Sunday, June 27, 2010

HOMOPHOBIA, THE REACTIONARY MIND-SET, AND THE ENMESHING OF MOST OF THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH WITH THE POWER ELITE

I just came upon this article entitled, Race Hatred Runs Rampant in Politics These Days, part of which reads as follows:

It's not racist to oppose Obama's policies. And there's plenty for Americans to be angry about - especially since the economy crashed and the federal government has spent trillions of dollars to bail out the fat cats who were responsible. But instead attacking the banksters who nearly destroyed the global economy, we are seeing the familiar scapegoating of non-white, non-male, non-Christian and non-heterosexual Americans as being menaces to our way of life.

There's no shortage of charlatans fanning the flames of extremism without a thought for the consequences. While the worst elements are thankfully small in number, they are given an outsized voice thanks to the need of the cable news channels to fill 24 hours of airtime each day.

The late American diplomat George Kennan once observed that "the counsels of impatience and hatred can always be supported by the crudest and cheapest symbols; for the counsels of moderation, the reasons are often intricate, rather than emotional, and difficult to explain. And so the chauvinists of all times and places go their appointed way: plucking the easy fruits, reaping the little triumphs of the day at the expense of someone else tomorrow, deluging in noise and filth anyone who gets in their way, dancing their reckless dance on the prospects for human progress, drawing the shadow of a great doubt over the validity of democratic institutions. And until peoples learn to spot the fanning of mass emotions and the sowing of bitterness, suspicion, and intolerance as crimes in themselves - as perhaps the greatest disservice that can be done to the cause of popular government - this sort of thing will continue to occur."

Today's America is behaving much like the scenario Kennan describes. The economy is broken, the political system is broken and the public is struggling and angry. The history books are filled with examples of the danger posed by bombastic demagogues who offer both a scapegoat and a solution.


In this connection, I'd like to reprint an edited version of an article that I wrote about two years ago entitled, It's Not About Issues, that seeks to show the role that homophobia plays in serving the Reactionary mind-set of those who align themselves with the Power Elite:

Hostility toward LGBT people has less to do with such issues as same-sex marriage and full and equal rights than it does with a Reactionary mind-set shared by those who have a tenacious adherence to the status quo, as long it they perceive that it profits them. These people are either members of, or allies of, the Power Elite.

The Power Elite is comprised of the people who have a vested interest in the status quo that they control and from which they mightily profit. Moreover, its members, in order to maintain that control, use assorted dupes and those who want to share in that power, even vicariously, in order to support it and its interests, and such dupes and allies include most of the institutional Church and its members, and all others who buy into the self-serving ideology that this Elite purveys through the media which it controls, and through the credibility that it enjoys in society.

The Power Elite possesses a reactionary mind-set as that mind-set serves its own best economic, political, and material interests. However, what is especially ironic and pathetic is that it uses those who lack critical thinking skills to serve its self-interests, making them think that it is their own interests that are being served. Moreover, most of the institutional Church, by the very fact that it is comprised of bureaucracies, attract and promote into leadership positions those who possess this reactionary-mind set!

So, we have professing Christians all too often enmeshing what they consider to be "Christianity" with the militarism, capitalism, Americanism, and jingoism that serve the Power Elite well, and they fuse what is frequently called "evangelical Christianity" with the very interests of the Power Elite, in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus!

And this surreal phenomenon is considered and touted by them to be the hallmark of "traditional," "conservative," "evangelical Christianity!"

And the Power Elite also has as a useful tactic the pitting of one minority group against another, having them cannibalize each other, thereby deflecting attention from its self-serving machinations, and having what is called "conservative Christianity" as providing the supposed biblical and moral justifications for the oppression of the minority group du jour.

In addition, we have the irrational and surreal phenomenon where we have people aligning themselves with the Power Elite by directly working against their own interests, so that we see the spectacle of some African American clergy willing to align themselves with the KKK to oppose same-sex marriage, as seen by Rev. Gregory Daniels who is quoted as having said, "If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them."

