Saturday, December 11, 2010

Scott Lively's Pink Swastika Thesis Promoted on Catholic Blog: Some Necessary Critical Questions

I had thought better of noticing this recent discussion at the blog site of a leading American Catholic journal of the center.  It's Advent, and I'm deliberately trying to cultivate hope these days, when so much conduces to quench the fire and light of hope in my heart--and, I suspect, in the hearts of others, as well.

And yet, as I wrote recently, there's a dialectical relationship between cultivating hope and critiquing.  The act of ongoing critique prepares the path for hope, by clearing it of detritus that impedes the hopeful journey.  And the more I think about the comments I'll discuss in a moment, the more it seems to me that they urgently demand critique.  And the more shocking it is to me that the journal in question, America, has recently censored my own comments trying to push back against malicious nonsense of this sort, while it lets the malicious nonsense stand.

Here's the discussion to which I want to draw readers' attention: recently (last Sunday, in fact), Michael O'Loughlin published a valuable overview at America's "In All Things" blog of what's been happening with chaplains and DADT.  As anyone keeping up with the DADT discussion will know, there's quite a split between military chaplains supporting the removal of DADT's ban on openly gay service members, and those who oppose ending the ban.  Many retired chaplains, in particular, most of them representing evangelical churches with strong ties to the Christian right, are fighting the removal of DADT's discriminatory bar against open service of gay and lesbian soldiers.

And here's how one younger Catholic chose to respond to O'Loughlin's questions about the role that chaplains ought to play in the DADT debate: Brett Joyce, a regular contributor to America's blog discussions, logged in to say,

Any army or military force (unless it is only used for defensive war) is the ultimate transgressive organization - it professionally trains men to commit murder - an act that is the ultimate transgression to Christianity and civil society.

In this regard, I would think that the army would welcome such aggressive transgressors such as homosexal men into their ranks as they are already experienced in putting their will and desires above the limits of civilization as we know it - and esp. Christian civilization.

Gay pride/power and military pride/power as very similar if looked at in this way - both are transgressive ideologies.

And then he added,

One more try:

We have a gay guy (in the unit).  He is big, he's mean, and he kills lots of men ("bad guys").  No one cared that he was gay."

So what's this all about?  Where is Joyce getting this ugly meme about gay men as ideal killers, enemies of Christianity and civil society driven by a "transgressive ideology" that makes them kill with abandon?  He's quoting right out of one of the ultra-right playbooks employed by some of the nastiest, most dishonest homophobes in American culture right now, Scott Lively's Pink Swastika.  

Which makes up historical "facts" to show that the Nazi regime was a homosexual regime that deliberately employed gay members, since gays are ruthless killers who murder with abandon because, by being homosexual, they have thrown away all inhibiting social restraints that curb bestial behavior in other people.  Never mind that the Nazis actually murdered gays, sent thousands upon thousands of gays to concentration camps and killed them there.  Lively wants us to believe, in the face of abundant historical evidence to the contrary, that the Nazi regime was homosexually driven, and mass murder is what we'll get if we tolerate openly gay and lesbian human beings in our societies.

And who's spreading these noxious, history-distorting and truth-distorting lies right now in American culture?  None other than Brian Fischer of the American Family Association, who wants us to believe that each and every gay person in our society is a threat to social well-being akin to intravenous drug users, who wants to enact legal sanctions against people simply for being gay, and who is closely allied (as is Scott Lively himself) to the Ugandan movement trying to enact capital punishment of those who happen to be gay in that nation.

And my question as I read Mr. Joyce's comments on the America blog echoing a toxic ideology that suggests gay persons should be susceptible to capital punishment, which sailed through the censorship system at this centrist Catholic publication while comments that push against such malicious nonsense get censored, is this: what business does any Catholic journal have permitting people to spread such dangerous ideas with impunity as acceptable Catholic ideas, while it censors those who challenge such ideas?

Can Mr. Joyce and those who let his comments stand without any criticism at all be really unaware that the conditions for the Holocaust were laid in precisely this way: by taking a despised, stigmatized minority and then smearing it with dirt, telling lies about that minority and its practices so that the social mainstream would eventually turn against a group of people it had been taught to view as a sub-human infection of civil society?

Does any Catholic journal have any business contributing to this kind of social dynamic?  And did we not learn anything from the Nazi period and the Holocaust, and the church's ambiguous and often very shameful role in that period of history?

I think it's important to ask these questions.  Particularly when impressionable young people, some of whom may be struggling very hard with their own sexual orientation within the context of a faith community, might read these comments reducing their very nature to a bestial and anti-human level, and might just choose to give up on life.

P.S. I also keep critiquing even when I know I'm becoming an irritant because I'm convinced that thoughtful Catholics like Jim Pauwels are absolutely correct when they note, as Jim does yesterday on a Commonweal thread started by David Gibson, discussing whether the Catholic church today is progressive, the following:

On that matter of just treatment of homosexuals, the modern world can teach the church. That’s not a brief for homosexual marriage, just a statement that modern society seems to be heeding what the Catechism teaches about ‘no unjust discrimination’ better than the church, or at least large segments of the church.

Jim's a moderate conservative whose willingness to discuss matters rationally and respectfully impresses me.  And he's right on this point, I think.  It's spirit-crushing enough to know that your fellow Catholics can characterize you with impunity on a Catholic blog as a beast capable of mass murder, but even more spirit-daunting to know that if you try to speak for yourself and emerge as a human being out of the bestial image superimposed on you by brother and sister Catholics, you'll be told you've crossed a line that requires you to be censored.

Something about the way even "good" Catholics of the center are dealing with their gay brothers and sisters these days seems just not right.

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