01 September 2016

Wingnut sanctuaries?

For some time now there has been a growing feeling on the right wing that, since they are inexorably losing the culture wars, they need to carve out some sort of refuge for themselves in which their culture can survive -- a place "transformed into an oasis of unfreedom and injustice", in which traditional myths and bigotry can continue unchallenged.  Two and a half years ago, Ross Douthat demanded such sanctuary in the form of exceptions to anti-discrimination laws.  By now it is fairly clear that that is not going to fly.  Now this post at LifeSite News, a hard-line Catholic forum, calls for actual, physical sanctuary cities for true-believing Christians, citing the precedent of sanctuary cities for illegal aliens in which local authorities refuse to cooperate with certain federal laws.

Exactly what the author wants refuge from has to be read between the lines, given the way such writers twist their language into a hard-to-follow snarl in order to justify the underlying stance that they are the ones suffering from oppression when they can't discriminate and harass any more.  Still, given recent battles in the culture wars, it's not too hard to figure out what this means:

Business owners and workers must be allowed to do their work and flourish without having to celebrate moral corruption and keep their mouths shut. Florists, bakers, photographers, and all small business owners have the right to refuse to participate in celebrations of things they find immoral, just as any sane baker would justly refuse to provide a cake for a Nazi event.

So, basically, a sanctuary city would be one in which anti-gay discrimination would remain permissible because the local authorities would not cooperate with federal laws and court rulings against it.  Entire states have already tried this by refusing to accept last year's Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, and the federal government made it clear that it would not tolerate this.  Suppose a few cities here and there announced that they were becoming "sanctuaries" in which lunch counters and bus companies were free to discriminate against black customers again?  How long do you think that would be allowed to stand?  Where discrimination is concerned, the federal government is rightly uncompromising, because it has a duty to protect all its citizens even if they live in places where bigots form a local majority.  Aside from the government, entities ranging from corporations to sports leagues have boycotted states which legalize anti-gay discrimination under the guise of "religious liberty", creating massive economic pressure.  Such "sanctuaries" suffer heavy and sustained penalties.

The post also includes a lot of complaining about people having to home-school their kids to protect them from being exposed to messages of tolerance for those who are different.  So presumably a sanctuary city would be one where public schools were officially tolerant of bullying of gay kids and perhaps even included some Christian doctrine as part of the curriculum.  This might be easier to get away with given the power of local school boards to control local schools (the decentralization of control over education is one of this country's core problems, but that's a matter for another post), and easier still if it were done at private schools instead of public ones.  But all that stuff basically happens already in many small towns where intolerant and ignorant religious people are in the majority.  Aside from offering some local quasi-official legitimacy, it's hard to see what a "sanctuary city" would add.  If they want open preaching of religious dogma as part of the curriculum in public schools with the support of local authorities, this has already been tried with creationism, and legal cases such as Kitzmiller v. Dover have shown that local authorities have no such power to ignore the Constitution.  They are getting away with it in a few states where state authorities are complicit, but the Kitzmiller precedent suggests that determined lawsuits could end this.

The "sanctuary" concept is morally incoherent because the "oppression" these people claim to be fleeing from isn't really oppression.   What they're trying to protect isn't their own equality and freedom, it's their ability to deny the equality and freedom of others (equality in the case of gays, freedom in the case of women who want contraception or abortion).  The government may tacitly leave you alone to do your own thing, but not when "your own thing" is beating up on somebody else.

Something like what the post suggests did actually succeed for several generations in one case.  When the Mormon Church finally yielded to government pressure and abandoned polygamy in 1890, a few small groups of hard-line dissenters left the Church and set up their own communities where they could continue polygamy.  Known as "Mormon Fundamentalists" or FLDS, these groups built tiny, isolated settlements in remote areas, in some cases even across the borders in Mexico or Canada.  These enclaves survived unbothered because they largely escaped notice.  Only in the last few years, as a pattern of abuse of underage girls there entered public awareness, has the government begun to crack down on them.  Again, the problem is that the "freedom" they were defending was the freedom to abuse children and keep women in subjugation.

Anyway, I don't think a tiny isolated compound in the middle of a desert is what Douthat or the readers of LifeSite News have in mind.  They want modern conveniences and urbanity without modern challenges to the supremacy of religious dogmas, taboos, and prejudices.  But that's fundamentally impossible, because of the exuberant free marketplace of ideas which modern popular culture creates.  Consider the Middle East, a vast region of hundreds of millions of people where religion has been brutally dominant since the 12th century and where most governments actually support religious taboos and strictures.  Its societies are in upheaval as millions question religious dogma or flatly (if quietly) abandon it, as women demand more freedom and education, as young people assert self-determination in sexuality and marriage.  This is happening now, after centuries of stagnation under religion, because Western movies, TV, music, books, and the internet are flooding the region with new ideas and imagery.  The Islamic backlash of political fundamentalism and even terrorism can kill people, but it can't stop these changes.  What chance would Sanctuaryburg, Alabama have of keeping out the influences that would turn much of its own next generation against the culture it's trying to protect?  FLDS enclaves ban TV and the internet.  In a normal city, this would be impossible.