The reactionary mind-set of the Power Elite has even infiltrated many other African American clergy and their gullible followers who should certainly know better, so that they perversely use the very same rhetoric, justifications for, and advocacy of, discrimination against LGBT people and their acquisition of full and equal civil rights that were once used against African Americans by the allies and members of the Power Elite, and they are now willfully blind to the fact that it was those "activist judges," "liberals," and courageous people, Black and White, which and whom they now roundly condemn, that made possible the end of slavery and segregation.

We also have the spectacle of Gay people who are against same-sex marriage, or who align themselves with those who actively discriminate against them, such as Gay people who attend and support homophobic churches and their clergy, and/or who otherwise support and align themselves with their avowed political enemies.

The Power Elite is well able to manipulate the all too frequent shame and self-loathing among Gay people, the shame and self-loathing that they and their reactionary "religious" allies have all too successfully created, fomented, and perpetuated, just as it did among the African Americans during the times of Slavery, and later on, Segregation, of which Malcolm X so brilliantly spoke, most notably in his speech describing the difference between the "House Negro" and the "Field Negro."

The "House Negro" was the one who loved his Master, and couldn't do enough for him. If the Master was sick, he'd say, "What's the matter, Master, we sick?" It was this House Negro who found it remarkable when the "Field Negro" expressed resentment against Slavery and the Master.

It was the "Field Negro" who rebelled and, as Malcolm said, "Felt the sting of the lash." Unfortunately, among Gay people, there is the equivalent of the House Negro who is quite content with being treated as an oppressed, second-class citizen, bereft of full and equal civil and sacramental rights that "the Master" enjoys. So, we not only have the spectacle of some Gay people not favoring the right for loving same-sex couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to each other from marrying, but we also have some Gay people who seemingly willfully stick their finger in the eye of potential allies by deliberately dressing in bizarre ways for public consumption, thus reinforcing many negative stereotypes that many Straight people in their naivety have of Gay people.

The same mind-set that has hostility toward LGBT people and their acquisition of full and equal civil and sacramental rights is the mind-set that used what the "religious" reactionary White Supremacists saw in the Bible, and who then selectively used certain verses (usually without understanding the original Greek or the likely context about which those verses were written) in justifying and expressing their savagery against African Americans, both during the institutionalization of Slavery in the U.S., and in the relatively recent past during the era of Segregation and Jim Crow laws.

The same hatred shown toward African Americans in the justification of White Supremacy is the exact same hatred shown toward LGBT people and the justification of heterosexism! Some of the manifestations of that hatred are, of course, different, but the hatred and the justifications for that hatred are exactly the same!

What is important to haters is to maintain their mind-set of exclusion of "the other," their constructed enemy, be that "other" African Americans, women, LGBT people, or whatever enemy they seek to construct so as to maintain both their hegemony in society, and to help assure that the existing social structure continues to favor them and their ideology, an ideology that has relatively little to do with their "Christian" profession, and certainly nothing to do with Christianity itself!

We may see that the hostility "traditional" clergy in the Church of England have toward LGBT rights, such as the ordination of Gay people and same-sex marriage, is seamlessly related to their hostility toward women becoming Bishops, thereby reinforcing the basic misogyny behind much of the homophobia that exists.

The issues aren't women and Gays, per se but, rather, the desire for control within the social structure(s) in which those with the reactionary mind-set find themselves!

We all want some degree of control over our lives, and we want our ideas to be taken seriously by others. However, there is a reactionary mind-set that requires those who possess it to have control over other people, and who thereby seek to impose their self-serving and naked self-interests on the rest of society and/or their denomination, even at the expense and contradiction of their profession of being "Christians" who trust in God, or any other laudable ideology that they profess.

So, we have the bizarre scenario of some Bishops and clergy in the Anglican Communion seeking possible alignment with the Roman Catholic Church, a Church from which their forebears largely dissociated. It is not unlikely that the self-styled "traditionalists" or "conservatives" will now seek some way of affiliating with an organization quite well-known for its comfort with, and institutionalization of, the reactionary mind-set.

Rather than call themselves "Reactionaries" or worse, homophobic professing "Christians" call themselves "evangelicals" or even "Christians," all the while not seeing the basic contradiction between their love of power and their professed love of God!

