Call Out the Bigots

No BigotsThe high point of yesterday’s hearings was when Elena Kagan read the Congressional justification of the Defense of Marriage Act. “Congress decided to reflect and honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.” Ouch! But Paul Clement was quick on his feet and noted that, yes, it does say that, but that the court really shouldn’t look at that statement because it was just what some minority of congress members thought. Is that true?

Let me put this in three different ways. Of course not! Of course not! Of course not! Is Clement fucking kidding me? All these kinds of anti-gay laws are enacted because those enacting them hate gays. It is as simple as that. And it was repugnant listening to his song and dance about how DOMA was just meant to clarify the law. Look: there are two ways to clarify the law: accept same sex marriage or reject it. DOMA not only rejected it on the state level (red states don’t have to recognize the satanic blue state same sex marriage laws), it rejected it on the federal level. All together now: because they hated gays!

One thing that I most hate about conservatives is how they are never held accountable for their vile policy positions. Jonathan Chait wrote about that this morning, Next Stage for Gay Rights: Conservative Amnesia. His anger in the article is that conservatives are already trying to rewrite their positions on gay rights, even before they’ve changed their positions on gay rights. Rob Portman does not a movement make.

But as the hearing yesterday shows: rewriting is not valid. Republicans have been horrible on issues related to gay rights. As I pointed out yesterday, it’s all about their Christian Intolerance. Of course, much the same thing can be said of Democrats. But all the liberalization of views toward gay rights that we’ve seen over the past decade or so? That’s almost entirely Democrats. Republicans (especially politicians) are not much more evolved on the subject than they were before.

Jonathan Chait wrote a brilliant article last year about how conservatives were trying to rewrite their history of racism, The Conservative Fantasy History of Civil Rights. It is interesting how they’ve attempted to do this. They just pretend that the second half of the twentieth century never happened. Yep: the Democratic Party was very racist in the 19th century! The Republicans ended slavery! Therefore: Democrats are racists today and Republicans are the defenders of minority rights!

E. J. Graff wrote a really good article over at The American Prospect that gets right to the heart of what is going on, Falling Through the Looking Glass. She notes that we are looking at two worlds at once: the past with all its hatred of gays and the future where no one (outside the religious extremists) will care. But here’s the thing: she sees these things in the same people. Because the people against gay rights will no longer admit (in polite company anyway) that they hate the gays. In fact, most of the time, they’re just looking out for them!

Twenty years from now, all politicians will be in favor of gay rights. It won’t be a partisan issue. Even the people who voted for DOMA will claim they were always for gay rights. It is just that they wanted to clarify what marriage meant! But I’m not inclined to let them get away with it. We will never go back. Allowing bigots to save face does not have to be part of the deal.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Call Out the Bigots

  1. This kind of historical whitewashing (and it’s literally "white"-washing) isn’t meant, fortunately, to convince anti-racist voters that Republicans are now and ever have been on their side. It’s meant to assuage Republican consciences that they are, in fact, not racists. You can loathe immigrants, misrepresent every social program as thievery taking money from hardworking makers and giving it to shiftless takers, but, dammit, you’re NOT racist. It’s the Democrats who are, by believing oppressed citizens need help! They’re patronizing! They’re creating a culture of dependency! Oh, and you can make out that bailout check to my Caymans account, by the way . . .

    My heroine, Ms. Jacoby, does a good job excoriating a version of this nonsense in "Freethinkers." Republicans/Christian fundamentalists (the distinction between the two grows narrower daily) have been claiming for years that Christianity ended slavery and segregation; only such a morally focused movement could. (We secularists, by contrast, have no moral core and stand for nothing.)

    Weeeeeeellllllll . . . that’s kinda true. Christian churches did play a huge part in ending segregation — if by "Christian churches" you mean "Black churches" and "Northern Jews." White Christian churches, particularly white Southern churches, were almost unanimously opposed. (Protestant saint Billy Graham was a prominent critic of civil rights; being so made him famous, in fact.) And the Christian churches opposed to slavery (not many, not many at all) tended to be radical leftist denominations like the Unitarians.

    The dumb Kevin Williamson article which started this nonsense completely ignores how different political parties were then as opposed to now. Fighting Bob LaFollette was a Republican; so was the less useful Teddy Roosevelt, whose moderate policies would be decried as "socialism" today by the GOP. Political parties weren’t purely theater, as they are today; they were competing organizations of voter mobilization. Our modern parties want money and votes from citizens come election time, but after that the will of the electorate is a thing to be manipulated, not a guide for policy formation.

    Comparing the racist wing of the circa-1900 Democratic party to today’s party is a joke, and no editor worth her/his salt would print an article claiming it. Everyone was racist then. Democrats and Progressives hated blacks; Republicans hated the Irish and Italians. Everybody hated Jews. (American Communists were the most inclusive, if we want to salute century-old political trends.)

