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Who’s Really ‘Hijacking’ the Civil Rights Movement?

Jeremy Hooper points out something that I’d somehow missed while discussing the religious right’s claim to being the true heirs of Martin Luther King. He quotes a Tweet sent out by Bryan Fischer recently that said, “When it comes to the loss of civil rights, Christian is the new black.” He replies:

Isn’t the religious right always claiming that gay is “chosen” and therefore cannot be analogous to race?…

With the far-right anti-LGBT crowd, the victim meme trumps all. “You’re hijacking the civil rights movement!” they scream at anyone who dare note the obvious overlap between two minority populations’ respective (but also shared) struggles for freedom. However, when that same sort of “hijacking” serves the false narrative of persecution that has become the anti-LGBT crowd’s daily bread and not-as-slick-as-they-think butter, what was once a militant takeover of a past struggle becomes a fair rhetorical tool. Funny how that works (but not funny “ha ha”).

It’s the same inconsistency they show when discussing anti-discrimination law. We can’t prohibit discrimination against gay people because that’s a choice, unlike race. But religion is also a choice and we forbid discrimination on that basis. If they really believed their argument, they’d be trying to have religion removed as a protected category in our anti-discrimination laws. But they aren’t. Because they don’t really believe their argument, they’re just engaged in special pleading.

Comments

  1. glodson says

    There is an underlying intellectual dishonesty here. We see it often in these fights. Of course they are making special pleadings, but it isn’t have the the basic logic behind these premises. It is about making sure that their point of view is the one pushed. Men like Fischer likely know(I’m not entirely sure about this, he really could be just that stupid) that they are talking out of both sides of their mouths, and co-opting the idea of civil rights as a rallying cry for their supporters.

  2. dmcclean says

    This is similar to how they pushed for the RLUIPA but can’t abide the construction of mosques and try to fight them through zoning and related red tape.

  3. jameshanley says

    they’re just engaged in special pleading

    Why bother pleading at all if you’re not going to make it special?

  4. jamessweet says

    So, there’s an element of this that is not entirely special pleading… It hurts the case for 14th Amendment coverage as a “suspect class” if the class is chosen. But religion has no such issue, because it’s explicitly protected by the 1st Amendment, and has no need to invoke the 14th.

    It’s a bullshit technicality, and I feel pretty confident saying this is not really what the wingnuts have consciously in mind when they make their case. But, civil rights aside, there is an element of truth here at least when applied to case law.

  5. jeevmon says

    The modern religious right does have deep ties to the history of the civil rights movement. They were the ones fighting racial integration. On the grounds that it was contrary to Scripture.

  6. cptdoom says

    So, there’s an element of this that is not entirely special pleading… It hurts the case for 14th Amendment coverage as a “suspect class” if the class is chosen. But religion has no such issue, because it’s explicitly protected by the 1st Amendment, and has no need to invoke the 14th.

    It’s a bullshit technicality, and I feel pretty confident saying this is not really what the wingnuts have consciously in mind when they make their case. But, civil rights aside, there is an element of truth here at least when applied to case law.

    Actually, I don’t believe the 1st Amendment has anything to do with it. AFAIK, there has not been the history of cases using either the 1st or the 14th Amendments to argue against anti-religious discrimination. Certainly the 14th can be used to argue against governmental discrimination based on either religion or, as it was often during th 50s and 60s, race, but that would only apply to governmental regulations and facilities. Thus, the interstate bus system, controlled by the feds, had to desegregate its facilities (or at least were supposed to, the Freedom Riders existed because the states in the South simply refused to comply), but that ruling would not have applied to private companies like Woolworth’s. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was specifically needed to outlaw discrimination based on religion in private companies that were nonetheless “public accommodations.”

  7. says

    They have to go through these gymnastics because they know their real reason for opposing equality for homosexuals (we think it’s icky) doesn’t make a compelling argument.

  8. vmanis1 says

    At the risk of Godwinning the thread, I must point out that the Nazis claimed that their territorial claims on Czechoslovakia and Poland were for relieving the oppression of the supposedly persecuted German minorities in these countries.

    It’s an old tactic.

  9. naflrigdlab says

    I am not certain religion is a choice.

    That uncertainty is rooted in my opinion that beliefs are not choices but are in fact byproducts of life experience.

    That is my argument against those believers who would say that I choose to be an atheist and that I need to choose to believe in God.

    Beliefs are not choices. People can act as though they believe, but that does mean they really believe.

    I consider that to be true of my atheism and do not see why it should be different for a believer.

    Having said that religion does involve some choice. I do not think a Christian chooses to be a Christian, but they do decide which church to attend, how often to attend, how involved in church functions they are, etc…

  10. naflrigdlab says

    Correction (any way to edit posts?)…

    “Beliefs are not choices. People can act as though they believe, but that does mean they really believe.”

    should be

    “Beliefs are not choices. People can act as though they believe some particular thing, but that does not mean they really believe it.”

  11. matty1 says

    Hmm, we are getting towards philosophy here (free will vs determinism etc) but I’d say religious beliefs are as much or as little a choice as political views, favourite sport or whether you are vegetarian. All those things are influenced by the life you have led and for all of them you will find some people who proclaim that they freely picked X because it was the best option and some who claim that X is simply part of their identity that could never be different.

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