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War is Peace, Equality is Discrimination

November 22nd, 2010 · 10 Comments

One of the more noxious and predictable genres of social conservative screed takes the form of whining that the only discrimination we really need to worry about is the failure to make special accommodation for the sensibilities of bigots. Perhaps the ideal form of this particular whine was served up at the American Spectator yesterday:

A Washington Post article this morning about openly gay military service inadvertently reveals the intellectual intolerance and closed-mindedness of the Left. The article also exposes the Left’s true agenda, which is to stamp out real diversity and to force everyone to submit to its “progressive” agenda. […]
In practice, this means that the rights of cultural traditionalists and religious believers will be infringed upon and, ultimately, stamped out altogether. After all, as the Washington Post explains, everyone must be forced to “accept” the new orthodoxy. Everyone must submit to the Left’s superior Rousseauian will.

This is truly bizarre. Religious believers in the armed forces are also, of course, “forced” to “accept” serving alongside Muslims, Hindus, atheists, Jews, and a whole welter of other religious denominations. At the risk of dipping my toes into unfamiliar theological waters, it was my understanding that explicitly rejecting the Holy Spirit was a kind of paramount sin, and so presumably ought to be regarded by conservative believers as a more serious offense than mere open homosexuality. Yet I don’t hear anyone complaining that the rights of Christian soldiers are being trampled just by dint of their being required to serve along Zoroastrians, or that this is somehow tantamount to being compelled to endorse someone else’s religious beliefs. Probably in any given unit, there are lots of people who openly acknowledge many different types of conduct that a conservative Christian would regard as sinful. It’s only in the case of this particular sin that being forced to fight alongside the “sinner” counts as unconscionable oppression. It’s almost as though the opposition were grounded in something other than—and uglier than—pure adherence to religious convictions.

Tags: Religion · Sexual Politics



10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 DuncanRhys // Nov 22, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    “People of Faith” are not, as they often disingenuously complain they are, asked to leave their religious believes at home and in church when they enter the public square, yet the square is public and as such their religious beliefs––beliefs that they choose––are not the final, or even the main word, but may only inform their goals; they must, as we all must, prove and convince through reason. Many people are raised in one religious tradition but select another––Glen Beck was raised Roman Catholic and switched to Mormonism and George W. Bush decided he was born again into a different church than the one he was raised in––and the public square cannot be beholden to the whims of such easily shifted systems of belief.

  • 2 boldrobot // Nov 23, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    A more appropriate biblical imperative might be James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

    Just too many cafeteria-style christians who are happy to disregard their own sins – pride, judgment of others – and refuse Christ’s call to ‘love those who hate you’ and ‘pray quietly’, in order to be a Member of the ‘in’ crowd…

    If they don’t believe and practice their own dogma, and are unwilling to hold themselves as accountable as they hold others, no one is required to pay attention to them.

  • 3 Matt D // Nov 23, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Yup. Social conservatives basically expect that government will actively discriminate in accordance with their beliefs, and any failure to do so is de facto discrimination against them.

  • 4 Robyn // Nov 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    The idea that people working for public services are “subjected” to other people as part of an “agenda,” liberal or otherwise–UGH. No, it’s called “being in public,” otherwise known as the (classical) liberal pluralist ideal. You meet the other people who exist, as soon as the government stops protecting you from them. These folks are basically illiberal in every sense of the word.

    Also: yeah, the anti-gay brigade has all kinds of non-theological stuff going on: gay people threaten their particular ideas of what “manliness” and “femininity” are–something that they have a lot of their lives invested in, and which the military has obviously been a bastion of. Existentially, gay people threaten the sense of order they’ve set up to contain their own sexualities–like their sense that sex shouldn’t be only for pleasure–and so on. It’s acculturated, but the meaning threat that gay people represent seems to them to be “natural”–they feel that their revulsion is coming straight from nature/God. They make meaning again by imposing theological justifications on the threat and insisting on excluding gay people from the political community–to ward it off.

    Maybe it IS uglier than theology, because condemnation on earth, unlike in the afterlife is, you know, immediate (or what I call “real”). It’s exclusionary tribalism, regardless of the reasons, though.

  • 5 Tom // Nov 23, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I would also note that when the right has been reduced to claiming discrimination, that the world is so unfair, and that their particular group is being treated with disrespect by a thoughtless hegemonic majority they have basically bought into the identity politics of the left. Does this mean that conservatism is changing? Or is it only rhetorical?

  • 6 Matt D // Nov 23, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I would also note that when the right has been reduced to claiming discrimination, that the world is so unfair, and that their particular group is being treated with disrespect by a thoughtless hegemonic majority they have basically bought into the identity politics of the left.

    Eh. Conservatism is by definition identity politics for the powerful. The rhetoric is more in line with what you hear from the left, but the sentiment is as it’s ever been.

  • 7 paradoctor // Nov 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Note the charge of closed-mindedness. The logic, I think, is that it’s oppressive to infringe on people’s freedom to oppress, intolerant not to tolerate intolerance, and closed-minded not to be open to mental closure.

    It’s a charming paradox, if you’re into irony, which rightist ideologues notoriously are not. Until they ‘get’ the joke that they are living, I recommend playing along. Yes, I am _very_ intolerant of intolerance. But you must forgive me, for I was brought up that way, and I can’t help being judgemental about the judgemental. For anyone to automatically condemn my automatic condemnation of automatic condemnation is itself worthy of automatic condemnation!

    I am also very rigidly close-minded on the 2+2=4 issue. Two plus two is four, not five nor three, and I get upset when people insist otherwise. I was brought up that way.

  • 8 Vern // Dec 2, 2010 at 9:42 am

    The Right today is confusing cultural change with government mandated change. Things like saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” are cultural, not ACLU-imposed legal changes. It’s very similar to those on the Left who bemoan Walmart or NASCAR, and just assume they must have some unfair advantage.

    The marketplace of ideas doesn’t seem so hot when your preferred ideals lose out. We too easily assume our preferences are losing out because someone on the “wrong” side of that market has their thumb on the scale.

  • 9 Ben // Dec 31, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Wow. Please tell me you’re not a biblically illiterate American libertarian.

    Have you even read the New Testament?
    Please do. Then rewrite your post.

    Also, on a philosophical note, whining about alleged “whiners” is circular.

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