Thursday, December 07, 2017

Reclaiming the initiative in the culture wars

I'm going to comment on an article by Ryan Anderson:

Ryan makes a number of good points along the way, but he also has some missteps: 

But do we really want to live in a country where acting on a belief about marriage that people have held throughout all of recorded history — that it’s a union of male and female — is treated as the functional and legal equivalent of racism?

i) Yes, that's exactly what secular progressives want. Many Democrats fervently believe that. So we need to address the invidious comparison head-on. 

This doesn't mean that refuting the fallacious analogy will convince committed radicals. However, many Americans are soft on this issue. They are persuadable in either direction. They've never heard the conservative side of the argument. 

ii) In addition, the argument has to be better than an appeal to tradition. Falling back on "a belief about marriage that people have held throughout all of recorded history" is a weak argument. "We've always done it that way" isn't very convincing to the younger generation. That just invites the retort, "And that's the problem!" After all, slavery used to be a cultural universal (or nearly so). There are much better arguments than bare appeals to tradition.

Opposition to interracial marriage developed as one aspect of a larger system of racism and white supremacy, as part of an effort to hold a race of people in a condition of economic and political inferiority and servitude. It was based on the idea that contact with African Americans on an equal plane is wrong. That idea, and its premise of the supposed inferiority of African Americans, is the essence of bigotry. Bakers who declined to bake cakes for interracial weddings also declined to treat African Americans equally in a host of circumstances. Racists did not simply object to interracial marriage; they objected to contact with African Americans on an equal footing.

I think that's largely correct, but two caveats:

i) Opposition to interracial marriage wasn't necessarily premised on the inferiority of black Americans. It's gullible to take white supremacist rhetoric at face value. Although some white supremacists may have felt that way, the motivation for Jim Crow laws could be far more cynical than the official rationale. It's about the balance of power and loss of power. The ruling class can admit, in private, that they don't think they are innately superior to the underclass, but cling to their hegemony for selfish reasons. They don't wish to sacrifice their dominant position. 

ii) More to the point, Ryan's argument is too convoluted. Basically, he's trying to argue on the merits. And there's a place for that. One thing Christian pundits definitely need to do more of is to argue on the merits.

iii) However, that's a diversion. This is not first and foremost a question of right and wrong. It's not a question of whether Christians, Orthodox Jews, libertarians et al. deserve to have Constitutional rights. 

Constitutional rights aren't selectively conferred based on your goodness or purity of motives. It's a serious strategic blunder to shift the issue from the fact that citizens have First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights to whether Christians, Orthodox Jews, libertarians et al. are worthy in the eyes of the court or public opinion. 

Truth is, even bigots have Constitutional rights. That's the point. That's a given. That's why we have the Bill of Rights in the first place. We should be arguing from that presupposition, and not towards it. 

Sparing people such as Phillips from the sword does not undermine the valid purposes of anti-discrimination law — eliminating the public effects of anti-gay bigotry — because support for conjugal marriage isn’t anti-gay. Protecting freedom here sends no message about the supposed inferiority of those identifying as gay; it sends no message about sexual orientation at all. 

i) Once again, that's a self-defeating strategy. It puts citizens like Phillips on the defensive–as if they must obsequiously ask permission to exercise their Constitutional rights. But that has it backwards. Phillips is automatically entitled to Constitutionally protected civil liberties like freedom of speech, religion, and association. That's where the argument needs to be engaged. 

This isn't a matter of granting Phillips an exemption, at the discretion and indulgence of the court. Rather, secular progressives want to take away our Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights. 

At this cycle in the culture wars, that may be an uphill battle, but that's where the battle must be met. And while it may be an uphill battle, the left had to fight many uphill battles to achieve its current position. 

To robustly and unapologetically defend the Bill of Rights is more likely to succeed than Ryan's retreatist, defeatist alternative, because it's a far more inspiring cause, with a greater payback. Is the Benedict Option a hill to die on? 

ii) LGBT Americans have the same Constitutional rights as other Americans, viz. freedom of speech, religion, association, the right to bear arm, immunity from self-incrimination.

iii) They don't fictitious Constitutional rights, viz. a Constitution right to homosexual marriage.

iv) And they don't have statutory rights that overrule Constitutional rights. A state, municipality, regulatory agency, human rights commission, or Federal court doesn't have the authority to make LGBT people a protected class with special rights that supersede the Bill of Rights. 

v) I don't know what Ryan means by "anti-gay bigotry". He's a Catholic conservative. According to the current position of his own denomination:

2357 Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

vi) How is it a valid purpose of anti-discrimination law to eliminate the public effects of so-called anti-gay bigotry? Consider what an open-ended agenda that is. To eliminate the public effects of alleged anti-gay bigotry? Where does that putative ripple effect end? Who determines when the public effects of "anti-gay bigotry" have run their course?

vii) In addition, the LGBT "community" c. 2018 is far from a victim class. Indeed, as this very case demonstrates, as well as like cases, the LGBT lobby can't be trusted with power. They abuse power. They use political power to suppress dissent. 

Culture warriors need to be far more aggressive about reframing the argument. To take another example, consider how the LGBT "community" fosters a predatory culture towards minors. For instance:

According to the John Jay report, "The largest group of alleged victims (50.9%) was between the ages of 11 and 14, 27.3% were 15-17, 16% were 8-10 and nearly 6% were under age 7. Overall, 81% of victims were male."

When the male to male ratio between the perp and the victim is 8-1, that's a specifically homosexual correlation. And you can't chalk it up to the fact that the Catholic priesthood is male. One out of eight men in general aren't homosexual. More like about 99% of men in general are straight. 

Far from needing anti-discrimination laws to protect homosexuals, we need laws to protect minors from homosexuals in positions of power over minors. 

No comments:

Post a Comment