The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Sunday, April 12, 2015

One More Thought About Dreher

I've already said my piece abut Rod Dreher's massive overreaction to the notion that pro-GLBT rights people will use their First Amendment rights to criticize individuals and businesses who express their own opposition to marriage equality.

On reflection, I have a few additional thoughts, which I am adding because it troubles me to see the usually thoughtful Dreher, like some others, become so obdurate and viscerally angry on a subject that is only incidentally about religion or theology.

Underlining his thinking in the pieces I linked Thursday are, I believe two errors that undermine his arguments quite substantially.

First, Tribalism. Dreher exults in a "win" for a Catholic school teacher disciplined for ant-gay Facebook posts (she began a post "See, this is the agenda" and stated "they want to reengineer Western civ into a slow extinction") and the money raised by sympathizers--some who support GLBT equality--for Memories pizza after Yelp commenters posted hostile comments due to an interview in which the proprietor said he would not cater a gay wedding. In both cases, Dreher is gleeful about expression on his side of the argument, while horrified by those who disagree.

In other words, only one side of the discussion has a moral right to be aired for Dreher. It's all about cultural hegemony for him.

This bespeaks the second error. An absolute failure of the moral imagination. In the post I quoted Thursday, Dreher even analogized the criticism of businesses and individuals who opposed SSM to the Holocaust--carefully not predicting a Holocaust, but claiming the anger came from the same root: "The Holocaust was an extraordinary event. Nobody knows the future, but let me say on the record that I don’t believe we face that. But just because social demonization of the Other only very rarely turns into something like the Holocaust does not mean that it does not exact a terrible cost on the weak."

Invoking the Holocaust against critics of those who support the right of legal equality for a minority group who were a major target of persecution in the actual Holocaust shows that Dreher has really lost the thread here. This is especially so where legal equality has required a long, bitter struggle, and has only recently come into sight. Until United States v. Windsor, federal law mandated unequal treatment of spouses married to members of the same gender in states which had enacted marriage equality. Likewise, until Hollingsworth v. Perry, a state constitutional right to equal marriage could be overturned by ballot initiative. For heaven's sake, until Lawrence v. Texas, gays could be ailed for the crime of consensual sex, while straights had autonomy rights to protect them. Proposition 8, by the way, involved in Hollingsworth, succeeded in part due to the Mormon Church's donations and advocacy, in league with that of the Roman Catholic Church. Along the way, traditionalists have damaged the reputation of Christianity itself.

Despite that, Dreher makes no effort whatsoever to take into account the lived experiences of those whose equality is up for debate, or even to view those with whom he disagrees from a Christian perspective. If he had made such an effort the incredible bad taste and inappropriateness of the analogy would be self-evident. Dreher has internalized, and thus treats as non-controversial, the very othering he complains of--as long as it is limited to gays.

I try to read writers from a different perspective than my own, whether politically or theologically, to see the flaws in my own thinking. I value good disagreement, and have learned from it--there are examples of readers of this blog who have materially enriched my perspective by disagreeing with me.

Dreher needs to hear the other side, and to trust in God, I think, a bit more. Not easy, I admit, when you are losing an argument you believe is critically important. I go to that place of spiky defensiveness, too, and from the other political pole. But Julian of Norwich has it right: "All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well."

(Quotation corrected.)


William R. MacKaye said...

Take another look at the "matter" in your final sentence. In my edition of Showings, Blessed Julian says "manner." Other than that, an excellent post--which means, of course, I agree with it!

William R. MacKaye said...

Take another look at the "matter" in your final sentence. In my edition of Showings, Blessed Julian says "manner." Other than that, an excellent post--which means, of course, I agree with it!

Anglocat said...

Whoops--you're right about manner! Thanks for the catch, and the compliment.