Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Huckabee. Huckabee. Huckabee. Gay. Gay. Gay. (And Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp.)

Well, former Arkansas governor, current GOP presidential contender, and Southern Baptist minister Mike Huckabee surely got press coverage this weekend, didn't he? Here's commentary about his shenanigans that has caught my eye — Caitlin McNeal summarizes the story for TPM:

At Arkansas Times, Max Brantley maintains that, as Huckabee kicks the gays around, he knows exactly what he's doing politically — he's pandering to the base and its base instincts:

The Huckster's comparing being gay to drinking or liking ballet has been getting a rough ride all over the web. But you know what they say: There's no such thing as bad publicity. Certainly not in the anti-gay churches that carry such influence over Iowa Republican caucuses. We can recoil, snigger or simply slap our foreheads and say "there he goes again." But Huckabee knows exactly what he's doing. That's what makes it truly reprehensible, saying awful things knowing it will appeal to base instincts.

And so we underestimate Huckabee and his ilk to our own peril, given the influence of such "base" thinking among a powerful substratum of American voters who are the solid base of one of our two political parties, and the folks most highly motivated to go to the polls and vote, particularly in "off" years like 2014. Due to their influence, we now have state legislatures dominated by folks who want to torpedo the Affordable Care Act, put guns in schools (while keeping their own legislative buildings free of guns, since legislators themselves cannot be placed at risk), and pass laws inviting faith-based discrimination against LGBT citizens.

For the life of me, I cannot understand the superciliousness of "liberals" who imagine that the kind of thinking represented by Huckabee has effects only on the unenlightened places — the Bubbavilles — in which they themselves don't live. Folks like those represented in this recent Commonweal thread . . . . Who think they can laugh at and dismiss bubbas like Huckabee because the harm his views do is done to someone else, and not to enlightened, privileged folks like themselves . . . .

Such fatuous, parochial, tribalistic, Lowells-talk-only-to-Cabots blindness.

At Huffington Post, Steve Sanders explains precisely why we should be concerned about Huckabee's silly analogy between kosher delis (forcing people not to discriminate against gays is like forcing observant Jews to sell bacon-wrapped shrimp) and laws permitting discrimination against gay folks on the basis of religious prejudice:

Because discrimination based on characteristics that have nothing to do with a person’s character or abilities (other traits widely protected in law are race, ethnicity, gender, and religion) are corrosive to civic equality and democratic citizenship.  Again, this is a different problem from Huckabee’s non-sequitur example.  No clear-thinking person believes that the menus of Jewish delis have any significant implications for the health of our social fabric.  
When we tolerate business owners who set themselves up in the public marketplace and then selectively refuse service to certain people (blacks, Jews, gay people, etc.) for no reason other than political, cultural or religious dislike, it makes all of us complicit in a form of social devaluation toward such persons, as law professor Andrew Koppelman has persuasively argued.

At Slate, Nathaniel Frank explains why it's important to say all over again that Huckabee is simply wrong in his claims about religious liberty and marriage equality: 

Huckabee's analogy would only apply if Jews tried to block everyone else from eating non-kosher food. His analogy is equally flawed when it comes to his related claim that Christians should have the right to refuse service to people who don’t share their beliefs. Observant Jews don’t refuse to serve non-Jews; they simply don’t serve non-kosher food in their businesses. Anyone can buy what they serve. And accepting the right of gays to wed is not like asking a Muslim to serve something barred by Islam or to let a dog on his private property. It’s like asking a Muslim to let customers of all faiths (or none at all) into his shop and to accept the right of others to have dogs as pets. No one is forcing anyone to get gay-married, just as, in the "gay cake wars," no one is forcing anti-gay bakers to make a cake that says "Congratulations on your gay wedding"—they are simply asking them to sell the cakes they already make to anyone who wants to buy them.

As Ed Kennedy says yesterday at the Backlot, when a bland magazine like TV Guide, which calls Huckabee's remarks this weekend "cringe-worthy," you know you've lost the country. There's truth to that observation, but I'm not ready yet to write off the hucksters who, as Max Brantley observes, know perfectly well what they're doing in pandering to the base instincts of the base that forms the foundation of the political party whose agenda they're promoting. 

And that base now controls Congress and many more statehouses and governors' mansions than it did before October 2014.

P.S. The Huckabee part of Jon Stewart's commentary begins around the 2.50 mark.

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