Part 4: The Last Safe American Bigotry
“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything… In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing.” —Senator Richard Santorum
Opportunistic politicians have used gay issues to galvanize and unite their
conservative base, while gay activists have used the spotlight
thrown on them by those same conservative politicians to get
traction beneath their own issues. Seems like everybody is using
everybody and it's all just shoved in our face, in overdrive,
every day. And I'm just so sick of hearing about this. Talking
about this. Having to deal with this. So, why are we back here,
at this topic I am so weary of? Because, caught between the
church and the politicians and the activists and the media and
the secret agendas on all sides—are actual flesh and blood
people. People who are being cruelly used by Christians and gay
activists and politicians to advance their respective agendas.
The net result being these people, who, as all people do,
desperately need Christ, are turned away from the very thing
they need most in their lives. Hostility toward the church is a
real component of gay civil rights activism, a movement that has
been utterly co-opted by anti-Christian forces to the point
where the gay rights movement has become synonymous with the
anti-church or anti-Christian movement. It is a Gnostic movement
cloaked as a civil rights effort, when, in truth, it is, in many
ways, as politically cynical and spiritually bankrupt as the
Washington politicians who pander to the religious right while
freely oppressing an entire demographic group or, for that
matter, the “moral” Christian right that portends to defend
Christian values by preaching hate.
These days, Republicans are so overtly racist they barely even attempt to appear otherwise. Racism is big for them. There is a longing across Conservative America to put the Spics and the Darkies in their place, Barack Obama’s ascension has simply inflamed the far right to the extent that any GOP candidate trying to gain traction in this election season needs to provide at least the air of assurance that, if elected, they will set things back in order. “Taking Our Country Back” is not so much racist code but a bold declaration: We Want Things The Way They Used To Be. With all the on-air whining, all the man-on-the-street interviews about the terrible economy, I have not once heard a white person lament the despairing economic plight of blacks or other minorities. Not one person have I heard say, “Well, as bad as things are for me, black unemployment is way higher,” or, “At least I know I’ll be re-hired before the black guy will.” And you won’t hear that. Like every other nation, America is divided by tribalism. I won’t hear any unemployed blacks offering up sympathy for whites, either.
Republicans have historically not done well among blacks, this in spite of Abraham Lincoln’s freeing the slaves. I have absolutely no doubt that, if the evil—yes, evil—Republicans of 2011 were around in Lincoln’s time, we’d still be on the plantation. Republicans these days have demonstrated, repeatedly, a calculated disregard for human suffering and personal liberty. More than any time I can remember, our current crop of Republicans are vicious, calculating lying, homophobic bigots. In 1865, these men would absolutely have allowed millions of blacks to continue to suffer brutality, murder and rape, if it would achieve even a small political end. I have never in my life seen a bigger bunch of phonies, of cruel faces concerned exclusively about keeping their jobs.
Mind you, Democrats lie, too, but Republicans are much better at it because Republicans understand how gullible, uninformed and intellectually lazy the American people are, particularly their base—the less-thoughtful incarnations of George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. These are people who make a virtue of being uninformed, who mock intellectualism, who are easily threatened by change, and whose lives are guided by stuff they done heard someplace. It is on these folks’ shoulders that intolerant and demonstrably stupid candidates like Palin and Michele Bachmann rise to prominence. Two dizzy women who think Paul Revere rode around ringing bells and firing volleys of shots from a single-action musket, and who actually believe America’s founding fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more.” These shallow, empty, intellectually lazy, too-lazy-to-even-glance-at-the-research-before-opening-their-big-mouth bigoted white women and their pasty male counterparts bob up into view mainly because they represent the overall tenor of the conservative movement. And, while these folks are indeed hostile to blacks, they absolutely despise gays and do so openly.
Liberal defenders of gay causes are routinely shouted down by the bigot brigade of reactionary uninformed balloon heads clamoring for Obama to lose the election or be assassinated—either will do. Hate speech, barely draped in the gossamer of a feint toward civility, is routinely and pointedly directed toward gays. This, too, is a kind of code: Elect Me And All Gays Will Disappear. Vote For Me And I Will Fix Everything, put the fags and the darkies in their place. This is the blessed assurance of the GOP candidates: to win the hearts and minds of stupid people, the stupider the better. Only truly stupid people, invested in their own psychotic world of Ozzie and Harriet, will choose to not see the historic nature of Barack Obama’s presidency. Only stupid people will choose instead to back these nitwit Republicans who have no plan other than to complain about the president; a president who has accomplished more in 20 months than George W. did in eight long years.
