August 14, 2008
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.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
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