Individualism: the common enemy

A man who runs a gay cruising site has taken flak for the crime of being a gay person who dared to support John McCain.

Reflecting on the rather strange rule that All Gays Must Support Barack Obama Or Else!, Richard Miniter asks some good questions:

Why should a particular sexual orientation demand a particular political orientation? Sweater-knitters and ice-skaters are not organized along political lines-and neither are all straight people expected to vote for one particular party. Why do Gay rights advocates demand lock-step political obedience? Indeed they seem as vicious against Gay dissenters as they are toward evangelical Christians.
They can be even more vicious. That's because while they won't acknowledge it, gay activists need evangelical Christians -- at least, those of the vehemently anti-gay variety. The latter often help advance the gay cause by creating a backlash, and (perhaps inadvertently) helping perpetuate the stereotypes that fuel identity politics. As I've pointed out repeatedly, this has been going on for decades:
The irony fascinates me, and I'm reminded of Anita Bryant putting gay rights on the cover of Newsweek in the 1970s and Jerry Falwell selling lurid videos filmed at Gay Pride events. All moral issues aside, I think people are titillated by such things, and they are a good way to get attention and bring traffic.

The problem for the attackers is that they bring attention and traffic to the people attacked. If I wrote a book and it wasn't selling, I'd be tickled pink to see WND attack it. With any luck, that might lead to bigger, more organized attacks -- the AFA, the FRC could chime in, and then maybe some angry television personalities.

This phenomenon of profiting from attacks is well known in the blogosphere -- something any unknown blogger lucky enough to be attacked by a big blogger knows. (That's why most big bloggers would ignore attacks by little bloggers, but few little bloggers would ignore attacks from big bloggers. Threats of litigation by the big against the little are even better.)

Shrill anti-gay activists and shrill gay activists might not be literally in bed with each other, but they need each other a lot more than is commonly acknowledged. Without enemies, bigots, and oppressors, identity politics would be a much tougher sell.

Which is why I think Miniter's concluding questions apply to both "sides":

What trouble do they have with a free society where everyone is entitled to go their own way? Why are they tribal, not pro-individual?
Because identity politics is a highly manipulative, very successful form of tribalism, and individualism is enemy number one.

I can think of no better illustration of how seriously this threat is taken than the attempt by the Seattle public school system to define individualism as a form of racism.

(That very revealing definition has since has been purged of course, but they showed their hand.)

posted by Eric on 08.14.08 at 10:29 AM










Comments

"Shrill anti-gay activists and shrill gay activists might not be literally in bed with each other"

No, bed isn't likely, back alley, park, or mens bathroom, perhaps . . .

(seems like closet cases prefer semi-public settings for some reason)

(not all anti-gay activists are closet cases, but it happens often enough, that I wouldn't be surprised if one or two activists on both sides of the issue have 'met' in one way or another in their pasts)

XWL   ·  August 14, 2008 11:08 AM

The further irony is that these interest groups, by guaranteeing their votes to one or the other party, actually undermine their causes. The parties need votes, to get votes they pander. Once a vote is locked up, the pander machine moves on to the next vote.

Under their current state of affairs, neither the Republican nor the Democratic parties have any cause to give a damn about their issues. If they would just put their votes in play, that situation would be reversed.

tim maguire   ·  August 14, 2008 11:38 AM

Minorities often feel powerless, and convince themselves that they are only powerful if they remain united. Such calculations work well for the individuals perceived as the leaders of such groups, but gradually undermine the sense of agency for the rank-and-file, who become even less powerful.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  August 14, 2008 4:19 PM

Of course gay voters CAN vote to McCain, but you don't really think that very many will, do you? Its the same with black voters.

chocolatier   ·  August 14, 2008 8:31 PM

chocolatier, you'd be surprised at how many conservative gays are out there (here in New York City, I know many gay conservatives and even a few gay couples who reliabliy go to the polls every other November to cancel out each other's vote).

"Gay" is not inherently a political position.

tim maguire   ·  August 15, 2008 10:50 AM

tim maguire:
"chocolatier, you'd be surprised at how many conservative gays are out there (here in New York City, I know many gay conservatives and even a few gay couples who reliabliy go to the polls every other November to cancel out each other's vote)."

LOL, Tim. I moved back to the City a few months ago and have acquired a boyfriend since then; that's exactly the story. I will note, however, that it's my man and his liberal fellow-travelers who are gloating over the prospect of my vote being canceled out, not his two or three right-leaning friends and I about theirs (and given the proportion of New York that's likely to go for Obama, you'd think we would be).

Sean Kinsell   ·  August 16, 2008 6:04 PM

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