of the 20th century…the cold war.  Think about the Iron Curtain.  Think about the Berlin Wall.  Think about all those people who were shot, trying to get over it to freedom.  Think about what was going through the minds of the people who gave the order to shoot and kill those wall climbers.  What this has always been about: The Gutter…resentful, hating everyone who ever managed to rise above them, fearful of being left alone in the gutter, afraid of the day when the walls all fall down and everyone who can leaves them behind and all they’ll have is each other to look at, and to blame.

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