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.

It is sad that leftists are outing the gays among the Republicans. That is wrong and will come back to bite them.

But guess what? The religious extremists that the Republicans have catered to and nurtured want those outed gays expelled from the party and positions of power!

Surpised? The chickens have come home to roost, and the Republicans have only themselves to blame.

Trying to distract the country by appealling to the prejudices of the "family values" crowd can only work for a while. Seeing sons and daughters being flown off to a war with no end strikes to the heart of much deeper family values. That sacrifice is being ignored. It is going to be a "comma" in history.

So please, don't act all surprised. You've encouraged the fear and loathing. Now those same phobias are being used against you. You've taught the extreme left well.

Too bad there are no real accomplishments for the Republicans to fall back on.

Enjoy the election.

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:

  • Opposition to gay marriage is bigotry.
  • There are people who "want those outed gays expelled from the party and positions of power."
  • Therefore, either the "bigots" are in control of the Republican Party, or at least there are so many of them that if they stay home in response to the outing strategy, Republican defeat is assured.
  • 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.

    They see us not as gay individuals, but as members of yet another interest group advancing the left-wing cause. No wonder they treat us as apostates.

    While many of the leaders of the gay movement see themselves as part of a broad "progressive" force to change society, gay conservatives know that the modern American conservatism developed in opposition to the growth of the secular state. At least since Barry Goldwater, their focus has been on freedom, the right of the individual to live his life as he sees fit. Individualism has been at the core of American conservatism since its very early days.

    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?

    AND MORE: If Andrew Sullivan's post on the subject is any indication, the outing campaign is (as Glenn Reynolds says) generating blowback:

    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!)

    MORE (10/23/06): Via Glenn Reynolds, Fire Dog Lake articulates the pro-"outing" position of the hard left (some would say "looney left") left:

    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


    While I wouldn't even attempt to suggest that there aren't gay bigots in the Republican party or on the conservative side of the aisle, to suggest that only conservatives fit that model is preposterous. But it wouldn't be the first time the Left refused to acknowledge evidence that didn't fit their world view.

    For example, I worked with the President of the Pink Pistols in Houston. He signed his emails "If Matthew Shepherd had a gun, he wouldn't be dead."

    Boy did that piss off the netroots types and self-protection apologists. It made people ANGRY. Good. They need to be angry.

    The issue, I believe, is in approach. Conservatives can't stand whining. If you are a member of a minority group, especially an often repressed or oppressed one, then you have a duty to protect yourself. Recognize that you are at risk and respond appropriately.

    I don't see the Left working with organizations like the Pink Pistols (or sharing their goals) to get gays and lesbians to protect themselves, and empowering them to do so with their actions and deeds.

    I don't see the Left working with women in battered women shelters, teaching them to shoot, and getting others in their cadre to DONATE GUNS to them.

    No, they donate cell phones to them. So they can call the police. I assume so that the women can have their dead bodies collected sooner.

    I don't see the Left telling teenage girls that getting pregnant without getting married first, and without having the skills to support themselves will HURT them. It will hurt them AND their children. The Left enables this behavior by condoning it, by feeding it, because their underlying belief is that these young girls are incapable of demonstrating restraint.

    It truly is an ideological chasm.

    Conservatives empower individuals by demanding they control themselves by accepting responsibility for their actions, self-protection, and social standing. BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE TRULY EQUALS AND CAPABLE OF BEHAVING EQUALLY. They don't get a pass because no capable/equal person gets a pass.

    The Left wants the government to protect them. Now which side of the aisle truly believes they are equal citizens? If you feel the need to protect someone, rather than teaching them to protect themselves, then you are treating them like inferiors, like children. It's the equivalent of patting them on the head and saying "don't you worry your pretty little head about that. We'll take care of you...because we KNOW you can't take care of yourself."

    The Left doesn't believe they are equal or capable. Everything about special protections and entitlements proves that. They just like having them around as tokens, to demonstrate how tolerant and accepting they are. But when it comes to their actions, everything about what they do says, "you're inferior and incapable."

    The government cannot protect anyone and is precluded (by the Constitution) from giving anyone special status. The government cannot impose "acceptance" by judicial fiat. You have to earn acceptance and while that might be a difficult or impossible task, it's the only way.

    Maybe, just maybe, the gays and lesbians working on the Republican side of the aisle actually AGREE with the men and women they serve. Maybe they're perfectly capable of making a decision on their own and recognizing an ally when they see one.

    Mrs. du Toit   ·  October 21, 2006 11:29 AM

    This is really a terrific post about the tyranny of identity politics - how it often oppresses people as much as empowers them, perhaps more so, the silly "self-loathing" charge being a good example of that. I've written and said a number of times that the concept of "gay traitor" or of conservative or Republican gays as a "problem" presupposes that all gays a have a duty of loyalty to support anything and everything the vanguard of the gay political establishment supports. I submit that this duty of loyalty simply does not exist.

    By the way, check out this lesbian counterdemonstrator to a bunch of annoying anti-gay fundamentalist protestors. Not a single shred of self-loathing there. Her self-respect is simply awe-inspiring. Just imagine how disgraceful it would be if she were a lesbian Republican instead.

    Patrick Rothwell   ·  October 21, 2006 4:09 PM

    The yawning trap of "identity politics" (just a new name for 70's meme "the personal is the political) is the cognitive dissonance it can create.

    How does "Queers for Palestine" even function with their clear hatred of Israel (westernized and very gay-friendly) while supporting a culture that would murder them in an instance?

    Identity politics is secular fundamentalism. It doesn't advance ideas or dialogue. Indeed, it shuts it off by declaring "because you are X, this is the only way you are allowed to view the world"... Period. No argument, no questions.

    Ironic from a group that sports t-shirts and bumperstickers stating "Question Authority"

    I occassionally drop in on the radical feminist blogsphere... and so many times they are involved in arguments on what makes an 'authentic' feminist... Can you wear lipgloss, or is that surrender to The Patriarchal paradigm?

    It's junior high cliquishness as a way of life!

    Darleen   ·  October 21, 2006 9:18 PM

    "Why, on this one he's sounding a lot like Sean Kinsell!"

    When I've successfully executed my plan for TOTAL GLOBAL DOMINATION, you'll all be coopted.

    "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."

    Interesting that you say that, Eric, because it's the reverse of the usual order. Usually, you can predict what the stupidest queer activists will be saying in five years by paying attention to what the stupidest feminist and ethnic activists are saying right now. As Darleen says above, many of their governing ideas were cooked up in the 1970s and have been going through rebranding ever since.

    Sean Kinsell   ·  October 21, 2006 11:59 PM

    Hypocrisy thy name is identity politics.

    If you know how you precisely what your opinion will be on a "political" hot button issue, BEFORE you hear the facts...the early chalk on you becoming a hypocrite while advancing its tenets ... is 100 to 1.

    If you stand firmly against sexual harassment in the workplace,...but not if it's a Democratic high profile have principles of convenience.

    If you stand firmly against drunk driving, reckless homicide based on drunk driving, and a political coverup of reckless homicide while driving drunk...except when it's a Democratic high profile have principles of convenience.

    If you believe in the advancement of people of color, if you believe that they are entitled to every right, benefit, enjoyment of American life...except when they decide freely to associate, congregate or freely speak out against liberal have principles of convenience.

    If you believe that gay people are entitled to every right, benefit, enjoyment of American life and they not ought to be picked on simply for the mere fact of who is in their bedroom doing what to whom...except if they dare to oppose "liberalthink"...then they deserve all they get and are a hypocrite of the first order.

    SOME people oppose abortion, gay marriage, embryo stem cell research, ...because they believe in tradition and/or have faith based ethics and morals.

    I'm not strongly faith based, not very I fall on the side of issues after hearing the facts and coming to conclusions based on analyzing them under my own system of ethics and morality. But I can't bring myself to disrespect those people who DO USE faith as the core of their decision-making process.

