The Liberal Intifada
This essay was published yesterday by BreachBangClear.
When I was a UN cop in Kosovo, I read Serbian literature about the war. The Serbs sometimes referred to the Albanian resistance as an intifada, a Muslim uprising. This was right after the Palestinian intifada began in 2000, when the West was becoming increasingly concerned with Islamic terrorism. The Arabic word intifada fit the view we had of Muslim extremism.
But the word didn’t make sense. Albanians never referred to their resistance as an intifiada. Almost none speak Arabic. Their war was NOT “Islam vs. Christian”, it was Albanian vs. Serb. One Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army leader even rejected the services of experienced mujahedin volunteers, and proclaimed “This is not a religious war”. About 10% of Albanians are Catholic, and all Albanians seemed proud of their Catholic monastery in the city of Peja. Some Albanians I knew outright rejected religion, and most who professed faith in Islam still drank alcohol, didn’t fast during Ramadan, had sex before marriage and never went to a mosque. Pakistani police officers went nuts because Albanians routinely ignored prayer call. It’s not an exaggeration to say Albanians are the least devout Muslims in the world.
There was no intifada. There was a vicious, brutal war between two ethnic groups with a long history of mutual hatred and abuse. But by using the word intifada, Serbs were making a deliberate (and transparent) attempt to link Albanian resistance with Muslim extremism. Intifada defined the war in a specific way: Muslim terrorists against brave, righteous Christians.
Thirteen years later, as controversy swirls around anti-gay comments made by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, I see liberals making use of the same tactic. But their word isn’t intifada. It’s “phobia”.
A recent Huffington Post article was titled “Phil Robertson Homophobic Past Resurfaces In 2010 Sermon”. Us magazine published “Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty Makes Homophobic Remarks, Groups Gays With ‘Terrorists’ and ‘Drunkards’”. Eonline.com has an article titled “Clay Aiken on Phil Robertson’s Anti-Gay Controversy: Society Still Accepts Homophobia”, in which Aiken is quoted as saying, “Homophobia, racism, all of it’s built out of fear, and if you grow up in an area like Louisiana and you’re not exposed to diversity, then you can be afraid of things.”
What’s striking about these articles is their unanimous voice. No question seems to exist in the writers’ minds about Robertson’s alleged “phobia”. His fear is an article of their faith.
Recently I had a discussion with a very liberal, intelligent and reasonable friend. We discussed several conservative concerns: illegal immigration, political correctness, the War on Terror, etc. My friend insisted all those concerns were rooted in some type of fear. Fear of change, fear of harm, fear of “others”. None of our concerns were rational.
Fear. Phil Robertson, possibly the most self-assured born-again Christian in America, is really just terrified of homosexuals. When a gay man comes within a mile of Robertson, he panics worse than a cartoon elephant running from a mouse. And if anyone shares Phil’s incredulity at gay male desire, or repeats their religion’s prohibition on homosexuality, it’s not because they simply disagree with homosexuality. It’s because they’re “afraid”.
The discussion has been engineered thusly: if you object to anything homosexual, you’re afraid. Scared people aren’t rational. If you don’t support gay marriage, or you think homosexuality is a sin, you can’t possibly be an intelligent, reasonable person. You’re scared. You’re defensive. You needn’t be listened to. Your opinion means nothing. In a debate your only worth is as a target of derision, an example of how fear makes us animalistic idiots. The very term “phobic” is a pejorative, a way to paint us as lesser beings than elitist progressives.
I’m not anti-gay, although I generally oppose gay marriage (and at least one gay writer, Brandon Ambrosino, recently wrote in Time magazine, “It’s quite possible to throw one’s political support behind traditional, heterosexual marriage, and yet not be bigoted”). I don’t have an issue with homosexuals. I’ve studied, lived and served with them. I thought gays should have been allowed to serve openly in the military even before President Clinton passed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I’m devoutly agnostic and don’t view homosexuality as a sin. I think Robertson’s religiously-based comments were stupider than they were offensive.