    They’ve been successful at this shit before; they’ve turned Reagan into a statesman (and defaced a perfectly good DC airport by renaming it in his dishonor) instead of the doddering line-reader he was. One thing I will always credit the right-wing for; they stay on message. They come up with a poll-tested, rural focus-group-approved talking point of pure malice and get all their soldiers to fall in line. It’s how they posthumously made Reagan a wizard rather than withered, and how they convinced the country that anything done by a business is better than anything done by democratic government, even when daily evidence should convince everyone of the contrary.

    Is their mighty message-making machine beginning to show cracks? The military is still (wrongly) idealized, yet its wars are not, and this gays-are-humans thing threatens to separate one segment of the base (rich people) from the other (fundamentalists.) I think so. Just cracks, mind you, not impassible fractures, and I’m sure they’ll recover their mojo soon. The cracks are a little wider, though, than we’ve seen them in a while. And this is a good, good thing.

  2. @JMF – I’m interested in how Christians claim to have brought an end to slavery. While many northern churches pushed it, the southern churches rightly pointed to all the places in the Bible that said, "Slavery rocks!"

    And then, you have modern Christians hearkening back to slavery when most of them, as you note, were totally against the civil rights movement. That’s the Republican Party today, of course.

    Note how the civil rights movement was vilified as being a communist plot. It’s almost as though the Christian movement was more concerned about the Cold War than they were about religion. Just kidding! It is [i]exactly[/i] that the Christian movement was more concerned about the Cold War than they were about religion. And that’s still true of conservatives today. They don’t seem to have noticed that the Cold War is over. Remember Romney’s claim that Russia was our number one geopolitical foe?

  3. Romney’s resurrection of the Red Menace (not as good as Palin’s "I can see Russia from here" line, but close) isn’t quite as Cold War and non-religious as you put it — at least, not in my experience with Christian fundamentalists.

    A selling point of the Cold War was always that Soviets banned religion (they don’t now, for better or worse.) So Russia wasn’t just a threat (they really weren’t) but the Godless Commies, capable of blowing the planet to smithereens (they weren’t, we were) because of their awful atheism. (Which they didn’t really have; the government officially discouraged religion but wasn’t dumb enough to try and stamp out the Orthodox church.)

    Romney’s, and Palin’s, referencing of Russia as Baddie Numero Uno isn’t Cold War nostalgia, not exactly — it’s code for pimping to Americans who believe all international politics are shenanigans meant to facilitate the Antichrist’s ongoing goal of forcing our God-chosen citizens to give up their Bibles and swear fealty to liberal amoralism.

    This shit’s not a joke — my father believes it intensely, and I’ve heard many other fundamentalists say the same. That Russia is a country like any other country, with a power elite looking to advance its own interests, is a concept they dismiss or regard as a ruse. Russians ARE part of Satan’s plan, and anyone who ignores this is falling into that trap established by The Father Of Lies. (No, not Cheney.)

    The story of American politics in our age is how right-wing economic thinkers (more military, lower taxes, less safety net) managed to con voodoo-believing fundamentalist Christians into assuming their interests coincided. I’m still not quite sure how this happened.

    But, hey, I deserve points for referring to fundamentalists as voodoo-believing and not Neanderthals. I takes I while, but I can learn.

  4. I just saw the light. The deterioration to almost oblivion of the GOP can be traced back to one comment by Ex-President GHW Bush when he said that Ex-President Reagan’s economic ideas, i.e. trickle down economics, was Voodoo economics.

    I have always wondered how he squared that statement with his ambition to be Mr Reagan’s V-P.

    The rot and self-serving are truly at the top!

  5. @H Jacobs – I think that was always a sticking point for Mr. Bush. And as I recall, the part of the party that he represented really did think that Reagan was dangerous. Of course, now Reagan would be considered a moderate, if not a socialist. (But that kind of comparison is always questionable, because we know that Reagan was as conservative as he could be given the environment; if he were alive today, he’d be as crazy as anyone in the party.)

    Things are indeed bad, but just wait until next week!

  6. @JMF – I don’t think I really follow what you are saying regarding Russia and the Christians. Can you clarify?

    My take is just that in the 1950s, Ike (I think) contrasted us regarding the USSR as being that we were, "A nation of believers." That was part of the Cold War: another way to say, "They’re different." To most people, that’s what religion is: part of our culture. In fact, one of my most intense Christian friends refers to most Christians as "Cultural Christians." He means that it isn’t really a theology; they are just Christians because that’s what "good" people do. I think most conservative Christians think this is what defines the "real" America: belief in God and country–even if their religion has as much to do with theology as a bowling team.

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