As Sam King explains in an op-ed piece in today's New York Times, last week, the energy secretary of the U.S., Rick Perry, took the astonishing step of issuing a statement about the election of a study body president at Texas A&M University. Perry is angry that an openly gay young man, Bobby Brooks, was elected president of the A&M student body, when the candidate who got the most votes in this election, Robert McIntosh, was disqualified by the student government court on grounds that he had violated strict rules at the university regarding disclosure of campaign expenses.
At this point, Brooks, the runner-up to McIntosh, became the student body president. Perry claims these events illustrate how the shibboleth of "diversity" is being used to attack people who, well, have rightful ownership of everything under the sun. The rightful owners of everything under the sun are being "marginalized" in societies in which "political correctness" has run amok, and there's a craze for "diversity."
In Sam King's commentary on this story, here's a passage that leaps out at me:
Mr. Perry's very public suggestion that Mr. Brooks was handed the election because he is gay was quickly taken up by Mr. McIntosh. A day after Mr. Perry's essay was published, Mr. McIntosh hired a lawyer to investigate whether he was disqualified "based on the fact that he is a heterosexual, white, Christian male." His lawyer is deciding whether to file a suit on the basis of religious persecution.
The idea that a white, Christian, straight man could be persecuted because of those factors — at one of America's most conservative universities in one of America's most conservative states — has caused some confusion. Many have found the argument outright laughable.
There's much to think about here, it seems to me. Here are some of my initial top-of-head thoughts:
1. So (but many of us have known this all along) the hue and cry about nefarious "diversity" and fascistic "political correctness" and the "marginalization" of straight white males is really about the claim that straight white males are God-ordained owners of everything in the world, isn't it?
2. In what other universe could people like Rick Perry and Robert McIntosh possibly claim that McIntosh's disqualification in a student body election at A&M is an act of "religious persecution" because he is a "heterosexual, white, Christian male"?
3. The implication of the claims Perry and McIntosh are making is that straight white males own the Christian brand (and the world) in some exclusive way.
4. The implication of the claims Perry and McIntosh are making is that Bobby Brooks is not Christian and cannot own the Christian brand because he's gay — yet I can find no information anywhere suggesting that Bobby Brooks campaigned for office at A&M by repudiating and attacking Christianity.
5. What does it do to the Christian brand when people like Rick Perry (or Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin or Steve Bannon or Rod Dreher or a host of other names) are allowed to claim the Christian brand solely because these people happen to be straight white males identifying themselves as Christian?
6. What does it do to the Christian brand at this point in history when many fellow Christians allow this conflation of straight white masculinity with Christianity to go unchallenged?
7. What kind of bona fide Christianity permits itself to be defined in this way, circumscribed in this way, equated with Rick Perry, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Steve Bannon, Rod Dreher, et al.?
8. Is God a straight white male?
9. If not, then on what biblical or theological basis do Rick, Donald, Vladimir, Steve, and Rod rest their claim to represent God in some exclusive, unilateral way that gives them ownership of the world?
10. Are the regimes of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin really the best advertisements possible at this point in history for what it means to follow Jesus Christ and be a Christian?
The photo is from the Facebook page of Bobby Brooks' campaign for the position of student body president at A&M.