    Abortion and embryo stem cell research violate their belief that life begins at conception. To callously destroy innocent "life"...even at that early stage...can't be countenanced for them.

    Some people draw the line at the third trimester of life formation, some at the second trimester...some not at all...until it has left the birth canal and the umbilical cord has been severed. But it seems to me that tolerance for the faith based position would bring GENTLE disagreement from people who declare so loudly to be "anti-violence, anti-war, anti-destruction of trees, anti-destruction of animals, ...the docile, doe-eyed, vegetarian...that is so often portrayed in broad strokes, sans nuance...vs. the meat-eating predator on the right.

    Yet, that's not what happens. The argument devolves into an angry screed AGAINST the faith based morals as being "backwoods", anti-individual, anti-choice, bigoted, racist...."too stupid to know better".

    Gay marriage is truly...for 3/4 of this country...more about preserving tradition...than it is about gay rights.
    Traditionalists view marriage as a sacrament, a faith based celebration between a man and a woman. If you change the groundrules, you are attacking their freedom of religion. It changes the covenant for them. And if you FORCE it on them because you are cramming "liberalthink" down their throats and calling them names, insinuating that they are imbeciles because they don't embrace the experience of being forcefed "liberalthink"...the pushback you will get is stronger than their foundational beliefs about preserving tradition.

    Seek to understand, then seek to analyze, then seek to persuade, THEN seek to change. Change at the end of a "liberalthink" bayonnette what shed more light on a subject...but it will ...more heat.

    Perhaps this is what the anarchists, socialists, communists "contrarians" on the left want in the first place. In the final analysis what they thrive on is chaos. They reject order, they hate rules, they despise authority, they sneer at tradition, they hurl bile at Judeo-Christian morality.

    Why not create strawmen on the "right" who are played in broadstrokes without nuance...and then threaten everyone who doeasn't agree with "liberalthink" with being cast as the "villain" in this little passion play?

    If you own information stream (college professorships, filmmakers, media) just keep pounding the message out their.

    And severely PUNISH any person of color, any gay person, any politician, any actor, any professor and any REPORTER who dares to cross the line against "liberalthink".

    Understand this...and you completely understand the power of the "liberalthink" culture. Anyone who is not completely with the enemy. And if our enemies mimick "liberalthink" thoughts...they will be supported against us. Thus runs principles of convenience.

    cf bleachers   ·  October 22, 2006 10:56 AM

    The Nazi collaborator charge is on its face absurd. Since when has James Dobson or Tony Perkins called for the "extermination" of gays? While it is obviously true that many on the religious right support sodomy laws, even there, most of the intellectual vanguard like R. George and H. Arkes want to keep them for the purpose of expressing societal disapproval of sodomy, not to cart off all the sodomites to prison or concentration camps. One can reject George's and Arkes' reasoning, (as I do), while recognizing the obvious fact that they would not support a lavender krystallnacht. Certainly, the Republican Party as such - as opposed to some of the more extreme religious right partisans - has not committed itself to Nazi-esque suppression of gays, and those who think otherwise are seriously deluded.

    A more subtle problem with Fire Dog Lake's argument is that he presupposes that gays cannot and should never be a part of a political coalition with vehement anti-gays. If that is true, then he must condemn, on the same basis, the long history of political collaboration by left-wing gay activists with other left-wing constituencies which are otherwise directly adverse to "gay rights" interests, such as Arab and Palestinian nationalists, peace nuclear-freeze activists who sympathized with the Soviet Union, supporters for the Fidel Castro regime, left-wing African insurgents/terrorists like Mugabe, etc., some of whom, incidently, were or are a part of the radical left wing fringe of the Democratic Party. Presumably, the political common interests of the gay leftists with these constituents outweigh the negatives. No doubt the same is largely true of gays and the coalition of myriad political interests that make up the Republican Party, though, in my view, sharing a common political party with Dr. Dobson is far, far less odious than having Castro, Brezhnev/Andropov/Gorbachev, etc. as one's political bedfellow.

    Patrick Rothwell   ·  October 23, 2006 5:20 PM

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