Alex Blaze

No, I won't join your crusade

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 13, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media

The right-leaning Advocate has another weird column up bashing Muslims for attempting to build a community center because that's, like, the number one LGBT issue right now. This one's from Jamie Kirchick, and I'm not going to get into much of the substance because it's already been hashed and rehashed a thousand times and the entire point is to just distract people.

islam_christian.jpgIt's especially funny that The Advocate would print a column from Kirchick about the Park51 center considering not too long ago he was in that same journal arguing "Well, duh. The purpose of the 'gay civil rights movement' is to lobby for gay civil rights." Really? It seems like he left out "fight Islamofascist jihadism." But that's the way it is with homocons: when someone says America's poor health care system is an issue that disproportionately affects LGBT people, it's "Focus on gay issues, please"; when someone says "Muslims, aaahhhh!" it's "I'll see your aaahhhh and raise you a shreeeeeeeek!"

Anyway, he raises a question that's a favorite among gay conservatives, especially European gay conservatives: "Why isn't Islam being held to the same standard [as Christianity]?" He asks why gay Americans get mad when Christians are homophobic, but not so much when Muslims do. Allow me to respond briefly.

But first, Kirchick isn't an idiot. He's probably a fairly smart guy, who writes for several large publications. And every time I read what he has to say, I have to assure myself that he's not stone-cold stupid, that he is in fact able to insert food into the correct hole, but that he just plays the part for the stupidification of others.

Here's the big reason American gays are more likely to discuss Christian homophobia: according to American Religious Identification Survey in 2008, 76% of Americans are some sort of Christian, while 0.6% are Muslim. Those numbers have a profound effect on American culture: gays are more likely to leave a homophobic church than a homophobic mosque, Christians give tons more money to anti-gay ballot initiatives than Muslims do, "family values" politicians pander to Christians and not Muslims, etc.

Yes, we gays are able to notice the subtle difference in power between American Christians and American Muslims. We're observant that way. So when Kirchick calls gays hypocrites because we criticize Gingrich and not... well, that's the problem right there. He says it's "selective outrage" for us to criticize Gingrich whenever something homophobic comes out of his mouth, but is there a famous, powerful, and Muslim former speaker of the House who's still getting lots of TV time who's spouting homophobic nonsense? For it to be "selective outrage," wouldn't there have to be a selection process of some sort?

Gays do tend to be concerned with Islamophobia, but I'll explain this to Kirchick and gay conservatives so that there's less confusion: it's not because gays want everyone to convert to Islam. It's because gays generally know the value of living in a society that values difference and protects the basic freedoms of even unpopular minorities.

More gays than straights would fall in the "Get out of established religion completely" category, but that's not Kirchick's argument. His argument is that we should choose the correct established religion, the one of his tribe, the one that he thinks we should see as our team. And when our team's religion hates us, we're supposed to take one for the team and suck it up - if we criticize our religion, then the other tribe's religion will invade us and oppress us even more. Right?

Except, no, that's not how the world works. What will reduce homophobia in the US isn't giving Christians more power to do what they want because they're supposedly the less homophobic religion of the two, but reducing the power of religion over the government and the American people. And I keep telling myself that Kirchick can't possibly be saying that we should just trust our lives to Christian leaders, that when he argues that he knows he's wrong and he's being intentionally deceptive.

And the proof is in the column itself, which spends a third of its words decrying how people think that Greg Gutfield isn't going to actually build and operate a "Muslim gay bar" (whatever that is) next to the Park51 center, without ever stopping to mention that a pampered cable star isn't going to give up that career to start a time-consuming business based on one of the most likely-to-fail premises ever.

Instead, the goal is to take our attention away from Republicans who are directly, currently oppressing gays in the US and make us focus on... well, he doesn't even provide an example.

All I can say is that I'll blog equally about Muslim and Christian homophobes when there's an equal amount of Muslim and Christian homophobia in the US.

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Exactly! Why do we even need to explain the concept of focusing on the issues that actually affect our lives? Hello?

I know of precisely one Muslim that I have routine contact with, and he's kind and gentle and utterly supportive of my identity as a transgender lesbian. That's more than I can say for Christian members of my own family! So what am I supposed to do with my own life experience? Ignore it and give into fear mongering? No thank you.

infulleffect | October 13, 2010 3:57 PM

Nicely it.

Wilson46201 | October 13, 2010 4:15 PM

There are two Muslim Members of Congress, Keith Ellison and André Carson. Both are members of the LGBT Equality Caucus. How many Republicans are members of that caucus? For that matter, how many Gay Republicans are out in Congress?

Wilson46201 | October 13, 2010 4:30 PM

There are two Muslim Members of Congress, Keith Ellison and André Carson. Both are members of the LGBT Equality Caucus. How many Republicans are members of that caucus? For that matter, how many Gay Republicans are out in Congress?

I do hold Islam to the same standard I hold christianity, namely to legitimate critiques of religion (and snark, lots of snark) and not xenophobia, racism, and imperialism. I'm a mushy accomadationist like that...

Good post, Alex --- everything you say about American Muslims and American politics is pretty much true.

However, there is an international aspect to this. I hope this does not imply that LGBT Americans, and LGBT citizens throughout the free world, can stand silent while Islamic countries persecute and execute their citizens for being LGBT. We also need to keep up the pressure so that said countries will someday allow LGBT rights to be added to the various international human rights documents. In that regard, we are holding Islam and Christianity to the same standard, and we have every reason to expect the homocons to stand firm with us.

Excellent - Well Said, - Perfect.

Please plan an extended visit to Dearborn, Michigan. You need to experience an overwhelmingly American-Muslim community with your own eyes. You may just be equally critical of Muslim homophobia after your trip, assuming that you pretend to be a straight Muslim man and that you get out alive. In Dearborn, you will quickly discover that you have no First Amendment rights and that the authorities will not help you defend yours.

You may just be equally critical of Muslim homophobia after your trip

I doubt it. Like I said in the last paragraph of the post, I'll blog equally about American Muslim homophobia and American Christian homophobia when there are equal amounts of them. This blog is about the United States, generally; I'm not enough of an expert of Dearborn politics to focus exclusively on that city every day (back when this site was just about Indiana it was hard enough for me to keep up).

But, still, I'm wondering about what Dearborn proves. From what I've read, the police there aren't even as brutal against Christian protestors as they are against leftist protestors at other events. They didn't even Tase or throw tear gas on or mass arrest any Christians for handing out literature, they just told them to stop yelling at people and arrested them for being "confrontational" (the situations I know about, if you're referring to lesser-known events feel free to link).

And, of course, the ACLU is taking up the case and the First Amendment has gotten some of the charges thrown out, proving that, once again, if you let the conservative Christians run the country the problem would not be solved as they would have already disbanded the ACLU and removed the First Amendment (or "clarified" it, as they love to put it). It's the country's secular values that many fair-minded Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, etc., stand up for that are the solution.

It's the country's secular values that many fair-minded Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, etc., stand up for that are the solution.

I agree with you, Alex, but I think this line of thinking can be refined if we consider the difference between "secular" and "ecumenical".

"Secular" generally means that matters of religion are laid aside -- not denied to exist, but just laid aside. "Ecumenical" refers to inter-faith understanding, and civil dialogue and respectful social exchange between and among the various faiths. As America continues to become more and more diverse religiously, we need ecumenical sentiments every bit as badly as we need secular ones.

The spirit of the First Amendment actually is both secular and ecumenical -- it requires the American government to be largely secular (to lay religious issues aside as much as possible), and it clearly implies that the various religions among the citizenry are expected to co-exist side by side with reasonable harmony without constantly attacking each other (although, admittedly, free speech does protect the inter-faith attacks).

A noble vision, too bad the real America doesn't work that way, at least not yet.

Jonathan makes a very good point about Dearborn. Overall muslims are more anti-gay and anti-women. Remember that little incident with the cartoonist in Denmark? That was for a cartoon! And the muslims in Denmark are about 4% of the population. So by the time you get your 50%, muslims will be insisting that women cover their hair while grocery shopping, and you can forget about gay bars.

Wow! I never saw it that way! I'll suck it up and take one for the team, vote Republican and let Christian homophobes do whatever they want to gay people because Muslims are worse! Someone else who's worse out there always lets people who do bad things off the hook.

Don't take it personal, John -- the Muslims will close all the straight bars, too, because they don't believe in allowing alcohol.

AJ, you're right on. I agree with you. At the same time I'm wondering this: Why is that the left-wing feels a need to support ANY type of organized religion? I once considered myself to be extreme left, but when I saw the left taking sides in religious disputes I was really upset and realized my place was neither with the left nor the right.
Organized religion is detrimental in many ways. Extreme Christians are just as bad as extreme muslims, just not as violent.

Why is [it] that the left-wing feels a need to support ANY type of organized religion?

Simple: because there aren't enough anti-religion voters to get anyone elected.

However, all is not lost. The Pew polls on the religious make-up of America show that the population segment who consider themselves "spiritual but not religious" continues to increase -- as do those who consider themselves frankly atheist, although more slowly.

Clearly, there is a wider religious spectrum in the Democratic Party than in the GOP. Generally, the only atheists on the right, at this point, are a few hard-nosed and thick-skinned libertarians.

Although organized religion messing in politics is almost invariably a disaster, outspoken atheism in American politics is a Kiss of Death -- otherwise, Ayn Rand might have become Chair of the Fed herself instead of Greenspan. (That, in case you didn't catch it, was a joke.)

thank you for writing this article. i'm arab-american AND muslim AND a lesbian, and people like me get totally ignored when homocons get on their soapboxes -- and yes, there are people like me. i even have straight muslim allies! but you never hear about us because acknowledging our existence would complicate the discourse too much for the homocons to handle.

also, blaming muslims for any amount of american homophobia is like blaming black voters for upholding prop 8. it's racist scapegoating. let other MUSLIMS handle issues of sexism and homophobia in their communities -- we don't need no xenophobic self-righteous white people telling us what to do.

But that is one of the issues here, sam -- this is America and we don't want isolated, little Muslim enclaves here and there, just as we no longer want segragated blacks living in squallid little shanty towns and indigenous North Americans trapped on reservations. We are not rejecting the peoples, we are rejecting the segregation and isolation. There is a germ of truth to the principle that America is a melting pot, and for the most part we don't want America, or any sub-population here, to be Balkanized.

I am a white, gay male -- but sexism and homophobia is my problem, whether it is Muslim or Christian or other, just as poverty and lack of quality education in black neighborhoods is my problem.

theflyingarab | October 17, 2010 8:36 PM

AJ, you are exhibiting signs of the White Savior Complex, which you can jfg, because I don't feel like explaining it to you.

Also, "self-segregation" is a myth. Saying that "Muslim enclaves" shouldn't exist is like saying that gay or lesbian bars shouldn't exist, because everyone should be ~integrated~. Bullshit. Muslims need each other's support in the face of Islamophobia in America just as queer people need to be in LGBTQ safe spaces.

I won't even touch what you said about Black people and American Indians. Hopefully someone with a lot of spare patience will.