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No White Flag
06/26/2003

When I read the following paragraph in John Derbyshire's column yesterday, I started the clock for the incredulous Andrew Sullivan dismissal:

In this sense, the problem is not homosexuals or homosexuality. I am sure that God loves homosexuals and has a purpose for them. (I even think that their prowess in the "caring professions" offers some clue as to what that purpose might be.) The problem is the sexual revolution. The problem is hedonism. The problem is the preening vanity and selfishness of "coming out," of parading private inclinations, of a kind that repel normal people, as if those inclinations were, all by themselves, marks of authenticity and virtue, of suffering and oppression. A large part of the problem, too, is "heterophobia" — the dislike, mistrust, and contempt which many homosexuals feel towards normal people.

Well, the clock's still running, but I thought I'd mention my certainty that many an angry homosexual would be quick to rail at what they'll see as Derb's suggestion that "gays get back in the closet" in the context of Robert Knight's response to Jonah Goldberg's "Surrender, Fellow Conservatives" column (note: that's not the real title):

Mr. Goldberg, who disparaged the French people as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," and has written some witty stuff from time to time, suggests that it is time for us to pull down the flag and surrender to "gay" militants. In the face of a velvet onslaught from less than 2 percent of the population, he counsels conservatives to make "some painful capitulations - intellectual, moral, philosophical and financial."

I don't know about the cheese part, but Mr. Goldberg seems himself to have warmed to the role of "surrender monkey."

He then asks homosexual activists to show "magnanimity in victory." To paraphrase Bugs Bunny, "he don't know them very well, do he?"

In response to Knight, Ramesh Ponnuru comes to Jonah's defense in the Corner with this:

Robert Knight's screed against Jonah would be a lot more persuasive if a) he suggested a plausible strategy by which gay marriage or civil unions could be stopped or b) his own career of fighting gay rights had shown any success.

His first "if" would be valid, perhaps, if the Goldberg column to which Knight had been responding had offered any suggested strategies of its own. It did not; it merely cited evidence that the battle was over. This applies partially to the second "if" as well. What difference does Knight's personal success make? Some might argue that this bit of data only indicates that he needs reinforcements or a new strategy to keep the fight going.

And as for the subtle (unintentional?) propagandic slur that Knight has been "fighting gay rights," that could have come directly from an Andrew Sullivan rant. Ah... there's the connection. Goldberg seems always, when arguing with Sullivan, not to neglect to mention their friendship. It's all too muddy to sketch as yet (at least to me), but I just can't shake the "club" feeling — the sense that all of these arguments about society-changing (sometimes society-threatening) topics are merely games of squash to the byliners. I'd like to see, for example, some comment of this quick note on Sullivan's site:

RELATED ADVERTIZING LINKS: You know opponents of equal marriage rights are in trouble when an editorial against them is followed by ads touting "Casual Civil Unions in Vermont" and "In Depth: Homophobia." And in the Washington Times no less! The market trumps ideology every time.

The ads appear to have changed, although I did note that similar ad links are located at the bottom of Goldberg's column for today. But what's important here is that Sullivan is getting his surprised giggle from the fact that the Washington Times accepted advertisements (and somebody thought to pay for the ads) contrary to an editorial position. Consider that in light of Knight's list of instances of the homosexual lobby not being "magnanimous," particularly this one:

[Goldberg] doesn't mention the man who took out an ad in a Saskatchewan newspaper listing five Bible verses about homosexuality. The man was fined $4,500, as was the publisher. The money was awarded to three homosexual men who didn't like the ad.

Also consider it in light of the fact that the pro-gay-marriage argument of the week among conservatives (including Sullivan) was that the relative numbers simply made it impossible for gay marriage to adversely affect marriage as a whole. It seems to me that conservative defenders of gay marriage (or capitulators thereto) have painted themselves into a corner (no pun intended): they argue that the number of homosexuals precludes influence, but they also argue that the homosexual lobby's influence is too strong to resist. Little wonder that they have fallen back on imploring gays to be "magnanimous."

Sullivan, today, declares breathlessly (in response to the Supreme Court's sodomy ruling), "I can feel freedom dawning in this land again. The struggle of so many for so long is beginning to come true. What a privilege, what a joy, to be alive to witness it." I don't know that I've ever read Sullivan offer a magnanimous note. Any argument that advances his cause is fair game. Even assuming that he'll be a voice against his fellow homosexuals' going too far with their advantage (and I, for one, am not willing to give him that kind of credit in advance), his strategy amounts to pushing the boulder over the cliff and then worrying about what it'll land on.

Me, I'm worried. I'm pretty sure that I've lost readers as well as the good will of some influential bloggers over this issue. Even allowing for the possibility that I'm not seeing ways in which my arguments are unreasonable, I cannot for the life of me discern any inclination among many opinion makers to even consider possible consequences of the dramatic social change that is being foisted upon us, whether their motivation is ideological or sociocentric.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 12:18 PM EST