Tuesday, November 16, 2004


A powerful Op-Ed in the Washington Post on Rove's election treatment of gays. And also check out the author's last name, very appropriate for the issue.

Here's what Republicans of conscience have to understand about the machinations of Karl Rove and company. Fear isn't some emotion that can be easily bottled back up after it's been -- viciously -- unleashed. It isn't a once-every-four-years vehicle that can be wheeled out for a few months, then stowed back in the garage to be retooled for the next election cycle. Encouraging fundamentalist preachers to pound their pulpits and inveigh against gay people has consequences. It puts men and women in communities across this country at personal and professional risk. There's nothing more despicable than creating a phony political issue (just how many gay couples are clamoring for marriage certificates in the state of Ohio, anyhow?) and preying on people's prejudices.

So now it's up to discerning Republicans to wrestle with this quandary: You won all right, but at what cost? What happened to the party that once shared Abraham Lincoln's faith in the "better angels of our nature"? That fifth-grade teacher taught me to appreciate how -- through Lincoln's resolve -- our nation overcame a cataclysm of hate to stop the Union from dissolving. Back then, certain avatars of ignorance were called Know-Nothings, which, come to think of it, is an apt description of more than a few right-wingers today.

"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid," Lincoln wrote in the years leading up to the Civil War. "As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except Negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

There are a lot of Republicans troubled by their party's exploitation of contemporary know-nothingism. You know who you are. And before your party's degeneracy is complete, you ought to do something about it. Because camouflaging the fear and loathing of gay people as "moral values" isn't the base alloy of hypocrisy. It's hypocrisy itself.


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