“The Circulation of Elites”
[This essay was also posted on my blog, A Christian Voice For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, And Transgender Rights.]
The nineteenth century Sociologist, Vilfredo Pareto, asserted that there was througout history a “circulation of elites,” where when one underclass achieves dominance it will likely turn around and discriminate against another underclass of people. Nowhere is this better seen in our day than the views of many “ultra orthodox” Jewish people and many Afro-Americans regarding the civil rights of LGBT people.
“Ultra-Orthodox Jews have rioted repeatedly in the past week, burning tires, assaulting policemen and damaging police cars. A 32-year-old ultra-Orthodox man was arrested Thursday morning carrying a homemade explosive device. Under questioning, the man said he wanted to plant the explosive along the parade route, said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.” [For the full article, see here..]
Fortunately, the Pride march in Jerusalem was successful; yet, the venom expressed by some Jewish people, many of whom lost family and loved ones in the Holocaust, presents an irony not lost on any rational person. Unfortunately, the assumption that when one minority group has a history of being a victim of oppression, destruction, and attempted genocide, members of that group would be empathetic with the plight of another minority group that is suffering from oppression and discrimination to the degree that it even frequently results in suicides, assaults, and murder. That assumption, that rational expectation, is not borne out in recent history.
Similarly, after suffering centuries of grinding oppression, slavery, segregation, humiliation, institutionalized racism, and lynchings, one would think that Afro-Americans, particularly Afro-American clergy, would be among the first to fight along the side of LGBT people for acquisition of full and equal civil and sacramental rights. Again, unfortunately, this expectation (which would be rational in a sane world) is not borne out by the evidence in contemporary society.
When we have many “ultra orthodox” Jewish people and many Afro-Americans align themselves with the equivalent of the Nazis and with the White Supremacists in their brutal rhetoric against LGBT people, we can conclude that they are, in principle, little different from the monsters who brutalized them and their ancestors in the not too distant past, and would still brutalize them were it not for the fact that the fight for equality enabled them to be in a position where it is no longer politically or socially correct for the haters in society to preach hate against either group.
So, how do many Jewish people and Afro-Americans respond to their good fortune of now having a seat at the table of society? They now turn around and do to LGBT people what was done to them in the not too distant past.
Indeed, one Afro-American pastor, Gregory Daniels, was quoted as saying that he would ride with the Ku Klux Klan in order to prevent same-sex marriage. And Rev. Jesse Jackson, viewed by many as a “liberal,” and “progressive” activist, also aligned himself with those not unlike White racists in the pre-Civil Rights era, as do so many other Afro-American clergy who, perhaps, themselves, and their ancestors suffered under the lash of grinding racism in the not too distant past; who similarly use specious arguments in an attempt to show the lack of parallels between their history of oppression and LGBT oppression in the past and continuing right up to the present time.
“‘If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them,’ Reverend Gregory Daniels, a black minister from Chicago, announced from the pulpit in February. A few eyebrows were raised, mostly in the gay community, but that reaction was overshadowed by the disappointment with a much more prominent Chicago minister, Reverend Jesse Jackson. In a speech at Harvard Law School in February, Jackson spoke out against same-sex marriage and rejected comparisons between the civil rights and gay rights movements. ‘Gays were never called three-fifths human in the Constitution,’ he said, and ‘they did not require the Voting Rights Act to have the right to vote.'” [For the full article, see here.]
Comparing respective histories of oppression is clearly beside the point; those comparisons are undoubtedly used by people like Jesse Jackson to justify their prejudices against LGBT people, as denial of equality and dignity clearly transcends varying specifics of minority groups’ historical and current experiences of oppression.
The bottom line regarding homophobic Jewish and Afro-American people is their saying, in effect, “I’ve got mine; when I persecute you or remain silent when others persecute you, I show my distaste for ‘you and your kind’, and I will not even hesitate to use such terms as ‘undesireable,’ ‘deviant,’ and ‘ruining the culture’ that were used against ‘my people’ when we were subject to oppression.”
This ironic obscenity is some legacy that these and other homophobes are leaving to future generations, isn’t it?