Muddled attempts at creating wingnut sanctuaries on the city or state level will doubtless persist for some time, but in the long run they will fizzle out and fade away.


Blogger Paul Wartenberg said...

this is just another pitch for those "Utopian" communities of the 19th century, all of which failed because 1) the people who designed them weren't perfect, 2) the ideals around which those communities were built turned out to be idiotic and ill-formed.

I've been down this road before. I remember the wingnuts were pitching these walled communities years ago after Obama won his second term... hold on, here's a link:


01 September, 2016 16:40  
Blogger Alessandro Machi said...

In my open the Gay community had three routes to take towards gay marriage, of the three they took the one option that created the most in your face snark that is now creating the backlash described in your article.

The Civil Union concept was a winner but but the gay community grew restless at not already having gay marriage rights even as support was growing from the heterosexual community who were going to have civil unions instead of conventional marriages as a sign of solidarity. Celebrities were supporting civil unions as well. The U.S. would be well on its way to having more civil unions performed each year than marriages if the Gay community had rode it out, and that would have obviously led to equivalent rights for Civil Unions that Marriages presently have.

The second option, the one I think should have been followed, would be to challenge why any heterosexual couple who had no intent or were incapable of having their own children, were being afforded the right to marriage while a gay couple could not. I cannot see a winning conservative argument that allows a male and female who either won't or can't reproduce, special marriage rights over a gay couple's right to marriage since the purpose of either marriage would basically be identical.

The third option, the one chosen by the gay community, to win in the courts in the most highly confrontational in your face manner as possible, has now created the response you describe in your article.

The question I have is, if the gay community had three winning gay marriage options, why choose the most confrontational one?

01 September, 2016 17:44  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Paul: Glenn beck pitched an idea for a walled libertarian community in Texas a couple of years ago, I think. It came to nothing, as these things always do.

Alessandro: Remember that the anti-gay-marriage backlash is the feeling of a shrinking minority. That's why they're increasingly talking in terms of refuges and sanctuaries to insulate themselves from a mainstream society which is majority pro-gay and becoming more so all the time.

From a public-relations standpoint, gay marriage is one of the most spectacular success stories in American history. Public support is now nearly two to one according to surveys, and it got there from the former mass attitude of repulsed incomprehension in less than two decades. The gay community's approach (which did, by the way, include that very argument about non-reproducing heterosexuals, though separate-but-equal civil unions were never more than a way station) has been so successful that the former persecutors are now feeling like refugees in a society now firmly on the side of the formerly persecuted.

01 September, 2016 18:16  
Blogger Paul Wartenberg said...

And these wingnut sanctuaries won't have any taco trucks on the corners.

02 September, 2016 04:14  
Blogger Ahab said...

Last year, Linda Harvey proposed anti-LGBTQ sanctuary cities in a commentary piece at WND.


The problems with such a concept should be obvious.


02 September, 2016 04:30  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

First of all, I thought the little fundamoralist at the top of your posting was cute, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh {:-) I was just picturing a little cross though on the gate for identification purposes {:-), the size of it was "fitting" being small ... No, I dont have any problemo with folks individual cults and environments, if someone wants to exclude themselves from the rest of the world in their own environment with their buddies, I'm all for it. The problemo is AS YOU mention here, where they are shoving their self designed/ tailored morals down everyone elses throats, and trying to manipulate everyone elses rights, laws and livelihood ... although they will accuse folks like myself for shoving my wayz down their throat, although I never do (and a person sure as Hell dont have to read my blog or listen to my opinion, I frankly dont give a shit one way or another), I have NEVER tried to stop a person from praying or believing what they want, or have any desire to tell them how they should run their family, communities or try to manipulate their liberties through legislation or propaganda.

