Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Droppings from the Bilgrimage Birdcage: "When the Critical Moment for Cultural Change Is Reached, the Hate Becomes Intense"

I'm struck by a wise observation of Ruth Krall in response to my posting yesterday about how the actual behavior of some U.S. Catholics belies the claim that the Catholic church is shifting into welcoming-and-mercy mode today. I want to share Ruth's comment with you all, so that no one misses it while it's tucked away in a combox.

Ruth writes, 

When the critical moment for cultural change is reached, the hate becomes intense. We are approaching that critical moment when the world shifts. The folks who do not want to live in this new world live in hate and in fear. Let us not join them but keep working for the moment when the new world comes into being.

This strikes me as right on the money, and it's wisdom I need to hear, since I live in one of those places in which the response to the impending "critical movement for cultural change" is especially perfervid right now. I live in one of those places in which the hate, which has never been far from the surface, is now daring to come right out into the open, daring to speak its name.

And so it's difficult for me to see much of anything else, because I'm walled-in, as it were, by wall-to-wall hate right now in my own locale, where the "no cakes for queers" bills are coming hot and heavy from my state legislature, as in Oklahoma, where, as Julie Lurie recently reported for Mother Jones, twelve anti-gay bills have been filed this legislative session alone.

As Max Brantley wrote yesterday for Arkansas Times, there is a huge push right now, in which Arkansas's new GOP governor Asa Hutchinson is involved as he panders to his Christian right base, to move the so-called "conscience protection" bill out of committe and to a legislative vote. This is yet another of those bogus "religious freedom" bills that the U.S. Catholic bishops have set into motion around the country, which claim, ludicrously, that Christians are being persecuted and that the gays are threats to Christian rights. It's, in short, anti-gay legislation that deliberately targets a tiny, vulnerable minority in a state whose entire culture and political life are totally saturated with evangelical Christian beliefs and values, and where there is no threat at all to evangelical Christian cultural and political hegemony.

The new talking point (you heard it here first!) of this bogus "religious freedom" anti-gay political campaign throughout the country is going to be that discrimination is good for business. That's right: you heard right. Though one well-conducted study after another for years now, including Richard Florida's work on the "creative class," shows that educated, creative people who spur economic growth avoid openly bigoted communities like the plague, the Christian right and its political machine now intend to argue that anti-gay and anti-woman discrimination is good for business.

This is the silly argument pushed by the initial anti-gay law in Arkansas this legislative session, the so-called Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act, which prohibits any local community from passing ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination. As I've noted, the Arkansas bill was clearly designed to be cloned, to be used as a template by other states toying with the idea of targeting the gays (and women) to attract business (!), and as the link I've just added above notes, West Virginia followed Arkansas's lead in considering an "intrastate commerce improvement act," though to the credit of that state, the legislature has ended its session without moving this anti-gay bill to the floor for a vote.

In Kansas, though, look how anti-gay hate-group leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and the right-wing Opus-Dei-leaning Catholic governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, want to frame Brownback's anti-gay, anti-women's rights political agenda: it's good for business. Though it's not, of course. Kansas is in such dire economic straits under Brownback's leadership that just about every program run out of the state budget has had to be slashed to the bone, and Brownback has had to renege on his promise not to implement new taxes.

Even so, in the face of clear evidence to the contrary — in spite of massive evidence that laws targeting minority communities run businesses away from an area and deter the creative and educative people that are the lifeblood of a growing economy from settling there — the Christian right clearly thinks it has coined a nifty new meme with the Arkansas Intrastate Commenrce Improvement Act, and intends now to bear down hard on the claim that discrimination is good for business. 

Because freedom. Something like that. We're going to hear a lot more of this in months to come.

And so I agree with Ruth that the U.S. is moving to a critical moment for cultural change in the area of LGBT rights. Because of where I live, however, walled-in as I am with religiously inspired hate right now, it's hard for me to see clearly that this critical moment will actually tip in favor of gay rights. 

I wonder if the scales are not still in play, and if they might just as well tip in the opposite direction. And I wonder, if that happens, whether the many people who voted Republican in the fall elections in the U.S., who claim that they love and support gay people, will acknowledge any responsibility at all for setting into motion this orgy of anti-gay hate that's now in such rich display in many places in the U.S. To be specific: I wonder if the majority of white Catholics who now vote Republican in historic numbers (see Patricia Miller's excellent analysis of this), many of whom claim to support gay rights, will own their complicity in setting anti-gay actions into motion throughout the U.S., by their GOP votes.

(I do appreciate all of your responses to my doleful posting yesterday, including Ruth's, and intend to acknowledge all of them, when I can muster the energy to do so. I'm very grateful to all of you for the wisdom you shared, and, yes, coolmom, by all means, I'll keep aiming to feed the good wolf — with your help and that of other good readers here.)

No comments: