You can’t deny people their rights and be nice about it

The Theological Is Personal,” Dianna Anderson writes.

She’s talking here specifically about the perennial controversy over how much equality women are to be allowed in the church, but her comments apply just as much to the “debate” over how much equality LGBT people are to be allowed in the church, and to the “debates” about how much equality both women and LGBT people are to be allowed in society as a whole:

Here’s the thing we need to always remember in the discussion of complementarian theology: women cannot not take such a discussion personally. It affects everything about how we are to behave, how we see ourselves, how we interact in our relationships, how we manage our careers, our children, and our lives. Even for single women, I have to continue to fight the perception that I am “outside of God’s will” by delaying marriage and children, perhaps refusing them altogether. If complementarians are right, my world falls apart.

How can I not take that personally?

And this is what is so often missing in the discussion of these competing theologies: the human factor.

For men, it’s very easy to forget that this complementarian theology affects women much more so than it does them. …

For me, the discussion can never be abstract. The potential for abuse is far too real and far too ripe for me to see the debate as a mere “fun discussion between friends.”

Because for me, it’s not just for funsies. It never will be. It is too real, and too personal for me to discuss it “for fun.”

Mercedes Ruehl earned a well-deserved Academy Award for her work in The Fisher King.

"You don't get to be nice."

One of her best scenes in that movie was the scene where Jeff Bridges’ character, Jack, tells her he’s leaving. She breaks down, sobbing, and he starts to comfort her. Then she pulls herself away from him.

“No!” she says. “You don’t get to be nice! I’m not gonna play some stupid game with you so you can walk out that door feeling good about yourself. …”

She’s right. He doesn’t get to be “nice,” or to pretend he’s not the bad guy so that he can feel good about himself. What he’s doing shouldn’t allow him to feel good about himself. What he’s doing makes him the bad guy.

I thought of Ruehl’s performance, and of Dianna’s post, when I read this self-serving attempt to be the “nice” bigot by Halee Gray Scott at Christianity Today’s her•meneutics blog, “I Am Not Charles Worley: The Plea of a Christian Who Opposes Gay Marriage.”

Scott wants you to understand that she’s not at all like the infamous homophobic preacher Worley. She’s totally different.

Worley wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality because he hates them. Scott wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality for other reasons.

See? See how very different they are? Same result. Same vote. Same fundamental discrimination enshrined in law. But Worley is mean. Scott is nice.

And Scott has had it up to here with people not recognizing the extreme importance of that distinction:

I am not Charles Worley, and I’m tired of others, especially fellow Christians, assuming that because I’m opposed to gay marriage that I’m hateful like him. It’s time to extend a hermeneutic of grace to each other — especially to fellow Christians who still do not favor gay marriage and believe that homosexuality is not God’s intent for human sexuality. …

Scott shares Worley’s hateful goals, but not his hateful sentiments, so how dare anyone compare them?

Note also that Scott hasn’t quite thought through what she’s arguing here. She says she opposes the civil right of same-sex marriage because her religious beliefs teach that “Homosexuality is not God’s intent for human sexuality.”

OK. But Scott doesn’t believe that, for example, Mormonism is “God’s intent for human spirituality,” and yet she’s not arguing that Mormonism should be illegal. So why is homosexuality different?

Scott can’t say. She seems not to have thought about it. But you mustn’t assume it’s because she’s some kind of hater. That sort of assumption — lumping her in with people like Charles Worley just because she wants the same legal outcome as they do — is hurtful. It wounds her feelings. Being compared to people like that is not nice.

And people should be nice to her, just as she’s being so nice to all the LGBT citizens whose legal equality she wants to nicely deny.

“I’m not asking for anyone to approve or accept my views,” Scott writes, magnanimously.

And it’s true. She doesn’t want anyone else to approve or accept her religious perspective. All she asks is that they allow her to write it into law.

Really, is that so much to ask?

I’m not asking for anyone to approve or accept my views, but I am asking for Christians to be kind to one another, no matter which side they’re on. In particular, I am asking Christians who support legalizing gay marriage to not assume fellow Christians like me are hateful, bigoted, backwards, or just plain mean because we oppose legalizing gay marriage.

Can’t we just agree to disagree respectfully? It seems churlish of me not to agree to this.

After all, Scott is willing to treat me nicely and to respect my right to believe that she should stop beating that old woman with a crowbar. So shouldn’t I reciprocate by treating her nicely and respecting her right to continue doing so?

That’s only fair. Or at least, it’s perfectly fair in Scott’s little world — a world in which the old woman being beaten doesn’t even register as a participant in the discussion. She’s invisible and unimportant. She doesn’t count.

Here, again, is Scott, in her own words:

I’m not asking for anyone to approve or accept my views, but I am asking for Christians to be kind to one another, no matter which side they’re on. In particular, I am asking Christians who support legalizing gay marriage to not assume fellow Christians like me are hateful, bigoted, backwards, or just plain mean because we oppose legalizing gay marriage.

The truth is, most of those who share my view are not like Pastor Worley, and most of those who support gay marriage aren’t in favor of some drunken Woodstock free-for-all. Most of us are in the silent middle, and each believes that our view is loving, but the truth is that none of us are loving if we continue to browbeat people who don’t agree with us.

… With the long election season looming ahead, can’t Christians assume the best about one another, no matter how differently we see things?

She can conceive of two and only two sides, and neither of those sides includes the actual human beings whose legal equality — whose lives and loves — are at stake here.

Look, here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a nice person. And it doesn’t matter if your tone, attitude, sentiments and facial expressions are all very sweet, kindly and sympathetic-seeming. If you’re opposing legal equality, then you don’t get to be nice. Opposing legal equality is not nice and it cannot be done nicely.

Nice is different than good, but opposing legal equality for others is neither. It’s simply unfair.

So be fair.

It’s probably best to be fair and also kind, but fairness is the important part. As long as you’re fair, no one else will really care whether or not you’re particularly kindly about it. But if you’re not fair, then kindness isn’t even a possibility.

It’d be terrific if Scott’s heartfelt plea for “a hermeneutic of grace” toward Christians who oppose legal equality had also thought to include such a presumption of grace toward the human beings whose legal equality those Christians continue to deny.

But you know what? Forget about all that. Forget about grace and graciousness. Forget about niceness. Forget about kindness, civility and charity.

It’d be great if those could come along later, but they’ll have to wait. None of those matters a bit right now because none of those is what’s missing right now.

What’s missing right now is the bare minimum, the essential first-step starting point of simple legal equality — simple human equality. I don’t care if Scott grants it churlishly, spitefully or reluctantly, but until she grants that then all her talk of graciousness, kindness and civility is empty talk and clanging cymbals.

Scott wants to carve out a space in which she can be unfair, but still kind. Such a space does not exist and cannot exist.

Halee Gray Scott is unfair. And thus she is also unkind.

 

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  • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

    “Don’t tar me with that brush, even though I agree with the color that brush paints on the canvas!”

    Muddled. That’s the nicest adjective I can think of to describe her thinking.

  • Cradicus

    It always seems to come back to “I’m a Christian, unless you’re Gay” doesn’t it?

  • JonathanPelikan

    Absolutely brilliant, Fred. We all have different last straws and opinions about the relative value of X and Y but almost everyone would agree ‘peace at any cost is unacceptable’. If you’re on the side of ‘take my human rights away’, there won’t ever be peace.

    See also for civility, bipartisanship, etc; peace is definitely something Good that we should all want to be realized, but it’s not the most absolutely best thing ever that takes precedence over deeper matters such as the need for justice and the need for truth.

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

    Its as Mr. (gay) Sondheim said: Nice is different than good.

    Isn’t nice to know a lot… and a little bit not. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    especially to fellow Christians who still do not favor gay marriage and
    believe that homosexuality is not God’s intent for human sexuality. …

    In short, she still wants to feel ~special~. To feel like there’s something she can have that other people can’t, because they’re not the ~right kind of person~.

    (>_<) Not happy with that!

  • hapax

    Reading that made me feel physically ill.  Mostly because *I* could have written that, thirty years ago.

    As such, I know exactly what game she is playing.  It’s the old “You won’t tolerate my intolerance!” trick, dressed up in “Christian” language.

    The part that made me feel most sick was her  syrupy victimization of her “baby cousin Brian.”  She loooooves Brian, so vewwy vewwy much, you see, and it makes her SO SAD that the mean boys torment him for being gay.

    Why can’t they be “nice” like her, and tell him how valuable and special and loooooooved he is — except that he isn’t fully human.  Not like Scott.  But her sweet loving conviction that he’s “going down the wrong street” (the one that takes the left turn straight to BurningFiresOfHellsville, one assumes), and her desire to see that belief enshrined as the law of the land, couldn’t possibly have any connection to the hateful bullies who abuse him, nosirreebob.

    No, they’re just meanies and haters, like those who call her a bigot.

    I do hope that Cousin Brian cuts this woman out of his life completely.  Pastor Worley may be a hate-soaked sack of pus, but at least he’s honest about what he thinks.  Cousin Halee is the kind of poisonous canker who drives the shocking suicide rate among QUILTBAG teens.

  • http://scyllacat.livejournal.com Scylla Kat

     i know.  i never could make the anti-gay thing make sense.  when i believed (as i was told i should), that gay people were going to hell (if they actually had homosexual sex, that is–we were moderate, you see), i was terrified for gay people, for them (and also me, for other reasons) dying and going to hell.  i didn’t need to explain it to them–i lived in mortified sympathy with the struggle they must face, knowing that their burden (to be a christian and not go to hell!) was to face life without a lover as their spouse. i was still a long way from saying, you know, maybe there’s not a god, and if there was, she wouldn’t say that… but in the end, it was easier to think that than to face an arbitrary hell for being who you are.  so i guess this is my version of, “ok, i’ll go to hell!”

  • malpollyon

    Reading that made me feel physically ill.  Mostly because *I* could have written that, thirty years ago.

    If you don’t mind my asking, what changed your mind between then and now?

  • hapax

     

    If you don’t mind my asking, what changed your mind between then and now?

    I made a number of QUILTBAG friends, who had the grace to pull me aside and say, “Look, this is what you’re REALLY saying.”

    And who forgave me when I said, “Crap, you’re right.  Stop me if I get stupid again.”

  • malpollyon

    I made a number of QUILTBAG friends, who had the grace to pull me aside and say, “Look, this is what you’re REALLY saying.”
    And who forgave me when I said, “Crap, you’re right.  Stop me if I get stupid again.”

    Thanks for sharing that. Anecdotally from what I’ve read online, that does seem to be the most common way to shed bigotry, forming a personal connection with a member of the minority in question, and seeing up close how inaccurate stereotypes are and the harm that discrimination causes. Still, I can’t help but wish I knew of an equally effective technique that didn’t require the already oppressed to render assistance to their oppressors.

  • Dash1

     

    Still, I can’t help but wish I knew of an equally effective technique
    that didn’t require the already oppressed to render assistance to their
    oppressors.

    It’s called “having allies who take on the responsibility.”

    (Just as a matter of interest, I happen to know, from a goodly amount of online observation, that hapax is a very outspoken ally.)

  • Bruce in South Florida

    Hey Fred – here’s a reference for you:

    GLORY: So, what’s the hubbub, bub? (sits in a chair) What do you got against old Benjy?

    DAWN: He’s a monster. At least you’re up-front about it.

    “The Gift”

  • Keulan

    I don’t get her thinking at all. It seems to be: ‘How dare people lump her in with hateful assholes who say those mean things about gay folks! She’s different because she dresses up her bigotry in nicer language.’ She doesn’t get that no matter how kind your words are, your bigoted actions will always speak louder than those words.

  • AnonymousSam

    “I’m not mean! I just don’t want you to ever be happy, and I believe you deserve to burn forever in agonizing torment until the end of time itself. Stop looking at me like that, I’m being nice!”

  • ako

    Thank you for this, Fred. 

    I am being tired of being asked to play the “We’re all nice people here!” game with people who want to deny me rights and have me legally enshrined as inferior.   I don’t care if they’re able to pour on the sugar  while they do it.  I don’t think they deserve applause because they don’t actually want to have me killed.  And I don’t think breaking with their idea of civility by going “No, actually you’re being a bigot and I don’t want to hold your hand and tell you that I know you’re really a good person because I don’t know that, and you haven’t given me any reason to think it” is more “unloving” than actively working to force me into second-class citizenship. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Scott is arguing she’s not Worley.   And she’s right.  He called for gays and lesbians to be rounded up and put in concentration camps.  She just wants it to be illegal for them to marry the people they love.   If Scott wants me to agree that keeping same-sex marriage illegal is better than doing that and ALSO putting gays and lesbians in concentration camps — I agree.  It is better.

    That doesn’t make it good, or kind, or loving, or fair, or reasonable, or not bigoted.

    So I’ll give you that, Scott.  You are indeed better than Worley on the subject of homosexuals, on which Worley is making clear allusions to Hitler.  But “better than Hitler” is a pretty low bar.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yeah. I’m all for recognizing and appreciating the sort of person who is polite about it and only wants to curtail the rights of others “a little bit”, being all kind and supportive and not calling for their extermination.

    Whenever I see someone acting like that, I try to tell them I appreciate their position. I say “That’s nice. You sure are at least 10% less morally repugnant than other people who share your bigotry.”  Or if I’m feeling less verbose, “That’s mighty white of you.”

  • sherri_n

    Just because you’re a very nice bigot doesn’t mean you’re not a bigot.
     

  • Lavandula

    Hi–I’m new here and I wanted to thank you for this post. When I read Ms. Scott’s article this morning, I was infuriated, way more so than I was was when I first heard Rev. Worley’s tirade. As an ex-evangelical, I’ve heard versions of Worley my whole life and it just runs off my back by now. Yadda, yadda flames of hell, electric fences etc. etc. But at least he doesn’t expect me, the target, to think he’s a nice guy. I’d guess he would probably welcome my hatred as a sign he’s doing something right in the eyes of the Lord. Unfortunately, I have a number of Ms. Scotts in my life, who want me and other LGBTQ folks to pat them on the back for not raising their voices and fir not advocating that we be put in internment camps or executed. Um, mighty big of you, but I’ll have to hold off on that golden seal of approval. At the end of the day, a vote on prop 8 is still a vote and it doesn’t matter whether a nice person or a mean person cast it.

    It also reminds me of discussions Ive had about whether former Alabama governor George Wallace was “really” a racist deep down in his heart or whether he was just a political opportunist. Given the way he was in his early career, I’d say there’s a decent chance he wasn’t “really” a racist but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. He acted like one and brought misery to thousands of people, and that’s how he’ll be judged.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It also reminds me of discussions Ive had about whether former Alabama governor George Wallace was “really” a racist deep down in his heart or whether he was just a political opportunist. Given the way he was in his early career, I’d say there’s a decent chance he wasn’t “really” a racist but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. He acted like one and brought misery to thousands of people, and that’s how he’ll be judged. 

    Arguments about whether someone is “really a racist deep down in his heart” may be abstractly interesting. They may be useful in developing a strategy for dealing with such people (Someone who is racist due to an experiential blindspot that causes them to think they “don’t see color” can be educated; someone who is “racist in their heart of hearts” needs to be kept out of any position where they can do harm), but as a moral argument, this is kinda where the whole “intent isn’t magic” thing comes in.

    Even if George Wallace was “merely” a political opportunist, the fact that when he made his big list of “things which are not basic human rights, but cards I can play for political advantage,” he put “civil rights for people of color” on it *makes him a racist*.

  • LouisDoench

    Well said.

  • Tricksterson

    One can however wonder if his repudiation of his forner beliefs and actions was sicere.  They might have been every bit as calculated as his racist statements and actions probably were  but maybe they weren’t.  His HeelFace turn came after he’d been shot, almost killed and paralyzed for life.  That can make a person reevaluate their life.  I know I became a substantially different person after i got my teeth knocked out in a brawl and that wasn’t nearly as traumatizing as i imagine being wheelchair bound would be.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    It also reminds me of discussions Ive had about whether former Alabama governor George Wallace was “really” a racist deep down in his heart or whether he was just a political opportunist.

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” -Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

  • VMink

    She basically doesn’t want to be thought meanly of, even when she condones — and in a very real sense, actively undertakes — mean actions.

    So she doesn’t like being lumped in with the Worley.  Tough.  She thinks QUILTBAG folk aren’t worthy of the same rights straight couples have in this country.  The only difference is she isn’t saying that they should be put in concentration camps, but she isn’t exactly standing up for them, now is she?

    I was reading Ta-Nehisi Coates blog today, and someone related an absolutely horrific and sad story.  In Heidelberg, Germany, a large Jewish population in the 30’s and 40’s was carted away to various concentration and extermination camps.  After the war, some of the people who survived or escaped returned to their homes.  In the 50’s, German citizens were required to watch documentaries that showed just what had happened, that the Nazi government had enacted widespread genocide.  The grandmother of the poster was visited by a friend who had seen this; the friend was in tears, repeating, “We never knew!  We never knew!”  Grandmother tried to calm her, saying that she didn’t blame the rank-and-file, the common citizens; it was the people at the top who had enacted the Final Solution.  Friend kept wailing “We never knew!”  Finally grandmother snapped, “You had Jewish neighbors! Jewish people lived here! What did you think happened to them?” 

    “They just went away.”

    Think about that for a moment — especially you, Halee, if you’re reading this.

    “They just went away.”

    That is what is going through their minds, these people who try to say they’re not as evil and hateful as Worley, these people who try to paint themselves as ‘good Christians who still think homosexuality is a sin.’  This is what they hope for.  Sure, Worley might be one of those people who actually want to make QUILTBAG concentration and extermination camps (’cause those gays just aren’t going to be killing themselves fast enough in a concentration camp, donchaknow.)  No, what in some ways is even more reprehensible, more loathesome, are the mealy-mouthed “Christians” who claim to not share Worley’s hate but still think homosexuality is a sin.  They’re the ones who are simply looking forward to the day when they can say to themselves that all the gays ‘just went away.’  And won’t be asking how.  You won’t have to think about the blood on your hands because you’ll have convinced yourself there is none.  You’ll just wake up one day — ahh! — and there will be no gays in your neighborhood.  And your cousin Brian will be nowhere to be found, but, ah, surely he is recouperating, surely he has learned the error of his ways, and is learning to not be homosexual!  Surely he will return someday to you, straight and happy and God-fearing!  Like the rest of the gays, he ‘just went away’… but surely he’ll be back, yes?  Yes? … No?

    Halee Scott, you are as culpable for Worley’s hate-spewing rhetoric as if it came from your mouth.  At least he up and said what he wanted to do, as evil as it was.  You?  You just want a certain type of people you don’t like, yet nevertheless human beings, to ‘just go away’ and you won’t even bring yourself to THINK about how they ‘went away.’

  • Ursula L

    “You had Jewish neighbors! Jewish people lived here! What did you think happened to them?” 
    “They just went away.”

    This is a really important point.  

    Who were the last five households on a block where you lived to move away?  Do you know where they all went?  Do you know why they left?  Who were the last five households in your area whom you never had occasion to meet personally who moved away?  Did you investigate where they went and why?

    People move all the time.  That is a fact that oppressors can use to hide oppression, because the general population is used to people moving away or moving into their community, and doesn’t think much of it.  

    And it would be a pretty severe invasion of privacy to expect everyone who moves house to notify all their neighbors, whether or not they had an established personal relationship, of where they are going and why.  

    I live in the upper apartment of a duplex.  My downstairs neighbors moved earlier this year, and a new family moved in.  The old neighbors never told me they were leaving.  I didn’t know until they were gone.  Some of their mail is still being delivered (the house has a common mailbox for both units) and I have no idea where to have it forwarded.  The same goes for the downstairs neighbors I had before the last set to move out.  And the downstairs neighbor before that was my landlady, an elderly woman who moved in with her adult son, and who let me know where she was going primarily so I could mail her the rent.  

    So if someone were to ask me, today, whether I knew what happened to my old neighbors, my answer would have to be “I don’t know.”  If someone asked me what happened to them, my answer would be pretty much “they just went away.”

    And I should know better.  I don’t want to make the errors of my grandparents.  

    But the nature of life is that people move fairly often.  And that people have no interest in letting complete strangers, or even casual acquaintances,  know where they are moving and why.  And putting together the evidence of a lot of people whom you’ve never met or known moving out of town at about the same time, as the somewhat unexpected moves of a few people you know, in order to conclude that they’re all being harmed, is a bit like noticing the dog that didn’t bark in the night.  

    Every single person reading here has had many people in their city move, in the past year, without ever wondering of where those people were going and why.  

    Unless you can answer the question “what happened to them?” for all the people who live within, say, ten miles from you and who moved away in the last ten years, then you’re in pretty much the same position as anyone else whose answer is “they just went away” when questioned about what happened to their neighbor.

    ***

    What is the right way to balance knowing what is happening to your neighbors so you can protect them as is your neighborly duty with respecting their privacy?

    And what if they are moving away to escape oppression?  Demanding to know where your neighbors are moving and why puts them at risk, because ,if you know, than the authorities can use you as a source of information for  tracking them down.  This isn’t a rhetorical point, during WWII a fair number of Jewish families moved or went into hiding to avoid oppression.  

    ***

    What is the answer to:

    “My neighbors, whom I only knew casually, seem to have moved.  They may have moved by choice to avoid oppression.  They may have moved by choice to follow a good employment opportunity.  Or they may have been picked up by the secret police.  So should I start asking around to find out where they are?  And how will it affect their safety if they happened to have moved away voluntarily to seek safety, and I start asking questions that draw attention to their being gone?”  

    I don’t know the perfect answer to that question.  I don’t think that anyone can figure out a 100% effective and responsible answer.  And I certainly don’t know with perfect clarity how the way in which I choose to act on that question will affect the people whose location and safety are in question.  

  • hapax

     

    And putting together the evidence of a lot of people whom you’ve never
    met or known moving out of town at about the same time, as the somewhat
    unexpected moves of a few people you know, in order to conclude that
    they’re all being harmed, is a bit like noticing the dog that didn’t
    bark in the night. 

    A few months ago, hapaxson asked if we could go out to dinner; “I feel like enchiladas tonight.”  So we drove around looking for a good Mexican place.  There used to be lots of them in our town, but all of our favorites had quietly closed up over the past year.

    He groused about this, asking why all “the good places” had gone.  So I asked him how many Latino classmates he had this year, and he thought for a while and said, “You know, I can only name two.”  So we talked about how the recession had dried up the construction business (a major employer of immigrants here) but “that all started several years ago.” 

    Then I said, “Look.  You’ve heard about the new immigration laws in Georgia.  You’ve heard about what’s going on in Arizona.  And you’ve heard a lot of adults all talking about how great that crackdown is, complaining about ‘all the illegals’, singling out anyone with brown skin in the classroom as a potential troublemaker or villain.  Would YOU stick around here if you had a chance to go anywhere else?”

    He was real quiet for a long time.

  • Ursula L

    Then I said, “Look.  You’ve heard about the new immigration laws in Georgia.  You’ve heard about what’s going on in Arizona.  And you’ve heard a lot of adults all talking about how great that crackdown is, complaining about ‘all the illegals’, singling out anyone with brown skin in the classroom as a potential troublemaker or villain.  Would YOU stick around here if you had a chance to go anywhere else?” 

    Yeah.

    You knew, through the news, that an oppressive law has been passed.

    You knew it might have serious consequences for some people in your community, from annoyance at having to provide the paperwork required by law, to  voluntary emigration to escape the force of the law, to arrest, deportation and imprisonment.  

    Now, some months later, you notice that your community is different – a lot of people whom the law would affect, or who might be mistaken for people whom the law would affect, are gone.  

    And it affects you only because you want to go to a particular type of ethnic restaurant, and people of that ethnicity are gone, and no longer operating restaurants where you might buy a meal, and you happened to want that sort of meal and found that the restaurants that served food typical to that ethnicity were gone.  

    But do you know what has actually happened to those people?

    How many were here legally (citizens or legal immigrants) and moved to a different part of the US where conditions are better, because the difficulty of having to constantly prove their right to be here was too much to deal with?

    How many were here without legal documentation, and moved to a part of the US where conditions are better, because they did nothing to harm anyone, but were targeted because the US economy requires certain types of labor, but the US population doesn’t have enough people who are willing and able to do that type of labor, and employers of that type of labor work to attract illegal immigrants because they can’t safely call for legal protection if they exploited?

    How many were here without legal documentation, and were arrested?

    How many were here legally, as citizens or legally documented immigrants, but were picked up and arrested when they forgot their green card at home or didn’t have papers because they were born here and didn’t need them, and then subjected to imprisonment or deportation? 

    And do you know if those who were arrested were treated justly?  Do you know if they were presumed innocent of the crime of being here without the right paperwork until proven guilty in a court of law?  Do you know if  they were deported and then released to freedom in their native land? Or were they subjected to other abuse?  

    ***

    Something quite bad has happened, so that the population in your community of a particular ethnic group is radically reduced.  You didn’t notice it happening as it happened.  

    You only noticed that they were actually gone when it affected you – when you were looking for a particular type of ethnic restaurant, and found that they all were gone. 

    And now, you assume that these people merely moved away because of oppressive laws, but you don’t know that they did so.  

    Anything could have happened to them while you were, entirely legitimately, focusing your attention elsewhere.  

    It is quite certain that what actually happened to them as individuals varied in a range from annoyance at having to produce paperwork on demand, to arrest and then release when they proved that they had the right to be here, to deportation, to being imprisoned, to perhaps even being killed while “resisting arrest.”  

    ***

    There are certainly people who think it is reasonable for the police to have the right to demand papers from anyone who they think looks foreign, and to arrest, with any needed force, anyone who looks foreign but isn’t carrying immigration or citizenship papers, even though people who aren’t foreign citizens aren’t required to carry papers at all. And this includes police officers who will use the power of their  job based on that belief. 

    So the question is, what was happening, and what were you doing, in-between the passage of the new law and noticing the consequence of the law, that restaurants of that type were gone?   

    While you may speculate, and hope, that these people moved away voluntarily, and now are someplace safe where they are treated well, you don’t know that.  

    All that you know is that they were here, and now they aren’t. 

  • hapax

     

    While you may speculate, and hope, that these people moved away
    voluntarily, and now are someplace safe where they are treated well, you
    don’t know that.  

    All that you know is that they were here, and now they aren’t.

    Yep.

    It is scary.  Not only don’t I know, I don’t know how to find out.  And I’m a professional finder-outer.

    I do read the local Spanish-language newspapers (best as I can;  my Spanish is strictly “serviceable”) and there really isn’t discussion of it there, either.

    In fact, those papers are so determinedly positive and optimistic about everything that I can’t help feeling like they are propaganda of some sort.  What I can’t figure out is, propaganda for whom.

  • Lymis

    Golly, don’t you think, as a bare minimum, that not having Constitutional amendments, local laws, political party platforms, and constant harangues from the pulpit might be a good start?

    Please don’t pretend that having your perfectly ordinary and unremarkable neighbors move during a normal period of history is remotely similar to having your Jewish neighbors disappear when the violent and recently installed political party is blaming them all for every trouble in the country.

    At the very least, the German neighbor in the story should have been wailing “We should have known!” rather than “We didn’t know!”

  • hapax

     

    Golly,
    don’t you think, as a bare minimum, that not having Constitutional
    amendments, local laws, political party platforms, and constant
    harangues from the pulpit might be a good start?

    Please don’t pretend that having your perfectly ordinary and
    unremarkable neighbors move during a normal period of history is
    remotely similar to having your Jewish Latino neighbors disappear when the
    violent and recently installed radicalized political party is blaming them all for
    every trouble in the country.

    At the very least, the German neighbor in the story hapax and family should have been
    wailing “We should have known!” rather than “We didn’t know!”

    I dunno.  I think Ursula makes an excellent point.

    What leaves me at a loss is what to DO about it.

  • Ursula L

    Golly, don’t you think, as a bare minimum, that not having Constitutional amendments, local laws, political party platforms, and constant harangues from the pulpit might be a good start?
    Please don’t pretend that having your perfectly ordinary and unremarkable neighbors move during a normal period of history is remotely similar to having your Jewish neighbors disappear when the violent and recently installed political party is blaming them all for every trouble in the country.
    At the very least, the German neighbor in the story should have been wailing “We should have known!” rather than “We didn’t know!”

    The very real problem is that a time and place can feel perfectly normal and protected by the rule of law to a significant majority of people, when in fact things are going very, very wrong in ways designed to keep things looking normal and protected by the rule of law to people not directly targeted.  

    Now, in hindsight, Nazism is clearly pure evil.  

    At the time, for people living through it, who were part of the population that Nazism focused on as being the “right” sort of people rather than the “wrong” sort of people, Nazism was exciting, and fun, and very inclusive.  If you were the right sort of person, the Nazi regime didn’t merely let you live, it enthusiastically offered you a place in the organization, whether it was camping trips for children, or clubs where housewives could meet, to sports teams, to hunting clubs, etc.  

    These days, we focus on the ways Nazis discriminated.  But we ignore the ways in which Nazis were inclusive, even aggressively inclusive, wanting to celebrate and include every individual whom they considered the “right” sort of person.  

    Everything was done to make most Germans feel that things were getting better, and that society was protected by the rule of law, when in fact things were going horribly wrong in ways kept quite deliberately hidden or at least low key.  

    ***

    What we think is going on, now, assuming that the Constitution is being correctly implemented by the government, and the rule of law is in place, that the political parties are in genuine opposition rather than reflecting minor variations on one end of the political spectrum, is not necessarily the full picture of what is actually happening.  

    Nazism worked by having a beguine, even positive, face.  And by having excuses for the visible parts of its atrocities that made the parts of the atrocities that could be seen seem reasonable.

    So you might think that your neighbor was deported for some reason established in the law.  You didn’t know that they were deported to a slave labor camp where those to weakened to work were killed.  

    ***

    We judge people living in Nazi Germany with the benefit of over half a century of hindsight.  

    But we don’t have the benefit of hindsight when considering what is happening now in our own society.  

    And there are some pretty scary things happening in our own society that we know about, that  the government isn’t even trying to hide.  Such as people, some of whom were legally minors when captured, having been held, for years, without trial, at Guantanamo.  If our government does this without trying to hide it, what is it doing that they actually think is bad enough to hide?  

    ***

    The challenge isn’t merely to stop the Nazis when the Nazis are someone else.  That’s easy, emotionally.  You’re the good-guys, they’re the bad-guys, and you know what to do.

    The challenge is to recognize and stop things when your society is starting to make the same mistakes the Nazis made. And that happens in the shadows, targeting a minority of the population in ways that don’t affect the majority directly, and that are largely kept hidden, while offering the majority the promise of a good life.  

    ***

    My family tree is full of genuine Nazis.  And they weren’t the anti-social individuals in my family, the people who were misfits, whom you’d wonder about.  They were the people who were social, who enjoyed joining groups and cooperate activities designed to help society.  

    People who, like one of my great-aunts, wanted little girls to have the opportunity to enjoy summer camp.  And who took local leadership roles in the BDM to help little girls enjoy that opportunity.  

    ***

    The Constitution is ink on paper.  Running a government to fulfill the spirit of the Constitution is a much more difficult thing.  The paper doesn’t provide any particular assurance of the implementation.  And only the implementation can give the paper meaning.  

  • P J Evans

     Such as people, some of whom were legally minors when captured, having
    been held, for years, without trial, at Guantanamo.  If our government
    does this without trying to hide it, what is it doing that they actually
    think is bad enough to hide

    This.
    Because the government is arguing, in court, that they don’t have to release anyone, even the ones they know are innocent. And they’re arguing also that the evidence is too sensitive even for judges to see all of it. And the courts are buying these arguments, and not allowing appeals even from people the government has admitted are wrongly held.
    The government, or its ‘security agencies’, also (despite what they say) are collecting all the phone calls and e-mails that they can – and that’s all of them – so don’t bet that it can’t happen to you, They’re playing six-degrees-of-separation with people’s lives and freedom now.

  • stinger

     Ursula, I agree we can’t be expected to know why this neighbor or that family moved away, if we didn’t know them well. But if *every* such neighbor was black, and local black-owned businesses were constantly vandalized, and our national leaders and newspaper editorials made constant public announcements as to how inferior and undesirable black people were — could you simply say “We never knew”?

  • Merkmal

    In peace time on a busy block, this is perfectly understandable.  During wartime under a brutal, anti-semitic government, this argument doesn’t really pass muster.  People didn’t want to know what was going on.  

  • Erista

    I have never understood stupidity like this. I would rather be called every foul name in the book than denied my human rights. Hell, I’d rather be beaten up than have it written into law that I am an inferior human being.

    This woman is a fool. A person who stabs you while smiling is no better than a person who stabs you while shouting obscenities at you. Either way, you end up bleeding on the floor.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    Nice is different than good, but opposing legal equality for others is neither. It’s simply unfair.

    So be fair.

    It’s probably best to be fair and also kind, but fairness is the important part. As long as you’re fair, no one else will really care whether or not you’re particularly kindly about it.

    Or instead of unfair/fairness, you can use my preferred terminology: unjust/justice.

    Tzedek, tzedek tirdof.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I prefer the screaming bigots to the smiling ones. The screaming ones make me angry, but the smiling ones make me angry and give me the heebie-jeebies. The screaming ones aren’t trying to hide anything. The smiling ones are.

  • Mary

    Ah, this reminds me of a former “friend” of mine. Always nice to our gay boss, I was shocked when he told me that he figured he was screwing his step-son because “that is what gays do” I didn’t want to mess up the friendship so I just smiled and said “I guess we can agree to disagree.”  I should of have said something. My “friend” ended up being an abusive a-hole to me, anyway. It wasn’t worth it to be nice.

  • Dash1

    Halee Scott: ” In particular, I am asking Christians who support legalizing gay
    marriage to not assume fellow Christians like me are hateful, bigoted,
    backwards, or just plain mean because we oppose legalizing gay marriage.”

    That needs rephrasing: “In particular, I am asking Christians who support integration to not assume fellow Christians like me are hateful, bigoted, backwards, or just plain mean because we oppose letting Black people into our schools, churches, and neighborhoods.”

  • MadGastronomer

    Thank you, Fred.

    I would, though, point out that in the US there are more basic rights than marriage which still need protecting for LGB and most especially T people. The right to not be fired for being who they are. The right to housing. The right to use the same public accommodations as everyone else.

    The mainstream — white, cis, middle-to-upper class — gay and lesbian communities (and I am using all terms specifically and advisedly) have achieved enough security to make it easy to forget that that security is not protected by law in much of the US, and that QPOC, financially unstable, and most especially trans* people are extremely vulnerable. We have come to focus on issues like serving openly in the military (now more-or-less won) and marriage, but these are often most useful to those who are secure in having a home and a job.

    Please, USians, tell your congresscritters to support ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) whenever it’s introduced (as it has been every session but one since 1994). Support any and every any and every local and state law that does anything similar. People from elsewhere, please support whatever measures come up in your homes. Do not think that marriage equality is the last battle. We’re still fighting so many others, and too many even of our own forget it.

    (No, I’m not back. A link crossed my awareness, as it does every month or two, and I was scrolling down the front page, and read this, and sniffled, so I thought I’d open my big mouth. And on a totally personal note, because some of you might like to know: Marriage equality has become that extra bit more personal. I’m engaged. Our state has passed a marriage equality law, as of about six weeks after I proposed. It’s up for public referendum in November, and will have to pass that to take effect. Polling says we have the votes, but not by a huge margin. It’s enough, though, that I have high hopes that when we marry next April, it will be legal in our state.)

  • thatotherjean

     Congratulations, MadGastronomer!  That, and I didn’t know ENDA existed;  but I do now, and will be watching for it.  Thanks!  It’s good to see your name here again.

  • VMink

    You may not be ‘back,’ but it’s good to see you again.  Also, congratulations!

    And thank you for the signal boost on ENDA.  I will be certain to let my congressfolk know that I support it, and will encourage its support from others.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    MadGastronomer: Congratulations as well! And I really do hope y0u and your intended can get married next year. :) (It was also a pleasant surprise to see your name come up :) )

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy


    And on a totally personal note, because some of you might like to know: Marriage equality has become that extra bit more personal. I’m engaged. 

    Congratulations!!! To both of you. 

  • Beroli

     Congratulations, MadGastronomer.

  • redcrow

    >>> Marriage equality has become that extra bit more personal. I’m engaged.

    Congradulatons!

  • Tonio

     Congratulations to MadGastronomer. Sounds like the two of us live in the same state. As a strong supporter of marriage equality, I condemn the idea that it should even be on the ballot at all, but I will damn sure be voting to preserve the equality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1487415389 Evan Au Nez Français

    It shouldn’t be on the ballot, because it being on there is unconstitutional as fuck, which is why I’m confident the Supreme Court will systematically shut every state’s move to legalize hate and discrimination eventually. I’m a born-and-raised Californian and very liberal so you can imagine my shock, disgust, and shame when Prop 8 was passed (with the help of lots of illegally-contributed out-of-state Mormon money). 

  • Dash1

    It was a total delight to see your name at the top of a post. Back on a regular basis or not, I hope we hear from you again. Thank you for adding a push for ENDA.

    And congratulations and very best wishes to both of you!

  • hapax

     

    I would, though, point out that in the US there are more basic rights
    than marriage which still need protecting for LGB and most especially T
    people.

    Thank you, MG, for pointing out the importance of this.

    And congratulations!

  • Tricksterson

    Aww, please come back.  Those of us who remember you definitely miss you.

  • Tricksterson

    And dopey me I forgot to add congrats on the engagement.

  • MadGastronomer

    Aw, thanks. I stopped commenting over here because I really hate Disqus, though, and Disqus is still here, and still really annoying.

  • Lunch Meat

    Congratulations, MadG! Super excited for you!

    I’ve missed you too, but I hate disqus too so I completely understand.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    MadGastronomer

    I’m engaged.

    Congratulations!

    TRiG.

  • P J Evans

     Congratulations, and and I hope not only that you can marry, but that it will be long and happy!

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

    This message from Halee Scott reminded me of a couple of things the Plaid Adder said to parents of gay children, and besides, we still have a couple of days to go over here on the UK consultation on equal marriage, so I wrote: A Nice Message. Thanks, Fred!

  • alfgifu

     we still have a couple of days to go over here on the UK consultation on equal marriage, so I wrote: A Nice Message.

    Good to see this mentioned here!  Just for anyone who hasn’t clicked through to the end EdinburghEye’s post, a direct link to the consultation survey on marriage equality in the UK can be found here.  It can be filled out really quickly if you don’t want to enter text giving your reasoning, but has space to explain yourself if you want to.  Please, if you are from the UK, do spend a few minutes letting the government know that we would like marriage equality – yesterday, if that were possible.

    Also, massive congratulations MadGastronomer!  All fingers and toes crossed for things to work out politically/legally for you.

  • BrokenBell

    It’s this weird and infuriating idea that bigotry has to be hateful. It has to be loud and rough and angry, and if it isn’t, then it can’t be bigotry, and you’re being mean and oversensitive for calling it such.

  • Jeff Weskamp


    And it’s true. She doesn’t want anyone else to approve or accept her religious perspective. All she asks is that they allow her *to write it into law*.”

    This is the focal point of the whole debate.  If certain religious groups believe that romantic bonds and/or sexual acts between people of the same gender are sinful, they have the right to that belief.  What they do *not* have is the right to have our government make *laws* based on that belief.

    If I could address Scott personally. I’d ask her how she would feel if, say, a group of Catholics decided to lobby the government to criminalize the eating of non-fish meat on Fridays.  Or if a group of Jews campaigned for laws forbidding all grocery stores and butcher shops in America from selling trayf meats.  Even if these hypothetical groups expressed kindness and sympathy toward her and her fellow Protestants, wouldn’t she *still* feel like these groups were imposing their personal religious beliefs upon her though force of law?  Well, *that’s* how many people in this country, including many Christians, feel about the Defense of Marriage Act!

  • Tonio

    If certain religious groups believe that romantic bonds and/or sexual
    acts between people of the same gender are sinful, they have the right
    to that belief.  What they do *not* have is the right to have our
    government make *laws* based on that belief.

    I take that principle a half-step further and apply it outside the realm of lawmaking. That means if those groups want everyone to regard those bonds or acts as objectively immoral, they should present arguments that don’t rest on “Because our god and/or our holy book says so.” Not the same as trying to laws based on their belief, but it does come across like an attempt to rewrite moral principles at the societal level.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    if those groups want everyone to regard those bonds or acts as objectively immoral, they should present arguments that don’t rest on
    “Because our god and/or our holy book says so.”

    When you say they should present such arguments, do you mean that they will achieve their goals more readily if they do so, or that doing so is the more moral choice, or that you would prefer they did so, or something else, or some combination?

  • Tonio

     Doing so would be the more moral choice. Such groups often espouse worldviews that don’t seem to allow for the existence of other religions or for individual choice on religious affiliation, often sounding like social ideologies.

  • JustoneK

    Adding my own hearty FUCK YEAH to this whole post and how well it articulates some things I can’t.
    And glad to hear about MadGastronomer!  (The ENDA thing is already named to sound like an anti-discrimination thing.  I’ma have to see about my own representative people to bug about it.)

  • Jessica

    I’m not even going to read, click on, or comment on, Scott’s dreck.  That’s what I’m doing for Pride– putting the bigots on *mute*.   Think about it– the thing that encourages them to write more of this crap are the comments, the clicks, the site visitors.  I, for one, won’t be offering them any more incentive. 

  • http://twitter.com/thistle_seed Candice

    Thanks for this post. I have Christian family and friends who are very leery of talking about “the gay thing” (their words). I am pretty darn sure they are not for gay marriage. One of the cries I hear is “all this supposed liberal tolerance! they’re more intolerant than us! why don’t they leave us alone?!”. I bought this at first, and felt bad about bringing it up.

    Not anymore.
    Truth is, I was raised by emotionally abusive, really unstable parents who told me up-front that if I didn’t procreate I was worthless, and if I established a romantic relationship with someone who wasn’t white, then I wasn’t welcome in the house. I ended up in a heterosexual marriage with a white man, and we’re now talking about kids – but just because I may fit into my dad’s happy little box of acceptance doesn’t mean that the threat isn’t damning, hateful, and hurtful even now. Even when we haven’t spoken in years.I suppose people of white, majority, Christian, whatever privilege don’t – and can’t – get it.My experiences make me hypersensitive to social injustices like the entire anti-gay movement… because that barely-under-the-radar emotional manipulation, blaming, and victim-playing is SO damaging. SO much worse than more obvious forms of violence because it’s rare that you’ll get validation that you’ve been wronged (in my case, even from neighbors who heard screaming matches and therapists who heard my suicide plans). I can only imagine how gay Americans feel when it’s not just their nuclear families, but whole religious denominations, employers, and whoever else is sharing space in their community that wish them silent, gone, even dead/burning in hell. And then it’s the LGBT community and its supporters who “have the problem”.

    When my mom told me I couldn’t come home if I dated a woman, and I cried and headed for the door, she mimed the aforementioned film by hugging me and asking what was wrong.

    Bigoted Christians, stop hugging us and asking us what’s wrong.

  • LL

    Yeah, it’s hard to decide who is more repellent: the up-front, hateful assholes or the “nice” ones who act so hurt when you tell them they’re not actually nice people. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     For sheer irritation factor, listen to guys like Santorum try to portray themselves as heroic because they don’t openly advocate for the imprisonment or execution of gay people. Like that’s some amazing achievement.

  • Nequam

    For sheer irritation factor, listen to guys like Santorum try to portray themselves as heroic because they don’t openly advocate for the imprisonment or execution of gay people. Like that’s some amazing achievement.

    Sometimes I think a point was utterly missed in Chris Rock’s (in)famous standup routine, and it boiled down to this sentence:

    “N___rs always want credit for some shit they’re supposed to do.”

    What nobody took away, it seems, is that by this standards there are a lot of n____rs of all ethnicities.

  • MadGastronomer

    Thanks for all the well-wishes folks, from both of us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1144875249 LaDonna Sasscer

    “That’s only fair. Or at least, it’s perfectly fair in Scott’s little world — a world in which the old woman being beaten doesn’t even register as a participant in the discussion. She’s invisible and unimportant. She doesn’t count.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It is scary.  Not only don’t I know, I don’t know how to find out.  And I’m a professional finder-outer.

    The only real way would be to see if there have been sharp demographic shifts. The analogy is if you look at Yugoslavia generally and Bosnia in particular from the 1960s to the 1980s the demographic composition tended to stay stable or vary slowly with time.

    Fast forward to the unofficial census the UN did in 1996 and compare to 1991 and you will immediately see sudden and sharp demographic shifts, to which only one answer exists: A war happened.

    It’s less noticeable in your area, but a demographer looking at the demographic data for Latino vs white could zero in almost immediately on what parts of your city held illegals the most and fit it in with why there aren’t any more.

    But the census only happens every ten years, and cities don’t normally tabulate demographic data on rental or self-owned housing.

    A proxy measure is the total renter population. Generally unfavorable policies tend to not only cause demographic shifts, they also tend to force the total down against the natural increase.

    Sometimes the plural of anecdote is data. The difficulty is getting that data.

    People claiming that hapax’s concerns are overblown ignore the fact that anyone who isn’t part of the dominant majority can get treated like crap pretty quickly.

    Garden-variety example: I was down in Calfornia with an acquaintance I’d met down there. This individual was not white. At dusk, a cop pulled us over because the car’s headlights weren’t on. The cop got very nice and polite when he saw me, and even politer when told I’m Canadian.

    I’m also white.

    We got let off with a warning.

    How much you wanna bet this individual would have been fined if I hadn’t been in the car?

    Now amplify that to if an actual crime had been committed. I’d probably be offered the chance to call a lawyer, probably apologized to for being taken down so roughly, etc.

    What do you suppose would have happened to the other person?

  • Stev84

    At the time, for people living through it, who were part of the
    population that Nazism focused on as being the “right” sort of people
    rather than the “wrong” sort of people, Nazism was exciting, and fun,
    and very inclusive.

    In that regard, it’s interesting to compare the reaction to the T4 program. That was the Nazi euthanasia program to kill mentally and severely physically disabled people. The key here is that at least at the beginning, most of those were Germans with families who cared for them. Not “other people” like Jews.

    People heard rumors about what was going on and removed their family members from  hospitals and asylums when possible. There was popular dissent and even some public demonstrations against it (also the people living in the cities were they were killed definitely knew what was going on). The Catholic church spoke out about it and since by that time the war was becoming intense, the Nazi leadership couldn’t afford a big confrontation with the church or losing the loyalty of the people. The program was officially stopped in 1941, though it continued in greater secrecy but on a smaller scale until the end of the war. It was the only time the Nazis gave in to public demands.

    The true scale of the Holocaust was probably easier to hide since the big extermination camps were in Eastern Europe. But there were large concentration camps with Jewish and later Russian inmates in Germany too. To some extent people knew what was going on.

    As for original topic:
    They act like this is some kind of abstract, theoretical discussion that can be had in ivory tower. In that case, yeah you can say things like “let’s agree to disagree.” Meanwhile in reality, real people are hurt by their actions or inaction every day. They seem to be oblivious to that suffering or tolerate it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I speak in genuine ignorance here:

    Many of our parents/grandparents/great-grandparents (depending on our age) lived in the US during a time when large numbers of Japanese-Americans were forced to leave their homes and put in internment camps.  What did they think was happening?  How many people knew clearly where their Japanese neighbors went and what was happening to them?

    Don’t misunderstand me — wrong is wrong, but hindsight is also 20/20.

  • Lori

     

    How many people knew clearly where their Japanese neighbors went and what was happening to them?  

    People may not have known much about the conditions in the camps, but unless they were hiding in a cave they knew were their Japanese neighbors went. The orders for internment were public. They were horribly unjust and wrong, but the internments* weren’t intended as instruments of genocide and weren’t kept secret.

    *German-Americans were also held in camps. That tends to get less notice then the Japanese internments. Some of the German-Americans actually were working against the US to aid Germany (although by no means all, or even a majority), which may have something to do with the difference in coverage.

  • Dash1

     The German-American internment was substantially less broad-based than the Japanese-American internment. My mother’s family was German-American (German-speaking immigrant parents) in WWII, and she wasn’t aware of any danger that they might be interned. They got a few rocks through the window, but that was neighbors, not the government.
     

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Not surprised re: German-Americans.

