October 21, 2006
Mountain of brokeback identities
I think Iowahawk was really onto something with his open letter from Howard Dean, as the "outing" of gay Republicans is clearly a condescending attempt to confuse and aggravate religious conservatives -- especially those living in rural areas and in the South. While he wasn't writing satire like Iowahawk, a commenter to my earlier post shed some serious light on this mindset:
Excuse me, but the Republicans have spent the last few years demonizing gays and the gay "sexual agenda". They have put forth and passed many laws against gay marriage, and have even tried to amend the Constitution of the United States in the process.I'll put aside whether "I" have appealed to the prejudices of the "family values" crowd or encouraged fear and loathing, because I like to think that a central focus of this blog is precisely the opposite.
Still, the comment is pretty much a serious version of the "Howard Dean letter," and I do think it explains why (in the minds of many Democrats) "outing" gay Republicans, while it may be wrong as applied to the individuals, is nonetheless rendered morally excusable by the existence of bigoted Republicans.
This touches on a point I don't think I stressed enough in my post. While it is true that there are members of the Republican Party who are actual bigots, I think the left is engaged in a very mistaken form of "connect the dots" conflation, in the following manner:
First of all, it is illogical to claim that opposition to same sex marriage constitutes bigotry. But even if we make that leap in logic, it means that not only are 70% of all voters bigoted, but so is the leadership of the Democratic Party, including John Kerry, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and others.
While there is no denying that there are people would love to see all gays expelled from the Republican Party and positions of power (I have criticized this mentality many times), the fact is that the outed homosexuals have neither been fired from their jobs nor expelled from the party.
The latter is of course impossible, because anyone can join either party. Like it or not, NAMBLA supporters are as free to join the Democratic Party as Manson family supporters are to join the Republican Party. (And of course, David Duke is a Republican, while Fred Phelps is a Democrat!)
So have the "chickens" in the Republican Party come home to roost? How many people are there who fit into that category? How many voters? It's undeniable that there is a hard core of genuine homo-haters in the Republican Party, and in addition to them, there are the people who genuinely believe homosexuality threatens Western civilization. To a certain extent, there's overlap between these two, um, "camps."
The film "Brokeback Mountain" might be seen as both a symbol and a barometer -- as a measurement the strength and passion of the anti-gay groups, and as emblematic of the condescension which is often directed at people whose values systems are deemed in danger of total collapse at the mere idea that a cowboy might be gay. I saw the film, and I didn't like this condescending attitude towards red states and "country people." They're human beings, they think genuine human thoughts, and while they might not live in sophisticated cities or hold degrees from Harvard, they're just as likely to have a gay family member as anyone else. To impute bigoted and murderous attitudes to them struck me as a cheap shot. For every Matthew Shepard, countless gay victims die in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco. Bad things can happen anywhere, and I don't think it's any more helpful to stereotype rural red staters as tire iron-wielding homophobes than it is to stereotype gay men as limp-wristed hairdressers.
But on the other hand, I found the hysterical WorldNetDaily reaction to the film even more offensive than the film itself. It never ceases to amaze me how utterly obsessed people can become over the idea that homosexuality threatens Western civilization, and the WND review left me with a disturbing feeling that a major aspect of (at least a major reason in favor of) a film I had disliked had been vindicated.
Jokes about "hillbilly" attitudes aside, I don't think my disagreement with the Jesse Helms approach to human sexuality needs much explaining. There's little question that Jesse Helms and a number of the people of his time and place had indeed a strong animosity towards homosexuals. To the demagogic Glenn Greenwald, the very fact that Jesse Helms was a major figure in the Republican Party is an indictment of all Republicans today, and prima facie evidence that all gay conservatives are self-hating hypocrites.
If you're in bed with people who hate you, you must be a hypocrite, right? But what does that mean? No one is alleging that gay Republicans get on their knees and admit to the doddering Jesse Helmses that they are sick moral degenerates who deserve to die of AIDS. Rather, it's their simple presence in the same tent with people who are alleged to think that way. The way Greenwald and company carry on, you'd think that there wasn't a single soul in the Democrat tent who hated his fellow Americans or wanted to destroy ("deconstruct" is a kind way to put it) the very fabric of Western civilization. Why, it wouldn't surprise me to discover that there were homophobic Muslims deeply embedded in the Democratic Party. True, the primary goal of the latter might more along the lines of defeating America, with killing homosexuals only a "religious" afterthought, but I have no doubt that they are there. There might be some in the Republican Party too, but I think Islamists (whether of the foreign Islamofascist or domestic variety) would generally choose the Democratic Party. That is because the Democratic Party, with its enormous value on "multiculturalism," appeals to all sorts of disunited anti-Western elements. To call them "anti-American" is inaccurate and inadequate, for what I'm calling "anti-Western" is a much broader philosophical movement, which finds a perfect staging ground in the Democratic Party by way of identity politics. This is not to say that all Democrats are anti-Western, or into identity politics, but to deny that followers of Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, Cindy Sheehan, Edward Said and their ilk are staunch Democrats is as much to deny reality as to deny the deep anti-Western philosophy that fuels them.
