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The Moral Inversion of Solidarity
Are you a minority? If so, to whom do you belong?
If you ask me there is a very big difference between gay and homosexual. Just as there is a very big difference between Protestants and Catholic. The difference between Progressive and liberal is substantial as well. To my mind the primary difference is one of persuasive evangelism. In each case there is a pose adopted for the purpose of activism that puts forth an identity and a set of arguments designed to be moral carrots and sticks. It’s like that in most places, except the places I want to be.
The presumption that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God is a fundamental tenet of Christianity. Catholics assume it, as do Protestants. What Catholics do not do is come knocking on your door or yell through street corner megaphones demanding repentance. The Catholic Church has come from a haughty position in that and suffer from some internal consternation at their inability to save the planet, but they also recognize the extent to which their hauteur has caused schisms in the past and deflated their role in serving humanity. They have been chastened by their overweening ambition and despite the fact that the genuine sentiment remains to serve the body of Christ, aka all Christendom, they live with themselves and their popery quite well. The Catholic Church is mature about these matters. The Sistine Chapel remains beautiful.
When I think about the difference between homosexuals and gays, the angle is different of course. In Gay Pride, there is a certain politicization and a certain expository matter to bring to the public’s attention. The most sterling and stirring examples of this that I received in my youth in the form of two films. The first was ‘Paris is Burning’ whose particular aesthetic was popularized by Madonna and ‘Tongues Untied’ by the filmmaker Marlon Riggs went deeper still. Since I have always held an admiration for priests, spies and others sworn to secrecy, I have always been a bit skeptical of those who take every opportunity to capitalize on the personal. I reject the activist premise ‘The personal is political.’ In most every respect, I find humility and modesty to be virtuous although never at the expense of truth. As exceptional bearers of truth, the artists behind these films have left the right kind of mark on me. As a combination of these and other values, I took a particular exception to yesteryears cultural combat over the matter of Gay Marriage which had me defending every homosexual act imaginable and opposing most political advocates on their activism. We can get into that detail at some point in the future - it is a controversy that has yet to be resolved, the self-satisfaction of the legislative reformers has done little from my POV to move the public towards a genuine appreciation for homosexual love and domestic tranquility. The bull has left that particular china shop and moved on to other venues.
The aim of the activist bull is the same, to identify a pet interest (or a pet people) and trash everything else in solidarity with their troubles. This creates the sort of symbiosis that rarely survives the political ambition that spawned it. If we are to become a society that remembers campaign promises and commercials more than we remember art, then doom is not far off.
It is the matter of art which speaks truth not merely to power but to all of humanity that I find irreplaceable. This stands in stark contrast to the politics that merely seeks the power to manipulate law, government and mass communications to the requirements of their demands. When I speak of intellectual heterodoxy I do seek to remake the political landscape of this republic, but I want it from society itself. Society does not get into office and change things for the better, it has only managed to grab attention and power in a fleeting manner without competently managing our clumsy and inept bureaucracies. So we all try for some kind of social justice out here in the cheap seats. I say there’s something wrong with the evangelical ambitions of our power grabbing political thinking that functions so rabidly in these dark days. Of course wisdom and heterodoxy get crowded out. Of course each American generation feels compelled to be a people apart.
I think I know how this hunger works. I call it the blessing of the marginal gift. Here is how you avoid it.
If you believe that you cannot cheat an honest man, then you would find that the honest man will not respond to your entreaties. If a man truly believes that his honest work is the sum of his moral contribution to society and that his integrity is to be found solely there, then he becomes that honest man. A charlatan cannot sell him the Brooklyn Bridge. A counterfeiter cannot sell him a fake watch. A flatterer cannot sell him phony honor. A whore cannot sell him false love. No priest, poet or politician can sell him the kingdom of heaven, peace of mind or prosperity in our time. The honest man simply cannot be sold, and thusly he cannot be cheated.
We know there are a class of activists, ranters and enablers who are hell-bent on chaining America to their ambitions. Their vision of ‘progress’ is tied to their continual push beyond a reasonable pluralism to a hard-edged multicultural multigenderism whose purported enemy tends to look like Tom Hanks. One might have thought the neutrality established in Lawrence v Texas would have calmed eager souls, but there is always more power worth grabbing if you are a political partisan.
In more recent times I think we can say with confidence that the attempt to reclassify large swaths of Americas as ‘BIPOC’ or ‘Latinx’ have been stunning in their insidious brashness and ignominious failure. But there are more shells in that political shotgun aimed generally at The [cis-normative, evil, white] Man. Please excuse me if I don’t use all of their excruciating terminology, but we all know the outline of the ducks in their iron sights and the sting of their birdshot.
Whether it is duck season or wabbit season, the single minded Fudds continue their hunt. What we should be on the lookout for is the shape of their disguises and the nature of their decoys. Their general trick is to identify some ostensibly persecuted minority lacking privilege and pretend that everyone not dedicated and consecrated to their identity-based political strategy is a defacto enemy, aiding and giving comfort to The Man. Their domain is the aggregation of voices, votes and victories. They allow for no abstentions, no indifference, no ignorance, no dissent, no defiance, and no science. This is the kind of immaturity that breeds the tantrums we have become familiar with in these pandemic days. And while it stands to reason that I am concerned with the poisoning and dumbing down of the Left which originated in what I perceived to be the failure of the loyal opposition in my conservative days, the same mendacious childishness plagues the American Right. The Right’s particular dysfunction shares the same ambitious activism, wacky idiocy and hardhearted soullessness as that of the activist Left. Same disingenuous power grabbing, different conspiracy theories and fetished targets. Most egregious of these is treating the incompetence of the public sector as if COVID itself were a postmodern social construction designed specifically to cow Americans into penury and servitude. Where is the vaunted capacity of the private sector and the True Patriot? The Right is going pomo too.
I honestly think that America suffers more from the dysfunctional Left than the dysfunctional Right, primarily because I don’t like the sort of contagion that puts much of our higher education at risk and the role that the so-called liberal media plays in that. But until we get a few Operations Research professionals into Congress, we’re still heading in the general direction of Chile. Not that many of us are noticing what goes on there or in the Ukraine. Chile and the Ukraine are not our navels, and there’s nothing MSNBC talking heads could sell to today’s dumbed down politicized mainstream on those subjects.
Solidarity with the benighted American ‘minority’ du jour is the new game in town. Whatsoever evil we are presumed to do to those, the least of our brothers, is the new sin. There are two kinds of minorities. One of them is the truth-bearing sort who aim to be even-handed with everyone. The others are the darlings of an activist elite whose reality is flattened in service of a political narrative. You and I must continue to strive to be the first sort despite the temptations of becoming the latter. So resist the pet identity dimensions of race, class and gender. Instead be defenders of laws and principles that are blind to these petty distinctions. Defend all of humanity in its pluralism in open societies. These places may shrink but we will concentrate there.
Solidarity with all mankind is my status quo, and so I will continue to defend freedom of thought and civil liberty while watching activism for special minorities with a skeptical eye.