    White privilege is most starkly observed here: the fact of appearing white means the government spends extra time deciding what to do with you instead of “OMGFIFTHCOLUMN!!!!1111oneoneone”.

  • Dash1

     No question about the white privilege. In addition, Germans had been in the American colonies since close to the beginning. Benjamin Franklin famously worried about the immigration problem, but the problem immigrants he was talking about were German. If you’re going to intern Mr. Schneider aus Darmstadt solely for being aus Darmstadt, then you’re going to have to worry about not upsetting Mr. Schneider whose great-grandfather came from Darmstadt and who, himself, works for the State Department or Mr. Snyder the judge who will hear the case.

    (I’m sure it didn’t hurt that the American allied commander was named “Eisenhower” instead of, say, “Johnson.”)

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, it wasn’t just their being wite, although I’m sure that was a factor, but also a matter of numbers.  There were and are a lot more German and Italian Americans that Japanese Americans and they were, the Germans anyway, not so sure about the Italians, spread all over the country.  Just logistically it would have been a nightmare.  Also the Japanese uinternament was at least partially a landgrab.  Most Japanese Americans in California were farmers whose land was, after the internment sold for a small fraction of their market value.  Note that there were no internments in Hawaii where they were far more numerous and where they could have hurt the war effort a lot more because of Hawaii’s strategic role in the Pacific Theater.

  • Ursula L

    People may not have known much about the conditions in the camps, but unless they were hiding in a cave they knew were their Japanese neighbors went. The orders for internment were public. They were horribly unjust and wrong, but the internments* weren’t intended as instruments of genocide and weren’t kept secret. 

    The arrest and imprisonment (internment) being public knowledge  isn’t the same as “knowing where their Japanese neighbors went.”

    The fact that the Japanese neighbors were arrested and imprisoned, taken away, was, officially, public knowledge.

    But how many people who didn’t have Japanese friends or close acquaintances paid attention?  

    Did they know where those prisons were?

    Did they do anything to check and see whether their Japanese neighbors were actually in the places they were told that their Japanese neighbors were taken to?

    Did they follow up to see that their Japanese neighbors remained in those places and were physically unharmed?

    Did they know whether their Japanese neighbors were provided with suitable nutrition, clean water, and medical care?  

    And did they follow up, month after month, year after year, to remain certain that their Japanese neighbors remained physically unharmed, if still unjustly imprisoned, that they weren’t condemned to death by neglect and unsafe/unhealthy conditions, even if not actively murdered?  

    If they didn’t do such follow-up to the events of arrest and imprisonment, then they didn’t know what happened to their Japanese neighbors.  They merely knew that their Japanese neighbors were arbitrarily and unjustly arrested and taken away, to presumed imprisonment, but without factual knowledge of their actual fate.

    What they thought they knew (that their Japanese neighbors were “interned” in a safe place and well cared for, and that they would remain their until the threat of the war was over and then would be released) was not the same as what they actually knew (that their Japanese neighbors were arrested, and had been taken away and not released.)

    ***

    The arrest and deportation of Jews and others was public knowledge.

    But the facts of the arrest was given pretty color by the promise that it was merely relocation, that there would be good conditions at the destination, that it was justified by the best interests of the nation as a whole.  All of which was a lie. And it was a lie told both to Jews as they were taken away and to the people who saw them taken.  

    So a lot of people knew the outline of what was happening (the Jews are going away) but they believed what they were told about why the Jews were going away and what would happen to the Jews where they were going.   

  • Stev84

    In 1944 there was even a Supreme Court decision that upheld the internment of Japanese Americans in principle:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korematsu_v._United_States

    But they also decided that the government could not hold citizens it describes as “loyal”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_parte_Endo

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    IIRC it was also discovered that in order to get that judgement the federal government purposely withheld and concealed evidence.

  • HaveYouSeenLydia

    Fantastic post. Thank you. I’ve shared it everywhere I share things, and this will be so helpful dealing with people think like blogger you critique. I think it gets a tad inflammatory, inaccurate, and off-message with the “beating an old woman” paragraph, but overall I think it’s incredibly spot-on. Well done.

  • MadGastronomer

    If you think the bit about the old woman being beaten was inaccurate, then you are clearly ignoring part of the situation here: Actual people are being actually harmed by her actually actions. I’m one of them. I am harmed by her vote. Personally. So are thousands, millions, of other LGB people living in California and elsewhere in the US. That’s what people like you and her miss. We are people, and we are being harmed by this. Denying us equality and full rights harms us. And so many of you nice Christian people (Fred excepted, because that’s why he put the line in) want to ignore that we exist, that we are real (some of us are even Christians), that we are being harmed, and turn this into some abstract academic debate of philosophy. It isn’t. This is my fucking life. And yet when Ms. Scott speaks, she leaves our reality out entirely. We are one little cousin that she doesn’t mind taking rights away from, like they’re a dangerous toy he shouldn’t play with, and the realities of our lives, even our existence beyond her one cousin, are completely ignored. Fred tried to reinsert our reality into the conversation, in part with that line, to drive home that we’re here and being hurt, and you think that makes it inflammatory and inaccurate.

    How nice.

  • MisterPickwick

    Fact: whenever voters in America have had a measure on the ballot to ban gay marriage, the majority of voters have voted in favor.  Even in liberal, Democratic states such as Oregon.  And California, for Pete’s sake.  Most African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans oppose gay marriage.  The Third World is overwhelmingly opposed to gay marriage.  The vast majority in most of the world’s faith traditions oppose gay marriage.  Heck, even the Dalai Lama opposes it.   So, this isn’t really an issue of Bigots versus Enlightened Persons (as you would like it to be).   The typical supporter of gay marriage is urban, affluent, highly educated, secular and  very, very white.   Therefore, it’s probably more accurate to see the gay marriage debate as largely between Rich, White Elites (supporters of gay marriager) and Everyone Else.   

  • Ursula L

    I’ve heard that the Dalai Lama is opposed to gay marriage. If true, what do you make of that? Is he a bigot? 

    Obviously, yes.

    It is entirely possible for a person to be a moral leader on one issue, but woefully blind and bigoted on another issue.  

    I’m really not sure what sort of point you’re trying to make with this.  If someone opposes equality and favors oppression, then they’re a bigot on the matter at hand.  Their job title is quite irrelevant to whether or not a particular political position they have is bigoted.  

  • Rissa

    The original point (such as it was) seems to have been edited out of his comment entirely. If you’d seen Mr. P’s original post you’d probably be even more confused. It was a small wall of text with some strange claims that the only people who support gay marriage are “rich white liberal elites” and an accusation that Fred is trying to make this about unenlightened vs. enlightened people. It was like reading a first-year philosophy paper: made my eyes cross. When I looked again it had been edited down to three sentences.

    Still doesn’t make much sense, but it’s less of a headache to wade through.

  • MadGastronomer

     Ah, that’s what happened to that racist claptrap claiming everybody who isn’t white is against marriage equality. Funny, the NAACP came out with a strong statement in support of it not too long ago.

    Public opinion’s tide has shifted on this, strongly, everywhere but in the highest age bracket (and is shifting some there, too, just not so strongly), across race and sex. The oft-repeated idea that black people don’t support same-sex marriage is straight-up racist.

    And even if it were true that nobody but a small portion of the population supported marriage equality, marriage equality would still be the right and just thing, just as other civil rights are. This is why the US is not a straight-up democracy: In a democracy, the majority absolutely gets to determine everybody’s rights. But in the US, we have checks and balances, and one of those is having courts that rule on whether or not laws violate people’s rights. One of the jobs of the courts is to protect the minority from the majority. They don’t get it right all the time, or even most of the time, but it’s one of their jobs.

  • Guru Mike

    “I’ve heard that the Dalai Lama is opposed to gay marriage. If true, what do you make of that? Is he a bigot?”

    Yup.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I’ve been mostly lurking (haven’t had time to keep up with the comment threads), but I just wanted to chime in with congratulations and good wishes to MadGastronomer.

  • erikagillian

    This struck me as a weird upside down tone argument.  I’m nice therefore you can’t be mean to me?  And you’re nice because it ain’t your life on the line.

    And because I can always do with a protest song and I can’t read ‘nice’ without thinking of this one.

    Don’t know if that’ll work, haven’t tried it before.

