Never underestimate the power of
Whether in the Middle East or in Middle America......
by Mark Levine
Many have reacted with surprise that millions of Ohio voters who
have been so impoverished by the Bush Presidency would vote to elect
Bush based on "moral values," having been led to the
polls by the most extreme anti-gay initiative in American history.
Ohio's Issue 1, on the same ballot as the Presidential race, passed last
Tuesday. The new law not only reiterates current Ohio law that gay
people cannot marry each other: it goes farther to deny Ohioans
the right to have private contracts with each other, if such contracts
provide gay couples health care or other job benefits. Gay couples
will no longer be allowed to will each other property, visit each
other in hospitals, provide for their children, or have any other legal
rights or contracts that would "approximate
the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage." Their
parental rights are hereby nullified. And in Ohio (and most
other states), any employer may fire gay people solely on the basis of
What is the source of this overwhelming hate of Ohioans (and voters in
10 other states) for their fellow man?
that as poor people become more impoverished and see no way out of
their condition, they rarely attack the powerful people in control.
Revolutions are tough to win. Instead they retreat to religion and
find a scapegoat who is easier to attack, often aided in this task by
the very people oppressing them.
In the Middle Ages,
European peasants mistreated by nobles rose up against Jews hired by the
nobles to collect the peasants' taxes. In the Confederacy, poor
non-slave-owning whites fought a war to allow rich plantation owners to
keep their slaves while these same slaveholders bought their way out of
military service. In Weimar Germany, poor people ruined by massive
inflation and the imposition of the punitive Versailles Treaty rose up
against the Jews before they later turned against France and England.
And in the Middle East today, poor Arabs mistreated by their rulers have
also turned against their Jews first, then Israel, and only later
Americans (the latter, at least, having some rational basis, since the
American Government has supported their ruling dictators).
In the USA, ignorant
people who see no way out of poverty are increasingly turning to
religious demagogues: for example, some Blacks follow the Nation
of Islam, hating Whites and Jews. But many White (and Black)
born-again fundamentalist Christians now focus on a new enemy:
homosexuals -- the devil in their midst (found even in their own families).
German bigots in the 1930's insisted their Jew-hatred was caused by the
actions of the Jews themselves who demanded equality in the 1800's Enlightenment.
How dare the Jews seek equal rights to participate in Germany society
and try to enter professions reserved for Germans!
American bigots in the 1960's insisted their racism was caused by
the actions of Blacks themselves (and outside agitators). How dare
Blacks seek equal rights to vote and go to public places! They
have access to their own decrepit buses and movie theaters and
schools. Why do they have to be in our
buses and movie theaters and schools?
Today homophobic bigots insist their anti-gay animus is caused by the
actions of gay people themselves. How dare gay people seek equal
rights to marry, raise children, have equal access to jobs and health
care, and have a private life free from arrest by the state! Don't
they realize that God hates them? Don't they realize God demands
they be second-class American citizens?
Perhaps John Kerry
should have taken Bill Clinton's advice to openly support the 11 anti-gay
state initiatives. It is virtually certain that if Kerry had
followed Clinton's Machiavellian advice, Kerry would have been elected President.
It wouldn't have been so hard for Kerry -- who is on record opposing gay
marriage -- to support these initiatives. The problem was, as
Kerry knew, these initiatives did far more than ban marriage:
they legally consigned gay couples to permanent second-class
citizenship and are quite literally a violation of the Constitution's
assurance to Americans of "equal protection under the laws."
All Kerry had to do was abandon his values and his belief in equal
rights for the gay community to get elected: a relatively minor
flip-flop that few straight Americans would have noticed.
(A side note.
Please don't get me wrong. I don't think Clinton is anti-gay in
the least. I do not believe Clinton wanted to approve the Defense
of Marriage Act or the Republican plan to fire openly gay citizens
serving in the military. But Clinton signed these laws because he
had a keen eye for American politics. Clinton knew that you
cannot hold a nationally-elected office in America without some limited
amount of gay bashing.)
Is it to John
Kerry's credit that he stood firm against Clinton's advice? Should
Kerry have pretended to sacrifice his moral values in "liberty and
justice for all" in order to be President? Maybe so.
Maybe opposing equal rights for gay people is the
only way to get elected in red-state America today. Just as
opposing equal rights for Blacks was necessary to be elected in the
South. President Lyndon Johnson said, when he signed the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, that he was losing the South for Democrats for
generations to come. Johnson was right. And so was Clinton.
And so was Kerry.
Levine, a former Congressional attorney, hosts a radio talk show in
Washington DC and on the Internet at www.RadioInsideScoop.com
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