6 Silly Narratives About the Gay Marriage Ruling and the Confederate Flag Flap

confederate-gay-flag

What, the world is still standing? After the Confederate flag started coming down and the rainbow flag started popping up in a single week, the word on the street was that The Final Days were at hand. Although the two developments had little if anything in common, the same reactionaries tended to react to both, and in a similar fashion. And they did their damnedest to squeeze both into a cohesive narrative of degeneration, persecution, oppression, and ominousness.

If you thought the cultural purge over the Confederate flag was breathtaking — wait until you see what LGBT activists do with Christians.  (Todd Starnes of Fox “News”)

Talk show host Bryan Fischer, who evidently can get better drugs than you can, commented about the Court’s ruling, “I saw Satan dancing with delight”. And of the backlash against the Confederate flag he said:

If we are going to remove symbols of oppression from our culture, if we come to the point where we say any flag that represents bigotry, any flag that represents hatred, any flag that represents slavery or oppression needs to be removed, then I want to suggest to you that the next flag to go ought to be the rainbow flag of the Gay Reich.

Fischer is a one-person Bartlett’s of loony right-wing soundbites. As is this guy:

This could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – that camel being the up till now silent, passive Americans who have been cowed into “tolerating” societal changes that go counter to their fundamental beliefs (Allen West)

These people have been silent and passive up until now??? Heaven knows what kind of earplugs we’re going to need if they ever decide to start mouthing off. West and Fischer didn’t go it alone, of course, but had plenty of other people echoing their inflammatory rhetoric.

“Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history”, lamented Ted Cruz to Sean Hannity of fairandbalanced Fox “News”, who promptly agreed, “I couldn’t have said it more eloquently”. (All too true, alas.) Which presumably puts this ruling right up there with Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, and the same court’s hijacking of the presidential election in 2000.

Some individuals mused about what would happen if a gay couple wanted to put a Confederate flag on their wedding cake — would the baker have to oblige? Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. This is a simple conflation of a hypothetical refusal to portray a certain image on a cake with a hypothetical refusal to serve an entire class of citizens.

Other responses to these disparate events didn’t necessarily try deliberately to bundle them together, but did often place them on parallel tracks. Here are six of the most frequent narratives.

Silly Narrative #1: It’s an anti-American thing

Many Americans responded joyously to the news of the Supreme Court’s decision by decking out their Facebook pages with the rainbow flag. Not to be outdone, many right-wing reactionaries responded in protest by draping their pages with the American flag. Huh??? How exactly is that supposed to be a protest? Is it intended to suggest that gays aren’t really Americans? Not even James Buchanan, a gay U.S. president who was elected more than 150 years ago? If they are Americans, how can it be un-American for them to get married?

The reactionaries also denounced it as un-American that some people aren’t in love with the Confederate battle banner. Just try wrapping your head around that one for a moment.  The Confederacy, lest we forget, was a treasonous faction that fought  an extremely bloody war against the United States Of America, brandishing this very flag – a battle fought primarily (contrary to revisionist spin) for the “right” to enslave and oppress an entire race. (Note that the iconic X-flag so often displayed was not the official national flag of the Confederacy itself, but a flag specifically designed for military forces.) Yet now, many self-proclaimed “patriots” proudly celebrate their Dixie “heritage” by exhibiting this symbol of bigotry, tyranny, insurrection and violence alongside the Stars and Stripes they claim to revere.

Silly Narrative #2. It’s a government overstepping thing

How dare the government try to dictate to us what flags we can and cannot fly? Well, don’t look now, but the big bad guvmint has done no such thing. What did happen was that the government of South Carolina, via due democratic  process, resolved to stop rubbing its “proud tradition” of insurrection and oppression in the public’s face, and no longer fly the Dixie rag on government property. And a few retail chains decided, of their own volition, to stop selling such emblems, at a loss in profits to themselves – the free enterprise system at its finest. But nobody is trying to tell you that you can’t fly that flag in your own yard or stick it under the gun rack on the back of your pickup or even tattoo the damn thing on your scrotum if you choose to.

And the Supreme Court decision? Though reactionaries have almost unanimously bemoaned that the Court has “redefined” marriage, it has done no such thing; what it has done is extend the right to get married to all Americans. Don’t look now, but governments at various levels have been dictating for a long time who can and can’t get married. The Supreme Court just put an end to that. You’d think that anti-guvmint fanatics would be out dancing in the streets along with Satan rather than bitching and wringing their hands over the impending End Of The World As We Know It.

Silly Narrative # 3: It’s a political correctness/ liberal tyranny thing

Ah yes, political correctness. It’s been the source of many wretched excesses, hasn’t it? Actually, it would be very hard to find a single example of supposed “political correctness” or “liberal hypocrisy” that pans out to be anything like it’s portrayed by right-wing reactionaries – who never bother to define what political correctness is really supposed to be. We just gather that it’s something often perpetrated by them librulz – who are never really defined either. But apparently both are identified with progressives and the Democratic Party, which sometimes at least makes a pretense of being progressive.  And that makes the reactions to recent events very curious indeed.

Right-wing reactionaries are very fond of reminding us, when it suits their purposes, that it was the “Democrat” Party that was on the wrong side of slavery and the Civil War – and pretending that the two parties haven’t changed a whit in the interim.  The governor of South Carolina who spearheaded the movement to remove the Confederate flag form the capitol, Nikki Haley, is herself a Republican. (She’s also a native of her state, contrary to assertions by the eternally clueless Ann Coulter.) As is a solid majority of the state legislature that voted to back her up.

Meanwhile, many of these reactionaries would prefer to forget that there are a good many gay Republicans (though it’s hard to fathom why), and even an official organization for them, the Log Cabin Republicans. Furthermore, the Supreme Court justice who cast the tie-breaking vote to legalize gay marriage was appointed by none other than St. Ronald himself.

Silly Narrative # 4: It’s a First Amendment/ religious freedom thing

Even though nobody is saying that you can’t buy or fly a flag (see above), some people see the recent reactions to its presence as, somehow or other, an incursion against freedom of expression. Evidently, that freedom is supposed to apply only to people who love the Rebel banner, not to those who don’t.

If you think that’s batty, try this: many of them also believe that the court’s ruling damages, somehow or other , “religious freedom”.  Both reactions seem to be predicated on the notion that freedom is a finite commodity; and whatever you grant to one person, you must take from someone else. They see no irony in proclaiming that gay marriage tramples their First Amendment rights because their religious beliefs should dictate the actions of everyone; and they forget, if they ever knew, that not so terribly long ago, Good Christians believed that God gave them the right to fly their Confederate flags over their slave shacks.

Okay, we get it:  many fundamentalists hate “Sodomites”. No, wait, we mustn’t put it that way. It’s really all God’s fault – He’s the one who’s declared that they’re “sinners”, and so the fundies are just following His wishes by condemning them. Yeah, that’s the ticket. And while they can’t prove it by quoting Jesus, who never seems to have gotten around to mentioning homosexuality at all, they can pull up an out-of-context injunction from the Bronze Age code laid out in the Old Testament that seems to support their cause –while ignoring even more draconian passages from the same book, including one that instructs them to sell their daughters into slavery.

Well, guess what? If hating fags – oops, mustn’t use that word – if condemning fags unto hellfire is part of your religious bag, you’re under no obligation to stop it just on account of 9 guys and gals in black robes.  You don’t have to like gays or gaydom. You don’t have to perform or attend gay weddings. You don’t have to enter into a gay marriage yourself. You don’t even have to give up your own marriage.

Please note, however, that this does not mean you always can use religion as a shield against the responsibilities of doing your job; most employers either want you to do your duties, quit, or be dismissed. This is particularly true if your employer happens to be a government entity, because government entities in the U.S. are committed, officially at least, to non-discrimination.  You have the option to comply with that commitment or step aside and make room for someone who will. But it’s entirely your choice, not an assault on your “religious freedom”.

Here’s a helpful tip, free of charge. If you really and truly believe that gay weddings somehow infringe on your religious freedom, then maybe it’s really, really time you started shopping around for a new religion.

Silly Narrative # 5: It’s a slippery slope thing

The “slippery slope” is one of the favorite tropes of the reactionary crowd to just about anything they don’t approve of.  Rarely do any of those things actually involve a bona fide slippery slope – don’t hold your breath until wingers get their thongs in a bunch over environmental desecration, for instance. But the decision to remove the Rebel banner from government property and certain retail outlets? Totally different thing, doncha know. After all, let THEM, whoever they are, snatch away the Confederate flag, however exactly they’re doing that, and they’re certain to do the same to the flag of the Confederacy’s enemy number one. Makes sense in a very nonsensical sort of way.

The pants-pissing over gay marriage is even more intensely Jeremiah-ish. For a long time, the reactionaries have been warning that if gays are allowed the same rights and rites as us unperverted folk, it well lead to all sorts of sexual aberration: polygamy (you know, like certain right-wing Mormons), bestiality, pedophilia, marrying your sofa, etc, etc.

Some people in the Alex Jones/Glenn Beck brigade are even warning, with cobbled evidence too scant to even qualify as tenuous, that pedophiles already have been inspired to make a drive toward legitimizing their thing under the same logic that gays have legitimized theirs. Well hey, it wouldn’t be unheard of for fringe groups to try to capitalize on a court case; but it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll succeed in that laughable endeavor.  They’d have to make it past the courts. And courts, however radical, will surely understand that there is a big difference between matrimony involving two consenting adults and predatory behavior toward minors. Almost everybody understands that. Even right-wing reactionaries understand that. Don’t they?

Silly Narrative # 6: It’s a (insert inappropriate analogy) thing

Naturally, one way to convince people how terrible these two events were was to compare them to other things that people already know are terrible. We’ve already seen how some commentators suggested that “banning” the Confederate flag (which Bill O’Reilly said stands for “bravery”) will almost certainly lead to “banning” the U.S. flag. Chairman of the South Carolina League of the South Pat Hines, meanwhile, characterized the movement to remove the flag from his state’s capitol as “cultural genocide”, while a certain perennially pompous radio talk show host declared it was all about “destroying the South as a political force”.

When it comes to excoriating court rulings they don’t like, wingers have a favorite whipping boy that they frequently juxtapose with Roe V. Wade:

What if no one had acted in disobedience to the Dred Scott decision of 1857? What if the entire country had capitulated to judicial tyranny and we just said that because the Supreme Court said in 1857 said that a black person wasn’t fully human… (Mike Huckabee)

It hardly could be a worse comparison. The Dred Scott ruling limited the freedom of an entire class of people while the current ruling expands the freedom of an entire class of people.

And there was a whole truckload of other inappropriate comparisons, including these:

Next we’ll get the arena and the lions, get the arena and the lions and bring them in from Tunisia.  (Michael Savage)

Essentially, this is gay Sharia … “Love” has won; now it’s time to shoot the prisoners– (columnist John Zmirak)

I fear for our country, quite frankly, because this is a spiritual 9/11. (Tim Wildmon, American Family Association)

I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch.  (Mike Huckabeeagain)

June 26, 2015: a date which will live in infamy. (Bryan Fischer, yet again)

What’s next? What’s next is what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. It is just a question of how soon the wrath of God is going to come on this land. (Pat Robertson)

And of course when all else fails, there’s always a certain short dictator with a funny mustache:

…the parallels to Germany in the Thirties… when German people had no idea where this was really going to end up… (talk show host Eric Metaxas

Are you okay with a baker saying that he’s not going to make any goods for a Nazi party rally? (Bill O’Reilly)

Another obligatory tactic is to suggest that rejection of intolerance constitutes intolerance itself, at least as intolerant as the intolerance it isn’t tolerating. Forty percent of the American public still disapproves of gay marriage, the reactionaries say, so why shouldn’t their wishes be respected too? Would they say the same if forty percent disapproved of interracial or interfaith marriage? Besides, who says their wishes aren’t being respected? Nobody’s forcing them into a gay marriage. (See above.)

Well, here we are two months later, and Obama’s storm troopers still haven’t raided anyone’s house to search for Dixie flags or hetero marriage licenses. Nobody has married their alpaca or DVD player. And God hasn’t unleashed a plague of locusts on America. In fact, the results of these two actions have been overwhelmingly positive; while there have been zero negative consequences. Get back to me in 20 years if any of that changes.

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5 thoughts on “6 Silly Narratives About the Gay Marriage Ruling and the Confederate Flag Flap

  1. By “Political Correctness” I believe they are referring towards taboos against degrading words (which I admit doesn’t decreases racism)nor criticism towards ethnic minorities in History and present as well as making White positions in History inherentally evil (ergo reverse racism). Also a more “extreme” point of view would go towards suppressing evidence of Racial Statistics, which while can give valid results can be distorted often due to political ideology and lack of scientific reevaluation

    Now while I do believe in a South’s side of the story not being given enough light is a valid position for free speech, reviewing cases like Emmet Till and the Nelsons in Oklahoma prevents me to take a full apologetic stance. Another thing is that while Political Correctness against taking criticisms towards things like Ferguson or Baltimore or negative effects that can happen that are common in immigration influxes, Tribalism that can spawn from this shit can only make things worse.

    P.O.P, can you give me a decent idea of your experience/research for the South and U.S Race relations because while I do see your utilization of feelings and info, I lack an accurate portrayal on your knowledge. I’m by know means trying to offend by saying this, but it (and I stress the next word) almost as if you have a bias against the south but that’s only what I’m hearing. Also I would like to know if you agree or have criticisms towards how diversity is handled in America.

    • I don’t consider these questions particularly relevant, but I’ll nonetheless answer briefly. I was born and raised in the Deep South, and still spend a fair amount of time there from time to time. While attitudes overall have certainly changed for the better since I was a kid, there are still strong remnants of the old mentality. As for the diversity issue, that’s much too complicated to address here.

      • Well thank you for your answers and I apologizes if I over step things, and for that I want to explain myself.

