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January 03, 2006

Comments

Queer Conservative

Amen.

Dan

Robbie, wake up. Who has had more of an impact on gay rights in this country? The Washington Blade is not the NYTimes or the IHT, it doesn't have an international audience (it barely has an audience here in DC). While I think the whole award is stupid to begin with, I think it has way more relevance to Blade readers than Sharia Law.

And nice job with the religion baiting. I'm sure it'll do a good job of cranking up your page views, but it's putting you in the same credibility league as Pat Buchanan and Jean Marie Le Pen.

Robbie

Do you realize how little attention an overwhelming majority of American Catholics pay to the Pope? The Vatican can barely get its own priests in line half the time, much less the actual congregations.

Typical lefty response. I disdain a religion that is awful for the rights of women and gays and somehow I'm a racist, xenophobic right-winger.

How did a liberal become so backward from his professed values? How is it you're the progressive and I'm the conservative?

It's an odd world.

Dan

I never said you were xenophobic or racist. I just think this is inflammatory and unproductive. It's easy in this atmosphere to demonize muslims. The images we see every day would lead the uninformed person to believe islam is somehow incompatible with the basic tenets of democracy. This is ill-informed. It is only the extreme form of islam, espoused by people like Bin Laden, that we should be attacking. If we try to lump all muslims into that group I think it is, at best, intellectually lazy.

Speaking of religious beliefs that are bad for gay and women's rights, why don't you go attack christian extremists like Pat Robertson and Don Wildmon with the same fervor? Certainly their actions are much more relevant gay rights than their muslim counterparts.

Dan

(in this country, that is)

Robbie

it's putting you in the same credibility league as Pat Buchanan and Jean Marie Le Pen.

I never said you were xenophobic or racist.

Don't be disingenuous. Please. It's insulting, and it's probably the one thing I hate most in the world. Just don't do it around me.

I just think this is inflammatory and unproductive

"Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death," was also "inflammatory and unproductive." When you are defending the basic human rights of mankind, I don't think you can ever be inflammatory enough. There are some things we should never be polite about, and defense of liberal, western democratic traditions is one of them.

The images we see every day would lead the uninformed person to believe islam is somehow incompatible with the basic tenets of democracy. This is ill-informed. It is only the extreme form of islam, espoused by people like Bin Laden, that we should be attacking. If we try to lump all muslims into that group I think it is, at best, intellectually lazy.

I believe Islam can be secularized. Any human society can undergo a Reformation. However, you are being intellectually lazy by side-stepping the reality on the ground: Fundamentalist Islam is not an aberration. What we call "centrist" Islam would be an extreme form of fundamentalism in America. Centrist Muslims are worse than our Pat Robertsons. They are only centrist when compared to mass-murderers. Given the context, I don't get very excited about dialogue with "moderates."

I don't understand this rushing to defend people who hold attitudes that you would lambast to hell and back if an American evangelical held them.

Speaking of religious beliefs that are bad for gay and women's rights, why don't you go attack christian extremists like Pat Robertson and Don Wildmon with the same fervor?

I do. Have you read this blogl?

Jack Malebranche

Do you realize how little attention an overwhelming majority of American Catholics pay to the Pope?

I agree. I would (kind of) agree with Dan, that maybe your Evangelicals have more anti-homo influence in America, at the moment.

But Islam does make contemporary Christian homophobia look cute and fuzzy.

Dan

I'm not being disingenuous. Jeez, man, what in the world have I said to insinuate you're racist? I said you're baiting your readers with this overheated religious rhetoric. That's evidence of a poorly formed argument, not racism.

And I know you'd like to think you're the modern-day Patrick Henry, but give me a fucking break. "Give me liberty or give me death." Inflammatory, yes, but a message that rings true even today. "Get those friggin muslism out of my country!" Hmm, doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?

I also think you're being a little sweeping in your indictment of all muslims. "Centralist/Extreme Muslims" ... whatever .. the larger point isn't their religion. It's when their religion (or whatever version they're practicing) suddenly says "overthrow democracy" that yeah, we need to take issue. And I think if you talk to any normal muslim in this country, you'll see that there's nothing inherent in the muslim religion that is incompatible with the values of this country.

I know you have attacked those christian wingnuts in the past. I just don't understand why you now seem to be attacking muslims with a much broader sword (and with much more vitriol).


Robbie

I'm not being disingenuous. Jeez, man, what in the world have I said to insinuate you're racist?

Please don't tell me you're not aware of the connotations present in drawing comparisons to Buchanan and Le Pen.

I said you're baiting your readers with this overheated religious rhetoric.

Actually, I don't bait my readers. I blog about what interests me, I express my opinions and feelings on various issues. If the readers are interested, they'll continue reading. If not, they'll find another blog or only read Mal's posts. Nothing I say is intended to "get" someone.

And I know you'd like to think you're the modern-day Patrick Henry, but give me a fucking break. "Give me liberty or give me death." Inflammatory, yes, but a message that rings true even today. "Get those friggin muslism out of my country!" Hmm, doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?

If you lived in the 1770s, you'd probably claim that "Give me liberty or give me death," is nothing more than "Get those friggin Tories out of my country!"

It's when their religion (or whatever version they're practicing) suddenly says "overthrow democracy" that yeah, we need to take issue.

Honestly, if you paid half as much attention to Europe as you do to Jerry Falwell, you'd already see that this danger is already present in Europe and growing as the demographics continue to change. That you do not see this means you really don't know what's going on in Europe. And, since you don't, I don't understand why you feel you're in a position to argue this.

And I think if you talk to any normal muslim in this country, you'll see that there's nothing inherent in the muslim religion that is incompatible with the values of this country.

Islam in America isn't quite the same for a variety of reasons that would take, literally, a book to explain. Suffice to say the two biggest factors for the moderation in American Islam is demographics (they're a tiny minority), and population density (when people aren't living on top of each other, cultural differences are far less pronounced and aggravated).

I know you have attacked those christian wingnuts in the past. I just don't understand why you now seem to be attacking muslims with a much broader sword (and with much more vitriol).

Because Islam is exponentially worse. You seem to take the attitude "Well, this doesn't directly affect my life, so why should I care very much?" Which is very insular and isolationist of you. When Europe goes down, do you think America will remain unfluttered and unaffected? As attacks on homosexuals, women, and Jews increase in the cradle of western civilization, you don't think we should be rapt with attention to see where Europe is going wrong, how it is becoming so liberal it's collapsing in upon itself and giving rise to increasing illiberalism?

I sure as hell do.

Robbie

Actually, if you want to know what I think Europe should be doing, this is exactly it:

German State To Require Muslims Take Test On Homosexuality

With the exception of the speech codes (I dislike restrictions on speech intensely), I think this is a perfectly sane measure for Europe to take. Protecting liberal, western values must again become a priority over all.

Mary

Perhaps it would be more appropriate for the Blade to have named "Religious Extremism" as the Anti-Gay Person (Phenomenon?) of the Year. I agree that Radical Islam is extremely harmful to gays, but I have to wonder about the Pope's impact in a global context. It's obviously not pretty for gays in many Southern and Central American countries and I'm sure that some Catholics justify anti-gay sentiments based on the Pope's brand of Catholicism. So long as the Vatican seeks to increase Church membership by appealing to people with archaic ideas about women and gays, it rightfully deserves condemnation. This isn’t to say that Radical Islam isn’t terrible. But perhaps we can criticize extremism camps across religious boundaries.

mary

That should be "extremist" camps.

Robbie

Mary, I'd rather they not draw the equivalence. While Catholicism is not gay friendly, it is astronomical units away from cheerfully supporting physical violence against and murder of homosexuals. There's religious extremism, and there's . . . that.

I would've been just fine with them selecting Iran. Iran was the absolute anti-gay storyline of the year. It brought international attention to the plight of gays all around the world.

When you use the term "religious extremism" that puts a very pro-life, anti-violence Catholicism together with a bloody strain of Islam, I have to take issue.

It reminds me of those who call conservative Christians the American Taliban. It's the sign of an inability to draw crucial moral distinctions - the very worst postmodern relativism has to offer.

Mary

Radical Islamists and the Vatican are doing the same thing: hoping to recruit by enlisting the lowest common denominator. Both are wrong. Both are bad for gays. Globally.

You can call me a pomo relativist all you want - I actually disdain much poststructuralist theory - but I do wonder how the Pope's treatment of homosexuality will, in a few years, take hold in certain countries. I don't think it will be pretty.

Robbie

But the two are by no means comparable in the effect they have on homosexuals. Islamic countries execute gay people as a matter of course. Not so in predominantly Catholic countries.

You're posing a theoretical possibility against concrete occurrences in Islamic nations. Say what you will of Benedict, but he will never countenence the kinds of laws nor endorse the kinds of behaviors that are currently very, very common in Muslim societies.

With the distinctions so crystal clear, I just don't understand how you can draw equivalence.

Queer Conservative

Mary - there were no hangings of gay teenagers in St. Peter's Square last year. It was almost a national past time in Iran. And let's not forget the common beheadings for "unnatural acts" in Saudia Arabia. Compared to Islam, Christianity & Western culture are paradise for gays and lesbians.

Mary

The Pope may not officially endorse such violent behavior, but to think that his teachings and actions won't perpetuate violence against gays and lesbians is ludicrous. Yes, there are differences between Catholicism and Islam. Yes, some Muslims are violent towards gays. Yes, this is a huge problem. But to let the Vatican off the hook is, in my opinion, dangerous - so long as Radical Muslims see "enlightened" Catholics fostering identical beliefs about homosexuality and, of course, women, there will be a global problem. The actions may not be the same. But to not see these phenomena working together is reductionist and wrong.

Robbie

There is a vast difference between letting the Vatican off the hook and lumping it together with Islam. Benedict has done nothing more than give voice to what the Vatican already believed. If you read John Paul II's teachings and writings during his papacy, you'll find these attitudes well-grounded in Catholic theology. There is nothing new under the sun in the Pope's beliefs.

The only marked difference in Catholicism this year has been the gay priest controversy. And I'm sorry. When 80% of the molestation was male to male, something's up. The gay establishment can stand there and tell bald-faced lies saying it had nothing to do with gay priests, but when the majority of the abused were pubescent males, there is absolutely a problem. I don't approve of everything the Pope did, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I will not stand there and tell the outside world Benedict's actions were motivated out of sheer animus towards gays. It is the refusal of many gays to face the reality of the priest situation that led to this hardliner stance by the Church. I blame the Vatican and the Gay Rights movement for this outcome. Does it matter? Not a whit, because no one will take responsibility for it or ask the penetrating questions that need asking to get at the truth of the matter. There were issues with gay priests, and there were issues with the hierarchy shuffling around the guilty. Both sides decided they wanted to start pointing fingers at one another. Unfortunately, the Vatican is the one who had bureaucratic power on their side, so they won.

Watching gay rights activists and the Vatican trample raped children in a race to see who could blame who first in a fine game of cover-your-ass was as disgusting as it gets.

Sure the Church has screwy views on homosexuality, but no more screwy than views held by the majority of Americans a mere 15 to 20 years ago. Hell, we still can't get a majority of Americans to back gay marriage. And yet the Catholic Church is especially anti-gay and evil for their attitudes?

Sure the Church has screwy views on women. When they start advocating female castration as a matter of course, maybe then a comparison with Islam is comparable. When it tells males they have the right to rape women, maybe then they will be comparable. When it has no problems with fathers and brothers and uncles and cousins killing female family members for adultery or being raped, or dressing "provocatively," maybe then they will be comparable.

Sorry, there's just no way these two things are anywhere near equivalent. You're dealing in a lot of theoreticals, of what might happen, of what a few people could do using the Church as justification even though the Holy See condemns the behavior utterly.

Islam not only endorses that behavior, it encourages it, justifies it, seeks to export it to every nation on the globe.

That the two are not the same thing seems like basic common sense to me. Only when you start muddying it up in academic vagueries and social postulations do you start blurring the lines to the point where you can mesh the two to fit the political purpose of your choice.

Queer Conservative

Mary - I don't think anyone is saying that Christianity or Catholicism has an unblemished record on gay rights or treatment of homosexuals. But actions speak louder than words, and the actions of Islam speak louder than Pope Benedict with a megaphone.

Mary

I'm heading out the door, so this has to be quick.

Robbie: What exactly does your ideal version of the world look like? Do you think that all Muslims should be banished to Mars? Or does it make more sense to try and look at the big picture, even if through "academic vagaries and social postulations"?

(And, btw, I'm curious to know what "political purpose" I'm advancing.)

Islam is not going away - as we all know, it's growing. Something needs to be done to stop its extremist manifestations. We obviously disagree about the means here. But I'm sure we would like the same ends.

If I had to choose the "worst" religion for gays I would, like any sane person, pick Islam, but I can't see violent Islam as existing outside of religious extremism on a global scale. This is where we differ, of course. And it seems that neither or us are changing our minds.

Queer Con: I'm not suggesting that all gay hatred is totally equal, or that Catholicism is the exact equivalent of Islam. Not at all. But I do see these phenomena as related; in a very complex way, they work together.

Robbie

But I do see these phenomena as related; in a very complex way, they work together.

Mary, I truly do understand what you mean by the above.

However, words must mean something. If you lump together Catholicism and Islam under the category of religious extremism, then extremism doesn't really mean anything. We'd have to find new words. Catholicism would be religious extremism and Islam would be religious "holy fucking shit" extremism.

The phenomena of Catholicism and Islam that you see as related could hold true for just about any ideology, secular or religious. Take anti-semitism. When the Cindy Sheehans of the American Left begin making very disturbing references to Jews, anyone can use that as a justification for further Jew hatred or even actionable hatred. Why the concentration on religion when a quick glance at Free Republic or Democratic Underground proves that non-religious fanaticism is just as messed up, just as dangerous, and just as present?

My ideal world would be all nations living under liberal democracies with foundations in Enlightenment values. How can we bring that about? There is no one-size fits all solution to the Islamic problem. I think war was necessary in the Middle East to change the region. I don't think diplomacy, foreign aid, ass-kissing, wait and see approaches, and containment were the answer. I could be wrong, but hey, that's my opinion.

In Europe, I think the German state (link in the comments of the other Islam post below this one) that is working to ensure immigrants have a grasp of liberal democracy, that they respect equal rights and secular society has the right idea. If a potential immigrant would really love to live under sharia law, don't let them in. No nation is obligated to allow everyone to live within their borders.

We must begin paying careful attention to the cultures and ideologies that cross into our societies and whether or not they respect the very foundations of freedom, equality, and human rights.

North Dallas Thirty

First off, I find immense humor in the "Islam isn't so bad" argument being postulated here, inasmuch as I'm getting so much static over on Independent Gay Forum over how the presence of Islam in Iraq's constitution allegedly makes it more repressive than Iraq was under Saddam.

As for Catholicism, I think this quote from the article shows clearly the point Robbie is making about the insanity of gay "activists" (emphasis mine):

“His rhetoric is obscene. He wants gays clearly taken care of — it’s almost like the Final Solution,” said Kara Speltz, a Catholic lesbian activist for Soulforce, an organization dedicated to ending anti-gay discrimination within all religions.

As soon as Benedict begins arguing that gays should be rounded up, put into camps, and killed, Speltz might be right. But until then, she's making a comparison that only proves how hypocritical she and Soulforce are.

Michael

Why do I always see "Queers for Palestine" shirts and signs? Do they just hate Jews more than they fear Islamists? Have they no idea what happens to gays in Islamic countires, including their beloved palestine???
At least gays and lesbians are protected in Israel.

Jeff

Well Robbie, you have certainly stirred up a vibrant debate. I notice one small detail seems to have been overlooked. The Blade named the anti-gay PERSON of the year. Not the anti-gay ideology or group of the year. A subtle difference, but it seems that no single person has had such a dramatic negative impact on gay people as the Pope. And, I actually hate Islam with a passion. (no pun intended). I find it reprhensible that Muslims sit idly by while the most horrific acts are committed in the name of their religion. Do you think for one second that Evangelicals around the globe would allow a faction of radical Christians to bomb a building in Indonesia filled with tens of thousands of civilians killing 3,000 of them, and then go onto a sustained campaign of slaughtering civilians with suicide bombings? Hell no! There would be an enormous outpouring of sympathy for the victims and a complete cooperation to catch the attackers, and a vocal and vehement and sustained rejection of terrorist actions comitted in the name of their faith. And yet, we have heard very little on behalf of the worlds muslims. A brief and occasional 'condemnation' of terrorists. But while they object with one hand, they send money to the family of a bomber with the other. Further, I must point out that I also have unbridled disdain for Evangelicals. I disagree with them on just about everything, and find much of their activism to be hate based. However, last I checked, Right Wing Evangelicals and Lefty Whackadoos all seem to be playing by the rules. With very few localized exceptions, you will not find Righties or Lefties in this country blowing up kids on a bus, or taking down buildings full of people. But, you will readily find Muslims dancing in the sreets of Queens, NY as the towers burned. You will find Muslims sending tons of cash from NJ to Yemin and Iran. You will find the average Muslim here looking the other way as his cousin travels to a training camp. So, while I agree on a whole that Islam is even more hypocritical and disengenous than Right Wing Christians, I still think as a solitary person, the Pope himself is the appropriate choice. I agree the Islam itself poses a greater threat to gay people, and in the past year we have seen some of Islam's crimes make news. But, I would have to say the the Pope himself as one person is a more significant danger to gay people and the Church itself. I still find it shocking that being a member of the Hitler Youth can be overlooked. The Pope is supposed to be the vicar of Christ on earth. The human who most closely reflects the actions of Jesus. I cannot imagine Jesus of Nazareth, under any circumstances joining the Nazi party in any form. He would have accepted death instead of colusion with murderous, hateful bastards. Oh wait, he DID accept death rather than cooperate in any way with a tyrannical government. And yet, this Nazi youth has risen to take the thrown of Peter. Even Peter begged to be crucified upside down rather than serve Rome's interest. So, now we have a Nazi Pope, who thought it better to swear his allegience to an Atheist Dictator than to sacrifice his own life for the sake of his faith and countryman(or even attempt to leave the country). And that same traitor, now denies gay men one of the sacrements. And claims that gay people have no moral or social value! Well yes, the friggin towleheads are worse overall, but no single person on this planet has such an enormous impact on so many people as the Pope, and he has stated this year that I have no moral or social value. So Robbie, on the same argument that Muslims should not sit idly by as their brothers in faith slaughter innocents, I too will not stand idly by as this Nazi in the cloak of Christ says my life has no worth. And, I agree that he is the most anti gay PERSON of the year. And while I don't particularly agree with the choice of words of the activists quoted by the Blade, I applaud them for standing up and screaming out loud. Better to stand up, object and be seen, even if your slightly off the mark, than to be absolutely correct and silent.

Robbie

Michael - I've been kicking around the idea for a long post on Queers for Palestine for about two months now. I just can't do it. It's so . . . ignorant and self-loathing and awful. I just can't bring myself to deal with people who would pick Islamic terror over a gay friendly democracy.

Jeff - I was with you up right up until the Nazi youth thing. I'm no great fan of Catholicism (which is why I'm not a Catholic), but I believe criticisms of the Pope and Church should be in context (no equating them with Islam) and in good faith. The Nazi youth thing is really little more than an awful bit of exploitation by people who hate the Church. He was conscripted when he was 16 years old. I won't defend the Pope's views on homosexuality. I whole-heartedly disagree with them. But I'm not going to stand there and call the man a Nazi because of something he was forced into as a kid. That's way off base.

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