  • renniejoy

    Best wishes and hugs to MadG and fiancee!!!

  • http://twitter.com/ModernReject Nicole Cottrell

    You equate niceness with fairness. The problem is, fairness, as much as we would like it to be, is not a Biblical value.

    God does not use fairness as a guage or judge, and understandably so since one person’s fairness is another person’s grief.

    My main trouble with this argument is that in order to help or bless a particular group, we must sacrifice the overall good of society. For those of us who are in support of marriage between a man and a woman, we are told that we are being mean to gays. When in fact, what we are trying to do, is be kind to society as a whole.

    Emotionally, would I like to support gay-marriage? Yes! I hate feeling like (and subsequently being told) I’m some gay-hating Christian, when nothing could be further from the truth. It is simply that my emotions do not dictate my choice on this issue, unlike so many. My emotions must be put aside to objectively choose what I believe is better for our culture.

    Niceness and fairness is perhaps the poorest argument in support of gay-marriage because it assumes that those are virtues, when God says otherwise.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Y’know what? No. Just no. 

    I hate feeling like (and subsequently being told) I’m some gay-hating Christian, when nothing could be further from the truth. 

    There is NO SUCH THING as “I love you and don’t hate you, but I don’t think you deserve the full rights of a human being.” The first clause precludes the second.

    You ARE “some gay-hating christian”. The whole “But I think it is objective fact that you being allowed to marry is bad for our culture” thing is hate. In fact, let’s try this….

    Emotionally, would I like to support interracial marriage? Yes! I hate feeling like (and subsequently being told) I’m some black-hating Christian, when nothing could be further from the truth. It is simply that my emotions do not dictate my choice on this issue, unlike so many. My emotions must be put aside to objectively choose what I believe is better for our culture.

    Yep. Racists believe that the inferiority of one race over another is objective truth just as much as you believe that the sub-humanity of QUILTBAG people is objective truth. And that is by definition hateful.

    Finally:

    My emotions must be put aside to objectively choose what I believe is better for our culture.

    Marriage equality is objectively better for our culture. It is OBJECTIVE FACT that homosexuality is neither demonic possession, nor a mental illness, nor something that can be changed through prayer, therapy, or torture. It is OBJECTIVE FACT that QUILTBAG people are full human beings. It is OBJECTIVE FACT that denying marriage equality causes people to suffer. It is OBJECTIVE FACT that no straight person has ever or will ever be harmed by allowing same-sex marriage. And it objective fact that no matter what you feel, your actions constitute acts of hate and bigotry.

    Me, I’m straight. I’m married. I’m christian. Your position cheapens my religion using it as a tool of hate. Your position cheapens my marriage by making it not a right due all consenting adults but a special privilege granted me by virtue of the penis-to-vagina ratio of my relationship, and treating my choice of spouse — the single most important decision of my life — like something fungible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     I have to admit, I think that treating people cruelly and unfairly (that is, the opposite of ‘niceness’ and ‘fairness’) is a pretty good indicator of hate. I mean, why else would you mistreat someone in a way that you admit isn’t fair?

    “Sorry, I admit that slashing your tires and smashing your windows with a rock was not very nice, but you can’t accuse of me of hating you!”

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Niceness and fairness is perhaps the poorest argument in support of
    gay-marriage because it assumes that those are virtues, when God says
    otherwise.

    Sure, that makes sense. For as long as you genuinely believe that being nice and fair to me and those like me opposes the will of God, then it makes sense that you will choose to be mean and unfair to me and those like me.

    For as long as you believe that, you will choose to be my enemy, whether you hate me or not.

    It’s unfortunate, because you’re wrong about the will of God, and there’s no actual reason for you to choose to be my enemy. 

    But these things happen, sometimes. It’s unfortunate, but there it is.

    Perhaps some day you’ll understand the truth about how I and people like me actually relate to the good of society as a whole, and the kingdom of God, both of which we comprise a significant chunk of. Then again, perhaps you never will.

    Either way, for now you choose to be my enemy, which means I am obligated to oppose you if you try to exert political power over me and those like me. I have to, because the way you would exert that power acts to damage and injure me, my husband, my family, my friends, their families, and ultimately society as a whole.

    It’s a pity. I mean, I don’t hate you or anything. I don’t even know you. Perhaps you’re a really nice person, who is just wrong about the nature of society and the kingdom of God. There are a lot of nice people who are wrong about that stuff; you could easily be one of them.

    I don’t like having nice people declare themselves my enemies. I don’t like having to fight to prevent nice people from injuring me, my friends, my family, the people I love and care about.

    But when I have to, I do.

  • Ethan

    No. The Kingdom of Heaven pulls us away from any self-aggrandizing view of us as policy-makers or moral authoritarians and instead tells us to live and love well.

    So stop trying to be some kind of Theorcratic King of Israel and start loving me.

    Me. A gay Christian. A human being. You’re required to love me because I’m your brother in Christ. You’re required to love me because I’m a human being.

    So love me already, and stop hating me.

  • CeeAitchEe

    Oh, yes… you are being OH so objective by denying people equal rights just because your god says so. You are being objective saying that your religious foibles should be allowed to dictate access to civil services, protections & laws.  You are being objective when you say you’re doing it for the good of society, when there has been absolutely no *objective* evidence anywhere, ever, that shows that allowing homosexuals access to civil liberties is a detriment to society. 

    Guess what Ms. Cotrell- our government is *based* on the concept of fairness! Fair and equal treatment of all citizens is the *hallmark* of American law- if you were really being objective you would be saying:”My religion does not allow for homosexuality. However, the law dictates that all citizens are allowed the same civil rights, responsibilities and liberties, so denying a class of people access to those liberties based on a  religious argument is unjust and illegal, and therefore I should not participate in erecting legal barriers to equal access.”

    People used this same argument against interracial marriage. They were wrong then. You are wrong now.

  • Morilore

    Emotionally, would I like to support gay-marriage? Yes! I hate feeling like (and subsequently being told) I’m some gay-hating Christian, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    If this is true, what you are describing is your conscience, not some sentimental incontinence.

  • Nathan Brown

    Thank you SO MUCH for this piece! This articulates what I’ve been struggling to say for years. I really, really appreciate it!

  • Gwhittle

    Accept the religious right’s argument that marriage is a religious tradition and their whole argument crumbles against them.  There are thousands of Christian churches who are willing to doctrinally accept gay marriage and to perform the ceremonies. How can a religious majority pass a law for a state sponsored religious belief that precludes ANY religion from performing the religious ceremony of marriage for a gay couple???  That is unconstitutional… not only does it conflict with the “equal protection under the law” clause, but it also conflicts with the clause pertaining to “state sponsored religion.” This nation was founded upon freedom of religion. If the religious majority can pass a law to deny the right of gays (as consenting adults) to marry, then the religious majority can pass a law to preclude Mormons from conducting “eternal marriages” inside temples, or to preclude Mormons from doing proxy baptisms for the dead.  Our founding fathers came to the USA to escape the persecutions created by state sponsored religion, and therefore established constitutional checks and balances to preclude religious tyranny of the majority.  The effort to legally ban gay marriage is a VERY slippery slope for religious freedom. If the majority can restrict the religious practices of gays by precluding the religious rite of marriage, then they can restrict the religious practices of ANY minority. A religious majority would have the legal precedent to institute Sharia law in a community if this legal precedent permitting a religious majority to pass laws to restrict religious and civil rights of citizens were to be allowed to stand!!!

  • Gwhittle

    Are
    you absolutely sure that you are not as Saul standing their holding the
    coats while the Christian’s are stoned, or maybe as the adulteress is
    stoned? You think you are doing good. You think you are doing God’s
    will. But you are actually persecuting people against the will of God.
    But then again, when did Christ ever support persecuting others? Do you
    need to be blinded to come to see; to become like Paul? Shed your
    cultural biases and follow Christ by being kind and compassionate to all
    and by defending equality for all. Stop cheering on the masses that are
    stoning and persecuting the homosexuals. Ye who are without sin eat the
    first Chick-Fil-A sandwich!
     

  • Fay Salvaras

    This is a really, really nice piece.  Well done. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1487415389 Evan Au Nez Français

    Do straight people engage in a drunken Woodstock free-for-all when THEY get married? No? Then why would gay people? BIGOT.


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