Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fred Phelps is a Mainstream Conservative

You might recognize the name Fred Phelps as the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, the small, but virulently anti-gay congregation in Kansas which shows up at military funerals with vile placards reading "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for AIDS."  It's very easy for anyone, progressive or conservative, to point to him and his followers as an example of "fringe" thinking on the right.

But one read of this post from John Guardino, lamenting the right-wing's failure to defend Don't Ask Don't Tell, which ended for good on Tuesday, and you can see that Phelps' church expresses what most Christianist conservatives wish they had the courage to express.  Money quote:
I am not optimistic that conservatives and traditionalists can prevail against the awesome political and cultural power of the gay lobby. Our political challenge lies in distinguishing between tolerance and acceptance on the one hand, and affirmation and approval on the other hand.  In our rights-based political culture, that's not an easy distinction to make.  And it's especially difficult to make that distinction when you are afraid to explain why anyone has legitimate reason -- rooted in morality, aesthetics, and public health -- not to put homosexuality on a legal and social par with heterosexuality. Yet, that is something which conservatives seem unwilling or unable to do. Consequently, they (we) are losing big time politically.

My emphasis.  It's that section which gives the whole movement away.  Christianist conservatives truly believe that gay men and women do not deserve legal and/or social equality anywhere on the planet.  Witness the efforts of some American Christianist individuals and organizations who are quietly working with the powers that be in Uganda to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death.

I'm not pretending to be surprised.  I'm just pointing out that, in this upcoming election, the choices are going to be extremely clear.  You can vote for an incumbent who actually undid 18 years of institutionalized discrimination, carefully and pragmatically and with the help of the US military's senior leadership; or you can vote for a candidate who wants to reinstitute that discrimination, tear apart families, stigmatize, criminalize, and deny all equality to a large segment of our population.  Yes, I know: it's the economy, it's jobs, it's debt, it's spending, it's taxes.  But ask yourself: are you willing to ignore the largest civil rights issue of our era over money?  If you don't have a problem with gay marriage or gays adopting children, or gays openly serving in the military, then why would you vote for a candidate who would, if he had the courage, step up to a microphone and tell the world that gays are a vile, evil, and immoral threat to the public health of this country?  Are taxes more important than the rights of your fellow human beings?  If you truly would rather save on your taxes than defend the humanity of your fellow citizens, have the decency to step up and say so, the way Fred Phelps does.

No comments: