Tuesday, December 23, 2008
So, it seems that, when it comes to environmental issues and homophobia, the Pope and Rick Warren on the same page. Note also that Rick Warren has also been invited to give the keynote address at the Annual Martin Luther King Commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on January 19th. One can only imagine what the gay and lesbian community in Atlanta, and for that matter, elsewhere, feel about this voluntary legimization of one of the most notorious homophobes in this country .
Pope Benedict said on Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.
"(The Church) should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed," the pontiff said in a holiday address to the Curia, the Vatican's central administration.
"The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."
Indeed, it is one of the most bizarre consequences of Obama's election, an emerging coalition of African Americans, descendants of the civil rights legacy of King, with fundamentalists, identified primarily for their bigotry towards gays and lesbians and hostility to reproductive rights. Interestingly, conservative Catholics remain in the background. Gaius observes that E. J. Dionne interprets it as an effort to generate fundamentalist support for a progressive economic program, but he remains dubious, as do I, and for good reason. Obama is, after all, a banker's president, as reflected by his moderate to conservative economic appointments.
Obama may achieve some short term tactical successes, but, in the longer term, it will be catastrophic. Beyond instigating conflict between African Americans and proponents of gay rights, such a coalition will crash into a brick wall of demography. Americans under the age of 40 are increasingly supportive of gay rights, more and more so as their age declines, and, consistent with such a stance, reject religious fundamentalism as well. Just as Southern Democrats branded the Democratic Party as a racist one for decades, Obama is in the process of staining the Democratic Party with homophobia.
There may be a compelling necessity for such an alliance. If Obama is going to implement economic policies primarily for the benefit of the financial elite, then, he requires something other than class interest to sustain his coalition. Conservative religious and social values, in other words. Hence, he has already displayed his willingness to use gays and lesbians, and their supporters, as foils to buttress his support in Middle America. But, in the end, as Tariq Ali often says in relation to some other superficially alluring, but ultimately impractical enterprise, it can only end badly.