If there are people in the Democratic Party who hate the West, does that mean that all Democrats who claim not to be anti-Western are actually self hating hypocrites? By the Glenn Greenwald standard, yes.
I don't think the reason gay Republicans have come under such fierce attack is because their attackers really believe their main crime is self hatred. I think the "self hatred" meme is a cover for something else. In logic, self hatred involves a thing called low self esteem. Now, if you think about it, logic would dictate that the last thing anyone who champions the liberal principle of valuing and cherishing self esteem would do would be to attack and hurt people for the crime of having low self esteem.
Rather, I think the ad hominem self-hatred canard conceals the primary split between gay Republicans and gay Democrats, which involves a disagreement over identity politics. Identity politics has become the stock in trade of political manipulation, and I believe it is pretty close to being the very life force of today's Democratic Party. The beauty of this now decades-old, well-oiled machine is that it forces people into categories which define themselves by leftist political principles, thereby insuring that all who are identified must support the left and must vote Democrat or else they have no right to describe themselves as having what is supposed to be their natural, unchangeable "identity." Thus, conservative or libertarian black people are not considered "real" blacks, and conservative or right wing women are not "real" women. They are traitors to their blackness and femaleness. Seen this way, right wing homosexuals are self hating traitors to their very genitalia. But their form of treason is infinitely worse, and far more threatening. That is because the left (and its colluding allies on the far right) see homosexuality as intrinsically leftist in nature, as something only tolerated at all because of left wing activism. Any homosexual who is not on the left has betrayed "his people" and himself in a far worse way than has a non-conforming woman or black person.
Gay refusal to cooperate with identity politics is the highest form of treason, and a dire threat to the very workings of the Democratic Party machine. If this heresy is not stamped out and gay Republicans are tolerated, what becomes of party discipline? Women and blacks might be next. This means that gay Republicans are more than hated; they are feared.
They're feared because they (like the articulate Gay Patriot) dare to say things like this:
Not only do they lack sympathy for these individuals, but it seems that some of those involved in the "outing" campaign want to punish them for not being "good homosexuals," that is, by not adopting the party line on what it means to be gay. It almost seems that they want us to suffer. And their notion of coming out is not to promote the well-being of the individual gay man or lesbian, but so that her or she can become part of an interest group which promotes a left-wing agenda and works to elect Democrats to office.Individualism. The very concept is anathema to those who believe in the primacy of identity politics.
I think the blatant display of such fierce individualism touches on another fear. What sort of person would dare defy a political machine which claims to have defined his identity in the first place, and uses the most personal of characteristics (sexual identity) as political fuel? Certainly it takes an independent spirit to do that, but I think above all it takes courage. Might some of the activists be afraid?
Afraid of the very people they're attacking and "outing"?
I don't know, but if they are, they better hope that the Republicans really are a bunch of rednecks with tire irons.
(As a blogger I'd never heard of before put it, "if Matthew Shepard was a Republican that whole killing him thing was okay." It's amazing how total strangers can articulate what you think without your even knowing it....)
MORE: Sean Kinsell is another brave soul who has managed to defy the strictures of identity politics, and in a recent post, he notes that the "outing" campaign supplies fuel for the old stereotype that gays suffer from arrested development:
The petty vindictiveness on display is of a kind that most people associate more with a junior high school girls' locker room than with adults making serious arguments about social policy. It gives social conservatives more reason to think of gays as suffering from arrested development and poisons the atmosphere for gays thinking about whether now would be a good time to come out.God forbid that identity politics might poison anyone's atmosphere! I mean, aren't the Democrats supposed to be saving the environment?
Look: I loathe the closet. I despise the hypocrisy in the Republican party. But a witch-hunt is a witch-hunt. If the gay left thinks it will advance gay dignity by using tactics that depend on homophobia to work, that violate privacy, that demonizes gay people, then all I can say is: they are wrong. They will regret it. It will come back to haunt them. And they should cut it out. The fact that their motives might be good is no excuse. Everybody on a witchhunt believes their motives are good. But the toxins such a witchhunt exposes, the cruelty it requires, and the fanaticism of its adherents are always dangerous to civilized discourse.Good for Andrew Sullivan! I might not always agree with him, but I'm glad to see he's no slave to identity politics. (Why, on this one he's sounding a lot like Sean Kinsell!)
Gay Republicans are as bad as Nazi collaborators. They are working with the people who would outlaw and exterminate their own kind. And to any moral person, that would be an untenable position. They are not entitled to privacy. It's open season. I am going to be front and center enjoying every bit of the excruciating personal agony and political destruction that is going to rain down like fire from heaven on outed Republicans."Excruciating personal agony and political destruction" may well "rain down" on the outed Republicans, but the point it, it's a
Democratic downpour, not a Republican one.
The whole spiel sounds awfully like "eliminationist rhetoric," but that's not my term.
(The gay Republicans should probably consider themselves lucky that for the most part they don't have children.)
posted by Eric on 10.21.06 at 10:09 AM
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