1/26/2005

"So What?"

Excerpts from a column in Newsday today:
In a week marked by the confirmation hearings of Condoleezza Rice, discussion about the dismantling of Social Security, and the president's second inauguration, the issue at the center of American discourse was the threat of SpongeBob SquarePants.
Two of the most vocal conservative Christian organizations - Focus on the Family and the American Family Association - claimed that SpongeBob SquarePants was being used as a subtle advocate of homosexuality in a video produced for children and intended to promote diversity. What is shocking about this is not that the radical right would stage another assault in America's endless culture war, but that liberals are cowed by such ridiculous tactics.
...When faced with charges that they are promoting tolerance of homosexuality as a valid aspect of American life, would not the better response have been, "Yes ... so what?"
...The issue of importance is, of course, not this particular incident but the increasing impotence of American liberals. The Democratic Party is the clearest example of how progressives in this country have gotten in the habit of reacting to provocations from conservatives rather than rigorously defending a clear set of beliefs. In contrast, the religious right has transformed what was once considered radical into an exemplar of mainstream values by sticking to their agenda. Just try accusing conservative Christians of wanting to outlaw abortion, suppress homosexuality and promote Jesus as the only true savior. What happens? They don't apologize and say that there must be some mistake. They say, "Absolutely."
...American liberals in general and Democrats in particular find themselves in an awkward situation when confronted with homophobic attacks from the right, because many of these supposed friends of the gay community in fact demonstrate only a provisional support for homosexual rights. It is one thing to have gay friends and espouse messages of diversity but, when the going gets rough, few liberals will stand with gay people on principle, regardless of the cost.

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