        I’m upper middle class, smart, respect others, but ever since the beginning of this year I’ve stressed with stigmas against blacks. It’s like everywhere I go that “we’re” at the bottom of the barrel no matter what “we” do in every country. No I learned of individuals and met individuals in the U.S and from else where who are different from the stereotype, but stats don’t lie and I’m concern. People like me aren’t considered “black”, we’re called exceptions (someone called my brother one once).

        I have a cousin who has issues like a stereotype would; got a girl pregnant, went to jail, smoke weed but fortunately has a job currently (but possibly lacks direction). My mom works with troubled children and adults and she said that when by cousin was younger he wasn’t like those kids and could EASILY be successful, but sadly got into this rut.

        On the same note I once new a Black student who shared a bus with me, in JROTC, good kid and was a splitting image of my cousin from my memory. It’s like my cousin could’ve been like him.

        I hope this can explain why the way I am, and it’s only fair since I didn’t knew you were from the South and I went too personal regarding the topic.

  2. Since I have a relative who is a born again Christian, I have come to realize that the religious right’s position on gay marriages, comes from and intensely emotional and specifically idealised interpretation of love and marriage. But while Jesus did mention that, “male and female he made them.” and alluded to the fact that this is the way life’s meant to perpetuate itself, that certainly doesn’t equate to believing that only specific types of intimacy and commitments are valid ways of loving another. Even if our male, female procreation is held as the “most” normal, gay marriage will not change that biological fact, except that more children will be conceived with in vitro conception and more parentless children will be adopted–providing them the basic structure of having a home which they are a unique part of, and strengthening social stability. And obviously if we define male-female, unions only in regards to creating biologically conceived offspring, then that eliminates, couples who are infertile or who use birth control prevent conceiving children.

    In regards to the deeply felt emotional belief that only men and women are capable of being part of a loving relationship which then exclusively promotes faithfulness and family unity, I must say that I am sympathetic, but in a democracy we can’t base our laws on what most people feel is true, or passionately believe in! As you point out POP, this is because our freedom does not include dictating only one lifestyle, sexual orientation, or political philosophy we prefer, and thus force it on others, by way of denying their 14th and 1st amendment rights. But what religious families must realize is that no one can really change how they feel about God and life, by passing any legislation–we may have our behaviors restricted, or our zeal about dictating truth to others, suppressed, but, no law says we cannot continue to think the things we want to think and pass them on to our children. All Parents will continue to be free to raise their children according to any moral beliefs they want. However, of course, we can’t start throwing virgins into volcanoes or refuse medicine to our children because we earnestly believe God will heal them–there comes a time when a democratic system must be concerned with the rights of everyone, while acknowledging some very good and practical ways to prevent the abuses of a minority at the hands of a majority—or in fact—at the hands of any group of people who insist the sun should rise and set according to their beliefs. I may hate republicans with a purple passion, but It’s not my right or duty to prevent them from visiting the polls on election day, or from deciding which sets of religious beliefs or moral they favor.

    Like gay marriage, the confederate flag controversy is one that has basically been contrived in order to further perpetuate the myth that “righteous people” are being repressed, or controlled and picked on, by the big bad guvmint or liberal establishment, as you put it. But if the government ever tried to close down anyone’s churches of tell their preachers what to preach, the ACLU would back them up before they could even think of the word freedom.

    The fact that gays can now marry is really a victimless crime that does not prevent me—not by a whit—from loving who I love, or worshiping as I believe—but it does not enable me to put down others on the basis of believing that only what I hold dear, is or should be, also be held dear by others. Likewise, as you point out POP, anyone may continue to fly the confederate flag on their front porch or have it stitched onto his or her scrotum—they just are not able to enable government agencies to favor displaying it on government property— since that provides the obvious (or to some) the subtle message that our laws and government favor the politics and social beliefs of the confederacy. Without our government asserting this simple and practical truth, then we very well might begin seeing chinese, Russian, gay rainbow flags, and perhaps even the jolly roger at our state capitols–(talk about a slippery slope)!

    Sometimes we have to place limits on the few to protect the liberties of the many. Selling a wedding cake is only selling a wedding cake, not endorsing any particular lifestyle or sexual orientation? Until a bakery owner is kidnapped by a gay couple, and forced to watch their wedding ceremony, that store owner should not have his day in court by claiming that his or her beliefs, have been violated. But up until then, allowing him to refuse selling a cake to a gay couple, is no more virtuous than refusing to bake one for a Jewish couple on the basis that Jesus is not recognized as the messiah by Jews.
    It hard to know exactly where the balance should be set at times, but certainly another’s conception of a sacred union, does not mean another person must conform with that conception. My feelings do not trump those of yours, as long as both of us are simply striving to love someone else. But they do conflict once I presume to have the right tell you what your feelings should be!

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