July 29, 2011
Overexposure is Dangerous for Gays and JewsBy Robert Oscar Lopez
As Mike Bates at NewsBusters points out, gay-themed news stories have reached an absurd prominence lately. He was flummoxed by the amount of time devoted by Don Lemon (CNN) to same-sex marriages in New York:
It has been almost a month since New York's legislature passed the law. Voilà: Gay News Overload Syndrome.
Barack Obama finally signed the certification for Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal, to great fanfare, with new volleys from the one-track-minded Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which now vows that its fight is far from over:
Judging from his call to war, we can look forward to more human-interest stories from the Associated Press with cherry-picked quotes at hot spots close to Camp Lejeune and Edwards Air Force Base.
The gay mill never stops. Last March, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Respect for Marriage Act, and on July 19, Barack Obama suddenly supported it, which led to hours of deliberation about gay marriage on the Senate floor even as talks between Congress and the president about the debt ceiling went nowhere.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit is filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against the Annoka-Hennepin School District over its failure to affirm homosexuality in the classroom.
In the Midwest, controversy still boils about Michele and Marcus Bachmann's clinic, causing a group of homosexuals to dress up like barbarians and attack the Minnesota counseling office with glitter. Conservative gay leader Chris Barron asks the gay left to calm down, which leads to an angry pushback in the Advocate from Lucas Grindley.
Controversy lingers over Dan Savage's and Jon Stewart's childish accusations that Marcus Bachmann is a closeted homosexual. Dan Savage admits on Bill Maher's set that he fantasizes about raping Rick Santorum until a frothy fluid leaks out of the latter's orifices. The next day, Dan Savage claims he was drunk when he said all Republicans should die, but it is too late, because Rick Santorum goes on the radio to condemn Dan Savage for his "filth."
This is, by the way, the Dan Savage chosen by the organizers of New York City's Gay Pride Parade to serve as Grand Marshall. He has custody of an adopted son. (Would I approve of an adoption agency giving custody of a little girl to a straight man who got drunk, lost control of what he was saying, and went on national television to admit he fantasized about raping a famous woman until fluids leaked out of her?)
California makes more gay news, requiring that social studies classes in public schools celebrate the achievements of gays in history, which means we all have to get ready for quiz questions like "did Walt Whitman come out to his parents?" and "was Juvenal's Second Satire about ex-gays or leather daddies?"
Even the most tolerant person on Earth must feel the urge to scream: Enough!
In most studies, sociologists estimate that gays and lesbians make up around 2% of the adult population. Most attention involves gay men rather than lesbians anyway. Why the overload?
A Brief History Lesson
Galvanized after 1969, gays and lesbians broke with thousands of years of history to turn what was classified as a mental disorder into a respected identity. In the late 1980s and 1990s, confronted with AIDs, organizers following the strategy of Gay Men's Health Crisis built a national infrastructure of community centers, volunteer agencies, and local clinics, for which they may take stellar credit.
But a rival movement based on the philosophy of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACTUP) exploited the public's morbid fascination with gay scandal and ended up monopolizing media attention. The ACTUP slogan of the early 1990s was "Silence=Death." For ACTUP, visibility was key and the greatest danger was to be unmentioned. ACTUP's temperament predominated and the movement became obsessed with getting in the news by pushing legislation and provoking high-profile court cases.
The New Blacks or the New Jews?
I made it clear on my website that a boomerang risk looms large for gays. To get a sense of how overexposure can backfire, consider the widespread coverage devoted to Jewish issues circa 2006. That summer all I saw on CNN at the gym, and all I heard on talk radio, was Jewish news. There was a war between Israel and Hezb'allah; Democrats and Republicans were competing with each to show their devotion to Israel, lest they appear weak in the upcoming midterms. Mel Gibson was stopped by the police and went on an anti-Semitic rant; this got more coverage than Dan Savage gets today. Back then, Elie Wiesel was still quoted often in public discourse; Holocaust films like The Pianist had been sweeping awards ceremonies for the better part of a decade, leading Spike Lee to make the controversial statement, "for a period of over 10 years, almost every film that won best feature-length documentary was about the Holocaust," for which there was a round of recriminations, accusations, and mea culpas.