I have no qualms with gays in American society. But I have a big problem with anyone who defines me as afraid just because I disagree with them.
This is, of course, not the first time progressives have tried to define their way to moral victory. They also labeled anyone legitimately concerned with Islamic terrorism as an “Islamophobe”. Progressives painted themselves almost as modern-day Dr. Frankensteins, kind-hearted and intelligent, defending the innocent-yet-misunderstood against a terrified mass of uneducated, pitchfork-wielding peasants.
I lived and worked with Muslims in Kosovo. I repeatedly put my life in Muslim soldiers’ hands in Afghanistan. I still maintain contact with Muslim friends overseas. I recently helped a Muslim woman write her first novel. And I’m extremely concerned about the long history of Muslim terrorism against my country.
What does that make me? An “Islamophobe”. I’m not a reasonable guy who spent years comfortably living and working with Muslims. I’m actually scared of them. Really.
Likewise, my years of hanging out with gay friends mean nothing. I have no problem with “civil unions”, I think those unions should be legally the same as marriages, but I believe “marriage” should be between a man and woman. That makes me “homophobic”. The gay soldiers and police officers I’ve befriended and sometimes risked my life with aren’t actual friends. I’m afraid of them. My beliefs are driven by fear, not reason. Really.
Progressives, please read the following. I’m going to make a probably-vain attempt to reason with you. I expect most of you to dismiss it because I’m a “[insert progressive sacred cow]-phobe”. But anyway, here goes:
When I hear Westboro Baptist Church members spout their hateful nonsense, I hope someone beats them all senseless. But I’m not being Westborophobic. I just don’t like them.
When I see Code Pink protestors on TV dancing and singing while blocking the doors of military recruiting offices, I consider them stupid fools who are all show and feelings but no real action. But I’m not being CodePinkophobic. I just don’t like Code Pink.
When I hear gangster rappers preaching murder, robbery, drug use and misogyny to their own race, I blame them for doing more damage to the black community than the Klan ever even tried to. But I’m not being gangstarapophobic. I just detest gangster rappers.
When I see a Muslim man wearing western clothes in downtown Austin followed by a wife covered head to toe in black as if she was in the Saudi desert, I get angry because I think female subservience is completely counter to American ideals and freedom. But I’m not being Islamophobic. I just don’t like the way some people practice Islam.
When Stephen King insulted soldiers by suggesting the Army and wartime service are only for illiterates, I decided never to read another King novel. But I’m not being StephenKingophobic. I just think he’s a jerk.
I’ve never watched an episode of Duck Dynasty and have no plans to. When Duck Dynasty comes on, I change the channel because I have zero interest in a scripted reality show about self-described bible-thumping rednecks. But I’m not DuckDynastyophobic. I just don’t like Duck Dynasty.
When the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) reinforces stereotypes of hysterical, hypersensitive gays by shrieking in protest until a deeply religious man is fired for honestly answering a question about his beliefs, I think GLAAD is desperately trying to bully all of us into agreeing with them. But no, I’m not being GLAADophobic. I just think GLAAD sucks.
None of the aforementioned people or activities should be restricted. Westboro morons have every right to keep being morons. Rappers can keep encouraging the destruction of their own communities. Stephen King can go on insulting guys like me. Muslims can dress however they want. Duck Dynasty can keep pretending it’s a reality show. GLAAD can keep throwing tantrums. Nobody deserves to be fired just because I don’t like their opinions. I have no fear of anything these people say or do, even if I don’t like them.
Maybe progressives needs to abandon their intifada. Because conservatives aren’t acting scared. But progressives, by trying to silence dissenting voices, and by falsely painting their opponents as “phobic”, certainly are.
Filed under: Writing | 28 Comments
Tags: GLAAD, homophobia, Phil Robertson