Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Leonard Pitts, Jr. rocks my world!

Leonard Pitts, Jr. is easily my favorite syndicated columnist. More often than not, he really nails issues. Case in point, today's editorial about the ugliness of anit-gay bias. It discusses the current climate against GLBT people in the U.S. in context of the anti-Jewish climate in Nazi Germany in the 30s and 40s. Pitts shrinks from calling this "the Gay Holocaust," and rightly so.

The Holocaust is an atrocity unique in history, and I'm wary of appending modifiers: the "this" holocaust or the "that" holocaust. There's a reason the word takes a capital "H."

And yet, he notes that similarities to the scapegoating then and now are disturbing.

I always considered that the signature lesson of the Holocaust. I always felt that in the largest sense, it was not about Jews and Aryans but about humanity and inhumanity. The Holocaust was, after all, only hatred carried to its logical extreme, the predictable outcome of an environment in which we countenance taking rights from "them," heaping scorn on "them," making scapegoats of "them."

And who can deny that this describes the plight of gay Americans in 2005? Or that demagogic lawmakers are using this environment to further their own ambitions?

Actually, plenty of people deny it. "Love the sinner, hate the sin." But if we really love the sinner, we won't push for laws that hurt him or her. We won't want to see civil rights eroded and families torn apart just because "their" family is different from "ours." Pitts cites a bill under consideration in Alabama that would ban books with gay characters from public libraries. If we hide "them" from our sight, then we don't have to deal with our own discomfort. There's that denial. So much easier than tackling our discomfort head on and recognizing that, hey, maybe our discomfort is our problem, not "theirs."

Ours is a stable and prosperous democracy, so no, I don't predict train cars full of gays rolling toward death factories. Still, the mind-set of aggrieved righteousness that allowed those trains to roll is not dissimilar from that which would ban gay people from public-school libraries.

That's the problem right there. Dig beyond the horrors of the Holocaust itself into the prejudice behind it and there are similarities. The question is, do we take an honest look at it now or do we keep up the denial and allow things to get worse until the comparison maybe isn't so unthinkable anymore?


At 12:14 PM, Blogger the-unintentional-blogger said...

Leonard's last comment in the article illustrates what annoys me about the whole anti-gay argument.

Nobody is interning gays, nobody mass-murdering them. You're right. But ask yourself: How many would if they could?

Nearly all of my circle of friends is thinks homosexuality is a sin and is against laws promoting it, yet NOT ONE of them would even THINK of doing something like Pitts suggests. To lump rational people who oppose homosexuality with extremists who want to do homosexuals harm is trashy at best. But this is how the argument often gets framed: Either you're for gay marriage or you're homophobic. I am NEITHER of those things, and either are my friends. We're in the 3rd group: We're against gay marriage because we believe it's WRONG, not out of any sense of hatred. It's shameful that that viewpoint is so often underrepresented.

"love the sinner, hate the sin" was mentioned. And yes, I believe you can love the sinner and stand for laws that will not promote a greater acceptance of that sin. There is no inconsistency there.

Are there extremists out there who are anti-gay? Sure. But there are extremists who are anti-jewish, anti-christian, anti-black, anti-white, et. al. And unfortunately, there always will be. I believe for most people, it's an issue of morality, not an issue of hate. Let's debate it on THAT front instead of making it appear like there is widespread hatred of homosexuals.

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

The thing is, your average German citizen circa 1936 would fall into that 3rd group, too.

Yes, I intentionally use hyperbole to illustrate the point. Like Pitts, I don't think we're headed for that kind of horror. I do, however, think that many people who support some of these laws, particularly the "marrige plus" amendments like the one coming to AZ in 2006, simply don't understand how far reaching they will be. If they do truly understand, then I simply can't see how they can be said to "love the sinner."

Do you want to prevent people from having a say in their loved one's hospital care?

Do you want to see homes that couples have shared for years taken away from one person on the death of the other?

Do you want to see people barred by vindictive family members from attending their loved one's funeral?

Do you want to see children ripped away from a parent because their other parent has died?

Do you want to see health benefits taking away from people?

That's what these laws do. Hell, in some states they're so far reaching they invalidate domestic violence laws for anyone who isn't married. There are all sorts of consequences of these "marriage plus" amendments that are truly horrific. Period. I don't care how wrong same-sex relationships may or may not be, there is no way they can be this wrong. Anyone who can answer "yes" to these questions is by definition not "loving the sinner." Destroying lives is never loving. Ever.

I think most people in that 3rd group to which you belong truly don't understand the havoc these laws wreak on people's lives. Be against gay marriage, fine, but don't support laws that inflict this kind of damage. Don't use a religious concept, sin, to determine civil law. Because some day someone else will decide something important to you is a sin and pass laws against that. Is that really how we want our government to work?

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

I just deleted a comment posted here. I will not tolerate bashing in my blog. I welcome and encourage responses from all sides of any argument, but only if they are respectful. Bash someone, even someone who is disagreeing with my post, and I will delete your comment. Lack of respect won't change anyone's heart or mind.


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