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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Who we are

A great deal of the rhetoric we hear from the right wing these days has to do with a deep-seated fear of those whose identity, and in particular gender identity, departs from the mainstream. I say fear, though intolerance, dismissal, and gross misunderstanding also attend the expressions of moral outrage and blame directed at those who are members of a LGBQTIA community. After decades of growing acceptance and advances in human rights in the US, the resurgence of a politically and religiously motivated rejection of same sex and quite possibly interracial marriage together with borderline violent assaults on anyone whose identity differs from a narrowly defined standard deals a staggering blow to the foundational principles our country claims. It comes at a time when the overwhelming majority of countries in the western world have themselves reversed centuries of oppressive laws and attitudes embracing a more mature understanding of the diversity of human expression.

At a fundamental level, much of the rejection –at least among those whose motives are not driven by cynical opportunism, is based on the assumption that who we are, and why we are the way we are is a purely biologic determination. There are several things wrong with this conjecture, not least the assertion that our understanding of human biology, psychology, personality, and sexuality is complete and exhaustive. Nothing could be further from the truth, yet it is widely accepted by many that our identity, state of mind, gender orientation and other predilections are all a matter of choice, as if we elect to be something other than what we know ourselves to be. Even more repugnant, those who embrace such throwback ideas further presume a moral correctness that must be upheld whenever a person deviates from what they hold as the one and only acceptable behavior. They reserve to themselves an exclusive right to be who they are, without question or invalidation, yet deny that very same right to others.

The roots of this poisonous attitude manifest in the treatment of anyone whose physical, racial, or cultural makeup differs in sufficient degree from ‘people like us’. They may pity those who are physically or mentally handicapped but avert their eyes or hold them apart. But their eyes and hearts are filled with contempt for everyone else who does not meet their distorted ideal. Their aversion and hostility is further justified as a prophylactic measure to prevent the spread of what they see as aberrations. This is not a new or recent, every generation and society offer ample evidence of the mythology of difference becoming institutionalized. Witch hunting in its modern form differs only slightly from its precedents. Those who differ are depicted as the forces of evil personified, while those who consider themselves the morally upright cast out and punish those differences to appease a distorted and perverse religious zealotry.

If we permit this false crusade to prevail, it is not just those who differ by present standards that will suffer the consequences. Whenever a dividing line is drawn it does not remain fixed but unceasingly moves; an ever-expanding definition of what constitutes difference. We have witnessed what happens when a nation acts upon such distinctions—the repression, banishment and eventually the annihilation of those deemed unfit. Nor should we tolerate those who employ the sly pretext, love the sinner, abhor the sin. They do not love the sinner, but only wish to make themselves seem forgiving as if they alone were accorded a divine wisdom to parse what constitutes sin. Make no mistake, those who would roll back to a repressive social order wish to enforce ignorance, reject science, and establish a society of obedience held in place by violence or its threat disguised as laws and regulations so as to mask its despicable nature. It has already begun with a campaign to remove books and information from our schools that tell an unvarnished version of our history with respect to the treatment of those who differ and to further restrict any teaching which might throw light on the diversity of human expression.

LGBQTIA communities and other racial or culturally diverse groups are not evangelical, they do not seek to convert, influence, or lure anyone to join them. They wish only to be accorded the same treatment, to enjoy the same rights and privileges as other contributing members of our society. It is the so-called evangelicals who suggest this motive and it is they, to the contrary, that seek to impose their way of life on everyone else. The blind and deceitful advocates of division seek to eliminate all who differ. They are the same who claim that God is ineffable and his ways are beyond human understanding, yet in the next breath claim to know God’s intimate thoughts on the diversity of his creation, human life. If there is judgement to be levied, it should rest on those who invent sin as a mask for their very human nature. In the words of Susan B. Anthony, "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires".

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