Once I was coming of of an adult store/ sex business here in Dallas, and ran into a little cult of young fundamoralists who were protesting the business, they wanted to know why I do what I do, I was honest with them, about my fetishes and all the twisted shit I love to indulge in ... they looked so sad, especially the girls ... I mean, I'm a real pervert, they wanted to pray for me ... so I felt to let them, just for shits and grins ... they closed their eyes, held hands and the usual ... after they did, I looked up at the sky and quoted JC saying ... "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (a couple got a laugh out of it) ... and told them to have a good day {:-) Another time, I was visiting friends who had a house and occult store in Fort Worth, they specialized in Satanic books, ritual supplies, jewelry, etc ... but some fundamoralists started gathering out front with signs saying negative things, they got close to the lawn in front of the property, we went inside and came out with guns (men and women, there was about 10 of us)... told them to get the fuck off of the property, their asses moved quick to the median in the middle of the street ... we have that right here in Texas, and we sure as Hell will utilize it ... you can say, we had our own environment too, eh?

02 September, 2016 07:14  
Blogger Frank Wilhoit said...

"...exceptions to anti-discrimination laws. By now it is fairly clear that that is not going to fly...."

? Facts not in evidence; indeed, the facts show that it is flying high and strong. Every law on the books has been, in effect if not expressly, subverted by a "deeply-held beliefs" exception.

This is precisely in keeping with the traditional Christian understanding of the Ten Commandments, which is that they apply only within the community; each contains an implicit proviso "...except non-Christians".

02 September, 2016 13:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Paul: Everybody seems to be wondering why corner taco trucks would be a bad idea.

Ahab: The idea has been around for a while, but it never seems to get anywhere for long.

Ranch: It's a public-domain clip-art drawing -- I added the cross, though. Glad to hear progressive culture is sticking up for itself in Texas. As I remember from when I was doing abortion-clinic defense in Portland, the fundie protesters can be pretty menacing sometimes.

Frank: As far as I know, none of these bakers, florists, etc. who discriminated against gays on religious grounds have gotten away with it. We had a case in Gresham, for example (near Portland), where they ended up with hefty fines and penalties. Southern states that tried to defy the Supreme Court on gay marriage fared no better. The courts are quite solid against such efforts to carve out exceptions.

02 September, 2016 16:07  
Blogger Frank Wilhoit said...

Did you miss Hobby Lobby, which sets a very clear and (as far as I can see) universal precedent in the opposite direction from your examples?

02 September, 2016 16:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

There are always going to be exceptions and cases where progress gets stalled. But it's very clear what direction things are going in overall. If that weren't the case, you wouldn't have the wingnuts fretting about how to wall themselves off from a society that is more and more turning against them.

The best way to make sure the Hobby Lobby misfire gets reversed, and to prevent future rulings like it, is to make sure that the next four years of Supreme Court and federal judge appointments are made by Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump.

03 September, 2016 02:10  
Blogger Alessandro Machi said...

"...though separate-but-equal civil unions were never more than a way station)" end quote.

The same can be said about "Don't ask, Don't Tell" from the 90's. Except that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was the line in the sand that eventually led to gay marriage rights. The biggest issue I have with progressivism is wanting it all right away and disrespecting compromise. Compromise is how people catch their breaths to reconsider the bigger picture.

In my opinion, your quote…"though separate-but-equal civil unions were never more than a way station"
is based on the perception that civil unions were not going to dwarf "regular marriages" any time soon. I think millennials would have embraced civil unions in unprecedented numbers, making civil unions the prima facie method of marriage in the U.S, probably by 2016. What better way to protest the establishment than by having a civil union versus a marriage played out in the year of political protest and framentation.

Is it a moot point now? Yes, but what a movement to actually dwarf the very thing gay couples originally wanted to be a part of.

03 September, 2016 11:21  
Blogger Alessandro Machi said...

Since anti-war people can't choose how their taxes are apportioned, why would any group have the right to pick a certain group to do not do business with?

03 September, 2016 11:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I don't see why it would have been to gays' advantage to have straights abandon marriage for civil unions, even if that would have happened on a large scale, which I see no reason to believe. That would actually have been a more radical and intrusive demand -- expecting straights to change their own institution of marriage for something else. As it is, gays won access to marriage as it has always existed, thus achieving full equality -- while straights didn't have to change at all, continuing to marry as they always had. Everyone's happy except the real bigots whose main goal is keeping gays less than equal. And almost two thirds of the population now supports the gay right to marriage. It's perhaps the purest case of rapid and successful social progress in our history.

03 September, 2016 17:11  
Blogger Alessandro Machi said...

Millennials were very supportive of Civil Unions and there was a growing movement to marry civilly as way to support gay rights towards marriage. We see how millennials have influenced this year's election, their impact might have been even bigger in the area of marriage since their age range is the range of first time married.

06 September, 2016 08:46  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

And as I said before, society as a whole has now mostly accepted gay marriage, so there was no need to settle for the lesser way-station of civil unions since the traditional institution itself has been made available to gay people.

I believe we've exhausted the subject.

06 September, 2016 18:41  

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