They can condone, or turn a blind eye to, the torture and killing of others, all the while portraying themselves as "the victims" of those (whom they derisively call "liberals") who seek to stop that torturing and killing; they seek to take the high ground in public discourse, all the while seeking to deprive others of the full and equal civil and sacramental rights that they, themselves, enjoy; they state that they are "traditional Christians," all the while seeking power within their Church and/or society, and not trusting God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of that Church and in that society; in the name of "Christianity" they perversely bow down to Caesar and aid him in maintaining a status quo from which he mightily benefits!

We must finally come to realize that the enemy we are fighting, the enemy that oppresses us does so, not especially because we are women, Black, Italian, Jewish, Mexican, poor, immigrants, or Gay but, rather, that "oppression" is what that enemy, the possessor of that reactionary mind-set, routinely does, and has historically done, to gain and maintain power within society and/or the institutional Church!

Once we understand this phenomenon and how we all have a personal stake in the acquisition of equal rights for members of each and every non-predatory minority group, it will be at that point that all of us who are members of minority groups (and that's most of us in the U.S.) will see our commonality with each other and begin to work together in the fight against our common enemy: the Power Elite (and its allies), comprised of those who possess the Reactionary mind-set and who ferociously seek to maintain their control over others at any cost in order to keep their privileged positions!
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5 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

An example of how the Supremacists use Scripture to further domination of oppressed groups: The commenter I encountered at Pam's House Blend who insisted that Jesus Christ's teaching about "born eunuchs" referred to "intersex" people. There's is no evidence whatsoever to back up this absurd claim! What's more, intersex genitalia has nothing to do with the definition of eunuch, not the modern definition ("castrated man") or the ancient one ("a man who does not desire women")!

This commenter further bent the truth by claiming that all Gay men in antiquity were "macho men"; claiming that castrated men lose all sexual desire, a myth that's been discredited by science; and implying that Gay men would've been called Gay men in New Testament times!

These notions are ridiculous in the extreme! They insult the intelligence! It underscores how oppressors and their Uncle Tom minions will bend over backwards in order to justify their exclusionary view of the world. They are heavily invested in a discriminatory status quo.

Jerry Maneker said...

I agree with you on all counts, Don Charles. The oppressor has done a good job in having many LGBT people refuse to see that they are "normal," and that God created God's LGBT children, and that they are not "mistakes."

All too many LGBT people revel in pariah status, and could care less about equal rights, because so many unconsciously and/or consciously believe they don't deserve them.

When attention is called, from Scripture no less, that God created Gay people, many resent it and twist logic to conform to their belief and contentment with "outsider" status.

Until there is a "transformation of consciousness," what gains are made will be painfully incremental, if any gains occur at all. Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Thank you so much, Jerry, for raising my consciousness about the counterproductivity of Gay Pride parades. Before I had discussions with you, I would look at the excessive clowning of participants, roll my eyes and kind of look the other way. Now I fully see how their wild Mardi Gras atmosphere distorts society's perception of who and what LGBT folk are, and sabotages the equality movement. There's no event that promotes the myth of Queerness more forcefully! Everyone who's serious about their Gay activism must denounce Pride parade excess.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Don Charles: The counterproductive nature of many Pride Parades can be seen to be akin to African Americans holding minstrel shows during the African American Civil Rights movement!

Burlesquing, trivializing, and sexualizing LGBT identity not only fulfills negative stereotypes, but can only serve to alienate potential Straight allies to the cause of full and equal civil rights for LGBT people.

Besides, what is being celebrated at these Pride Parades? Lack of equality? The relegation of LGBT people to second-class citizenship and pariah status? The existence and continuation of DADT? The existence and continuation of DOMA?

Moreover, one can only see the extremes in the Pride Parades in California, when Prop. 8 is being adjudicated, as being nothing short of traitorous and/or masochistic. Best wishes, Jerry.

genevieve said...

You're right on the mark, Don Charles. I did a study on eunuchs and so did a friend of mine. Nowhere is intersex implied.

It's quite possible that the pride parades could be used in another fashion. The problem I see is that corporate dollars are pumped into them. They more or less control what can and cannot be spoken. This is where I believe things may have gone off track.