Tuesday, April 10, 2012

News: Homophobia and Repressed Homosexuality, William F. Buckley and Racism, and Adrienne Rich on Living Split

As David Edwards reports at Raw Story, a new study by a research team at the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara finds that it's themselves about whom strong homophobes are most concerned.  The researchers find that "homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires."

And as John Walsh notes at Salon, though the American conservative movement (and their centrist collaborators) have sought to whitewash the legacy of William F. Buckley and to turn Buckley into a benign, moderate conservative grandfather figure, it was Buckley who inscribed racism in the neoconservative movement in the latter part of the 20th century.  And so it is no accident that John Derbyshire, who recently published an incredibly offensive racist screed for the National Review (and was fired for doing so), was writing for a publication founded by Buckley.

Buckley is the grandfather of the ugly, vituperative racist discourse that now runs everywhere through the discourse of other American Catholics of the political and religious right, who imagine that there is no crime anywhere that does not have a black face.  While those committing the most serious crimes of all in our society--the 1% who rob all of us blind, creating the conditions for petty crime in economically marginalized communities--never receive any attention at all among these same right-wing Catholics  spouting racist discourse.

At Religion Dispatches, Ryan Harper notes the continuing fascination of scholars and readers with that dominant theme of Adrienne Rich's thought on which I commented several days ago--the difficulty of living split--and attributes her concern with the theme to her own "border" life.  As he notes, Rich was born almost astraddle the Mason-Dixon line, the daughter of a Jewish father and a Gentile mother.  She was, as she herself wrote in her essay "Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity" a "Jewish lesbian raised to be a heterosexual gentile."

And so Rich knew in her bones, from her formative experiences, that what we gain spiritually, what we hold onto religiously, must be gained and grasped by wrestling.  Spiritual or religious experience worth having does not come easy, but at the cost of struggle.  

It comes at the cost of wrestling with G-d, whose name should never be uttered lightly.

The graphic is Howard Pyle's "In the Reading Room," published as an illustration for Harper's Monthly in May 1890.

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