Then came the publication of The Israel Lobby. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt presented theses that would have seemed like heresy only a few years earlier, such as that only the Israel "lobby has managed to divert [discussion] as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country -- in this case, Israel -- are essentially identical," and "the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around."
Because John Mearsheimer was a professor at the University of Chicago, his slam on the so-called "Israel lobby" was difficult to dismiss as Mel Gibsonesque anti-Semitic rantings.
The notion of a Jewish cabal of power-brokers manipulating American foreign policy is rather hyperbolic, but it went from being verboten to a sine qua non among many on the left, including a great many Jewish liberals. The illusion of an all-powerful Israel lobby made phony resistance to said lobby all the sexier. In 2010, an organization called "Jews against Apartheid" organized a conference in Detroit, Michigan, with the explicit goal "to overcome Zionism and decolonize Palestine."
The crescendo for me was the Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide Conference, where I unwisely presented work on multiculturalism in the military. One of the plenaries culminated in David Lloyd goading a gymnasium full of radicals from every part of the globe to unite against Israel -- not to rest until boycotts, divestments, and sanctions finally ended the state entirely. My Jewish friend, sitting beside me, had a panic attack when hordes of people of color all but screamed for Jewish blood. I drove him back to his hotel room. He popped Xanax. Crying, he told me, "They always turn on us." This was hosted by the University of California at Riverside, a state-supported institution.
Not long afterwards, the University of Johannesburg's academic senate voted to cut ties to Ben-Gurion University in what many academics viewed as the start of a potentially crippling blockade of Israeli colleges. American intellectuals such as Judith Butler signed the petition.
How did things change so quickly?
I would suggest that there was no cabal commanding the press to push aside important news for human-interest stories about gays or Jews.
For emotional reasons, both Jews and gays have served as vehicles for liberal Democrats to show their generosity. Once these small groups engaged the two-party system and implicitly picked a side, they became a card played in rhetorical wars that often had nothing to do with them. The Jews then felt a backlash which they were not prepared for. Small in number, both in the Middle East and in the United States, Jews never had the all-encompassing power that the public at large imputed to them.
Gays beware. While it may seem that sympathy runs high for homosexual causes right now, people will start to feel annoyed. They will ask, why should I care? Or even worse: Why are gays constantly demanding that I care? And then comes the closer scrutiny of the movement's claims, which can lead to a dramatic reversal akin to what happened with public support for Israel. The gay cause depends on scientists at some point proving that homosexuality is an innate trait that cannot be modified; for if this claim is disproved, then gay is no longer what you are but what you choose to do, and there is no gay constituency for gay activists to fight for. Like Israel, gays enter rhetoric with their entire existential claims vulnerable.
Up until now, it has been a sacred code among leftists never to question the axiom, "I was born this way." But see what Gary Greenburg writes in the leftist Mother Jones today: "If science proves sexual orientation is more fluid than we've been led to believe, can homosexuality still be a protected right?" You don't ask questions like that unless you know the answer.
Much can unravel. Everyday Americans, even Democrats, will not take long to notice how white, male, and privileged the gay activist leadership is. Soon they will wonder whether gay adoption is a good idea, should it become a mercantile system designed to meet the needs of wealthy but childless gay men rather than a last-resort solution for needy orphans. Then they will start to ask themselves if marriage equality laws and the Tyler Clementi Act are a bit intrusive -- even unconstitutional -- and they will feel that they've been duped by a "Gay Lobby" into surrendering their free speech and enabling an exploitative system of surrogacy and trafficking of infants. Alas, they may one day wake up and say, "They lied to me." When that day comes, run for the hills.
Robert Oscar Lopez is the author of The Colorful Conservative: American Conversations with the Ancients from Wheatley to Whitman (Rowman & Littlefield's University Press of America, 2011). He can be found at www.colorfulconservative.com.
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