Pod people: Has the gay movement peaked?

In a speech delivered at the Mansion House in London on 10 Nov 1942, Winston Churchill predicted the British victory at the battle of El Alamein would mark the turn of the tide of Germany’s fortunes. The hitherto unstoppable Wehrmacht had been defeated, and the historical inevitability of a German victory was gone. But, he added:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

I was reminded of Churchill’s words while reading an article by Paul Gottfried in the current issue of the Salisbury Review. In an article entitled “Cooling Off on Gay Marriage,” Gottfried argued the social left had reached its zenith with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. The urgency of the campaign to legalize gay marriage was animated by a desire to seize the moment.

Rather there is awareness that the present campaign to mainstream and even glorify gay marriage cannot be sustained forever. It may be reaching its limits in being able to convert people to a bizarre idea, no matter how much money and expensive propaganda have been thrown at it.

He argues support for gay marriage is “far shakier than the media would allow us to believe”, citing tight poll numbers and the spate of electoral defeats for gay marriage in all but the most politically liberal states. The campaign for gay marriage was anti-populist, driven by elites seeking to shape the culture. Public acceptance remained mixed, even in the face of a concerted political/social campaign to bring about its acceptance.

This does not even factor in the new, edifying TV shows featuring loving gay couples and quarrelsome heterosexual ones, the movies showing similar epiphanies, glaringly biased news coverage, and the steady work of our public educational institutions in getting the kids to celebrate gayness and same sex marriage.

He concludes:

The power establishment has moved too far too fast on the issue of gay marriage; and it may not be able to keep up the pace of its efforts to erode traditional and until recently the only concept of marriage, as a heterosexual union.

This is an interesting argument, to say the least — and one I have not heard bandied about in the popular media. Time will tell if Gottfried is right, but I believe there are stirrings in the culture that may foreshadow a Thermidorian reaction against the excesses of the social left. In this week’s edition of Crossroads, Issues, Etc.. host Todd Wilkens and I discussed my recent story at GetReligion on the defenestration of James Tengatenga.

Tengatenga — a liberal Anglican bishop from Malawi — had been hired as dean for moral and spiritual life at Dartmouth. Shortly after his appointment was announced, gay activists began opposition research on the bishop, treating him as if he were Robert Bork and they aides to Teddy Kennedy. They unearthed a number of stories I wrote about Tengatenga in The Church of England Newspaper where he endorsed the church’s traditional view on gay sex — e.g., that it was a sin — and also found statements he made questioning the appointment of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. (Robinson was the first “gay” bishop.)

They also found stories I had written about Tengatenga’s role as an advocate for Malawi’s gays, whom the government would scapegoat from time to time when it needed a villain to explain failed state policies. Like the Tsars and the Jews, an old fashioned pogrom against gays in Central Africa helps let off steam. However, these pieces did not carry the emotional impact of Tengatenga’s support for traditional Christian moral teachings. Even when Tengatenga announced he had switched sides and now supported “marriage equality” this was not enough for his critics who charged the bishop was not a true believer in the gay cause, but an opportunistic convert. Dartmouth College’s president buckled under the pressure and canned Tengatenga for being too controversial.

In my reporting on this story for the church press I spoke with one member of the search committee who believed the revolution was now consuming its own. Rather than welcome a convert to their cause, the academic left treated Tengatenga as a deviationist who must be purged for the good of Dartmouth. The old Popular Front “no enemies on the left” mantra was now more.

The idea of the left taking care of their own calls to mind the Republican friendly fire of the Spanish Civil War. In this case, the left refused even to recognize him as one of their own.  He unwittingly and in circumstances scarcely imaginable here violated their language code; their own moral pride compelled them to relegate him to the status of outcast, unfit to exercise moral leadership in our community. I don’t think my perception is entirely distorted when I notice a Leninist streak in the American liberal arts left.

When the revolution turns on its own — be it the Terror of the French Revolution, the Stalinist purges, Mao’s Cultural Revolution — the initial ideological phase comes to an end. Whether Tengatenga’s purge makes the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end, I know not — but it does mark a shift in attitudes, and journalists will need to heed that shift.

I am not sure if Gottfried is correct — though I find his arguments entertaining. But the Tengatenga affair — an incident of interest to the small community of Dartmouth College and Anglican church watchers — may be a sign that the peak has been reached and the tide will soon go out.

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  • RayIngles

    I’d be a lot more impressed with Gottfried’s article if he compared and contrasted the ‘gay rights’ movement with a couple other historic shifts in attitude – like the Civil Rights movement of the 1960′s or the reduction in anti-Semitism over the same period.

  • Darren Blair

    “Rather than welcome a convert to their cause, the academic left treated
    Tengatenga as a deviationist who must be purged for the good of
    Dartmouth.”

    This reminded me of an incident that occurred some time back.

    Shortly after it was announced that Archie Comics would introduce an openly homosexual character into the franchise, I was involved in an online discussion with several other comic book fans about the matter.

    I expressed a degree of concern over the matter, as far too many comic writers have a bad habit of making one-note characters who exist simply so that said writers can say “See how progressive I am? I created a _____ character!” Instead, I posited, it would perhaps be for the best if the writers developed the character out first and then made mention of his being homosexual; not only would this make for a stronger character, it would also make the character far less stereotypical and so better accomplish any goals the writer might have of making homosexuality appear closer to a social norm.*

    In response, another poster – one who was openly homosexual – got rather upset with me. He accused me of wanting the writers to, in essence, hide the fact that the character was homosexual. In his eyes, if the character did not hit every last stereotype associated with male homosexuals, then the character was not truly homosexual and could only somehow hurt public sentiment. He even refused to accept the fact that there are real-life homosexuals who regard their sexual preference as being a single aspect of who they are (such as Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford, who prefers people see him as a pioneering musician rather than anything else), and tried to argue that they themselves are trying to hide who they really are.

    So no, the mentality at Dartmouth isn’t all that surprising; it’s simply a very public manifestation of a mentality that has seemingly been around among individual members of the homosexual rights movement for a while now.

    *Perhaps the best example I’ve seen of a well-rounded homosexual character in fiction is Kaorin from the manga series “Azumanga Daioh”. Although she has an open crush on one of her classmates, her crush is revealed after we learn about her as a person: she’s an A/B student, she’s a member of the campus astronomy club, she has at least one cat, and she’s implied to be reasonably competent at photography.

  • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

    This posting reminds me of the fate of the Equal Rights Amendment feminists desperately wanted. It was supposed to be unstoppable–a sure thing-a real winner. All the media was for it. All the liberal elites promoted it. But by 1982 (the deadline for passage) Americans had caught on to how radically the ERA could be misinterpreted by a liberal Supreme Court So in the end this sure winner went down to defeat . And who led the fight against the ERA–a lone (at first) woman by the name of Phyllis Schafly.

    • Julia B

      Who, not too long ago, was severely dissed when honored at graduation ceremonies by her alma mater Washington University in St Louis. She had put herself through the WU law school by working in an armament factory during WWII. Some profs and students stood and turned their backs on her while she received her award and spoke.

      http://chronicle.com/article/at-washington-u-protesters/40987

      • Donalbain

        You have to admire a woman who has a career travelling around the country telling women that they should stay at home and raise their children!

        • Julia B

          I think it was more like women should be able to do that.

  • kyleyoder

    The last thing anyone wants is to end the fight for anything. More is never enough. The civil rights movement for minorities is a multibillion dollar a year industry. Too much is as stake to “peak”.


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