Gays are the favorite political soccer ball
for these people, particularly haughty right-wing bigot Rick
Santorum, the foundation of whose political career is literally
built on heinous and dehumanizing anti-gay rhetoric (see
sidebar).. People like Santorum cynically use LGBT issues to
fuel their campaign. They openly revile gays and kick gays
around at every possible opportunity. If they can offend blacks
and gays at the same time, that’s a twofer for them. Without the
crackpot reactionary Teapot types, the GOP is dead in the water.
They lost the moderates by tucking too far right during the
McCain campaign, making the gentile, reasonable, moderate McCain
sound like Stalin and then like a doddering Uncle Fester after he picked the
Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Independents, like myself, ran for cover and, faced with a
choice between the Rookie and the real possibility of Palin
being sworn in as president, voted Obama. The president has now
lost most middle-of-the-roaders by coming across as aloof and
disconnected, idly wandering the halls of the White House
residence admiring the China patterns. This is the president’s
image, not Mandingo, as white feared, but of Professor Fluffy,
the disparaging nickname White House staffers had for President
Josiah Bartlett no The West Wing. Martin Sheen’s Bartlett could
occasionally shift out of phase with the public and, frankly,
reality, retreating into an academic haze and treating important
national concerns as lab theorems.
I admire the president’s intellectualism but am concerned about his lack of gumption. Gumption was, at the end of the day, all George W. Bush had. Obama is too far in the other direction, the sterile intellectual wandering the halls. America needs a decisive crotch-grabbing dynamo, like New Jersey GOP governor Chris Christie. Obama comes across like Christie’s valet.
What the president does have going for him is the GOP has alienated most any reasonable and thinking person by their nomination of certified balloon head Sarah Palin. Winning back thinking people may be beyond the GOP’s reach. Now, instead of moving back to their usual right-of-center faux reasonableness, Republicans are doubling down on both racism and homophobia, dismissing two demographics they know, full well, they have no shot at in an effort to appease the build-your-own-still crowd. Christie would provide good theatre but has an expiration date: we’d tire of his act pretty soon and, beyond that haze, we’d realize Christie is actually just a human being like everybody else. A reasonable guy like Jon Huntsman could be a real danger to the president’s reelection chances, but it is unlikely the right fringe with their foil hats will ever forgive Huntsman for once having served in the Obama administration, and nobody wants to see an Uncle Fluffy vs. Uncle Fluffy steel cage match. Because the Republicans need the crazies to have even a remote shot at unseating the president, they really can’t go with somebody who might actually beat Obama. Ironically, in order to have any chance at all, the GOP must turn toward ridiculous considerations like Michele Bachmann or Texas Governor Rick Perry, a guy with a strong resume and a great chin but who clearly has left a gate open somewhere. I can't yet put my finger on it, but Perry seems a little nuts to me. No thinking, adult, sober male is going to vote for these certifiably insane people, but only these kinds of candidates can gain any traction in this heated environment. The wingnuts are all the GOP can really bank on.
All of which means this will be an increasingly tough season
for the LGBT community,
whom conservatives love to oppress just to
get a headline. A conservative candidate will do or say
something simply awful, something that would earn them the wrath
of the NAACP or Urban League if they’d said it about blacks. But
what is the gay equivalent, and who pays attention to it? Gays
remain the last safe American bigotry. It’s really hard to get
into too-hot water by disparaging gays because only other gays
and liberals will rush to their defense. Moderates care about
this only moderately and anybody right of center likely just
As a result, hundreds of candidates running for everything from city council to U.S. president, will find a way—invent a way—to shoehorn the gay question into their campaign. Similar to the way the GOP keeps invoking slavery into their dialogue, every Republican candidate knows homophobia is good for business. Anything that divides people, that sets people against one another, ultimately benefits conservative causes because it rallies the base, it unites the right flank and energizes the campaign. Insult a gay person, earn yourself a set of steak knives. Nobody cares if homosexuals are insulted because the pushback is usually ineffective. Millions of gays, afraid to come out, won’t even bother. Liberals are already not on the GOP team, so who cares if they’re offended. Vote For Me, I’ll Put Things Right Again.
The tactic is, of course, reprehensible. But this is what they are doing. This is what they have always done. The behavior disturbs me all the more because it can and just as easily could or will be us. The only reason the GOP takes oblique angles coming after us is getting caught in a frontal assault on blacks will have severe blowback. So, instead, they find clever ways to bring their race hate for blacks in under the wire, in some defensible posture. But gays, they just let it fly. Their slogan may as well be, We Know You Hate Gays. We Hate ‘Em, Too.