With all this talk about “special rights” the Republican Party likes to indulge in you have to ask yourself how they interpret a special right. They claim it is a right nobody else has, but of course what it really amounts to is claiming a right everybody else already has.
For example, heterosexuals don’t get fired for being heterosexual in any of our 50 states. Christians don’t get fired for being Christian. I have yet to hear of a person being fired because they are white and if being a heterosexual white evangelical Christian male is illegal anywhere it comes as news to me; though to hear them talk heterosexual white evangelical Christian males are on the endangered species list.
Funny how heterosexual white evangelical Christian males think they’re the only species who should be on that list.
But you can be fired if you are gay, lesbian, or transgender. It’s perfectly legal in over half our 50 states. So if heterosexuals can’t be fired but gays, lesbians, and transgenders can, how is it special rights to give members of the LGBTQ community the same rights everybody else already has? If heterosexuals can be married, how it is special rights to grant gays and lesbians the same privilege?
The only special rights are the rights of those who have more rights than everybody else. And that would be those heterosexual white evangelical Christian males.
And that’s just the way they like it.
You see, that was the status quo for the better part of our nation’s history. Woe betide anyone who was black, Jewish, Catholic, or Native American, or later Mexican, or female or later Irish or any of a number of other things that weren’t sufficiently WASP-ish.
People did not get to join the club of privilege without permission just like they can’t golf in a golf club without permission; “whites only” may be a thing of the past but conservatives cling tenaciously to “men only”. That’s why only men – not women – can talk about women’s vaginas in the legislature. Any women who dares mention her vagina – as Michigan state representative Lisa Brown recently found out – is instantly silenced.
Conservatism has always been very clear about who the undesirables are. It’s a good fit for religions based on the idea of being better than everybody else. It would be impossible for liberalism to have such a cozy relationship with religion, given liberalism’s focus on freedom and individual human rights, which is, after all, a very secular ideal.
LZ Granderson hits the nail on the head. Writing in an opinion piece for CNN, he talks about “the secret gay agenda.” The gay agenda is of course a conservative buzzword and it has strong emotional appeal in that it generates a high pucker factor among religious conservatives especially. But as Granderson points out, there is no mystery to the “gay agenda”:
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the gay agenda, but may not know what’s in it. Here’s what you do: Download a copy of the United States Constitution, read it. Everything the LGBT community wants is in there.
You could say the same for any repressed minority, ethnic, religious, or political. Everybody just wants the same rights – like the Constitution promises. Not just those heterosexual white evangelical Christian males.
That is a threat to long-standing privilege. Having spent over 200 years in a position of power they do not now want to let it go. It would be hard enough for any group, probably, but for a conservative far worse, since conservatism is all about the status quo.
As Granderson points out – as I’ve pointed out here myself – without the 13th and 19th Amendments, blacks and women would not be so much a part of our political landscape that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton could aspire to be president. And it isn’t conservatism that was behind those amendments and its no surprise today that they are among those targeted for elimination by conservatives.
In today’s conservative parlance, freeing the slaves was granting them special rights. Nobody else was freed, after all. Granting women the voting franchise was another special right granted. To the warped conservative mind, anything that grants anybody rights that heterosexual white evangelical Christian males already possess is a special right.
Even when laws are passed that you would assume apply to everyone, like Stand Your Ground laws, they don’t really allow for black people to shoot anyone. That’s just white folks. Same as their “religious freedom” talk – it really only applies to Christians, not to Muslims or Pagans or atheists, and until recently, certainly not to Mormons.
It’s one thing to be conservative. You certainly have a right to support the status quo. There have always been people who did that, but its another thing entirely to legislate other viewpoints out of existence; to delegitimize those other viewpoints, as Republicans have done and are attempting to do with liberalism, using the Bible as a hammer of divine right to argue that only those heterosexual white evangelical Christian males are “real” Americans. That you have to be white, Christian and male, to hold the highest office in the land, and satisfy at least two of those requirements to hold any office at all.
It is no mystery why most blacks vote Democrat; it is no mystery why you don’t see blacks or women getting the support of the Republican Party when it comes to presidential elections. It’s tradition that blacks stick to the cotton fields or work as butlers to white folks, and for women to stay in the kitchen, take care of the babies and feed their men-folk while the men-folk take care of all the “decider” stuff. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld showed us all how good they are at that.
The fact that as Granderson points out, the 14th Amendment says “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” means nothing to the status quo and its defenders. Those uppity amendments (except for the 2nd and the 10th) don’t really apply, after all.
That those two amendments alone seem sacrosanct to the conservative mind. That sort of thinking and legislation like Stand Your Ground laws and the recently defeated Wife Beater bill in North Dakota comes only from conservatives, and it clearly shows that the conservative attitude is this: “We can do what we want; the rest of y’all just shut up and know your role. If you don’t like it, we can always shoot you.” But you may as well be shot because without healthcare, you’re going to die anyway. One way is just quicker than the other and we already know they’re more than willing to oblige.
Shut up. Know your role. Or die. That, in a nutshell, is the Republican platform for 2012.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.