Beyond the Unprincipled Exception

The conservative movement’s answer to Woodward and Bernstein may have another scalp to his credit, as James O’Keefe has released footage showing that Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor privately supports gay marriage while publicly assuring voters he’s against it. Of course, the footage doesn’t actually show Senator Pryor himself saying that, but one Bailey Rae Bibb, chairman of the “Stonewall Caucus” of the Young Democrats.

Sadly, the “Stonewall Caucus” isn’t a reference to Stonewall Jackson or the traditional support Democrats had for the Confederacy, but a gay rights caucus. Bailey Rae Bibb, whom I doubt knows who Stonewall Jackson is, blusters in front of a hidden microphone, “If you tell anyone I told you that, I’m gonna find you and I’ll kill you.” Or, presumably, she’s going to post a mean note on Tumblr. One can almost imagine the Conservatism Inc. operatives giggling and imagining themselves as Bond-like secret agents escaping with enemy intelligence.

But so what? Certainly the video will have some political impact, as hypocrisy never plays well and Mark Pryor is already on the defensive against conservative challenger Tom Cotton, who has been effectively using the immigration issue against him and maintains a small lead. However, Cotton may be one of the last Republicans who maintains even nominal support for “traditional marriage” as gay rights is rapidly becoming as unquestionable as opposition to racial segregation among Republicans.

A far more important episode took place on Fox News this past Sunday. Tony Perkins, chairman of the Family Research Council appeared on Fox News Sunday to debate the Supreme Court’s decision that it would not overrule state courts who suddenly decided that state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional. He found himself on the defensive against a series of clichés offered by Ted Olson and host Chris Wallace.

Olson’s sophisticated legal argument was that gays “deserve the right to equality and the same respect and decency that other people have.” Wallace demanded of Perkins “what’s the damage to you?” if gays are allowed to marry. Perkins essentially feel back on the argument that gay marriage would disrupt his rights as a parent, and, as in Roe v. Wade, that the courts were essentially co-opting the right to decide questions that should be determined by the voters. 

Ultimately, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Tom Cotton are falling back on the same argument--we oppose gay marriage because people have the right to oppose gay marriage. The courts should leave the right to determine the definition of marriage to the people--because, right now, most people agree with us in some states (although that is changing rapidly.)  And O’Keefe is largely playing within the limits set by this kind of discourse–if Pryor simply stated his actual egalitarian position, he’d have no story. 

The manufactured consent on social issues created by the media comes from the top down. Perkins and Cotton have already conceded the key points of the egalitarian narrative. Marriage has already been destroyed because it has been established as a private institution centered on love and desire rather than as a public concern designed to facilitate the protection of property, the continuance of families, and ultimately the survival of a people. Today, it’s simply a legal scam, and less people are falling for it.

To his credit, Perkins does advance the idea that marriage is about something more than “love.” However, his desperate appeal to social science because “we know” children do best with two parents is irrelevant to the debate, regardless of whether or not it is true. Ultimately, gay marriage--which is simply an indicator of societal collapse, not a cause--is about enforcing a moral vision and is not subject to data points or empiricism.  

Ted Olson made this simplistic moral preening explicit when he said:

“The same argument that Mr. Perkins is making was made with respect to interracial marriages in 1967. Thirty-something states at one point prohibited interracial marriages. And talk about the color of the skin, people were making the same arguments, ‘Marriage is wrong between people of different races, we have to stop that.’”

Of course, anyone who has taken an introductory philosophy course is in full revolt at the logical fallacies on display here. It’s also worth noting that elsewhere in the interview Chris Wallace is mocking Perkins for subscribing to the slippery slope argument that polygamy will follow in the wake of gay marriage. However, Olson’s argument in support of gay marriage essentially concedes the point, because after all, if everyone “deserves the right to equality,”  gay marriage is obviously only the beginning.

But let’s humor Olson. Though Tony Perkins has been a leading voice in trying to separate the religious right from racial considerations and pointlessly seeking a separate peace with the media, there is obviously a link in regards to how the issue developed. Most people, at least in the South, would have been opposed to desegregation at the time it was imposed by force. However, few White Southerners today would openly challenge the Civil Rights Act and those who do quickly reverse themselves after media pressure.

Political opinions and decisions cannot be judged in light of what history has judged to be morally right or wrong but in terms of how successful they were in achieving the objectives set at the time they were made. And from that point of view, the segregationists were right--not just right, but spectacularly so. Few still believe the implicit desegregationist premise that blacks were simply Whites with a different skin tone, and the faulty sociology that drove the Supreme Court decision is now a historical footnote rather than anything which is taken seriously.

From the perspective of 1955, segregationists would be quite justified in saying, “We told you so.” Cities like Birmingham are all but completely destroyed, as Whites fled to the suburbs to escape. Public schools are a disaster. A violent black underclass is essentially paid off with massive wealth transfers and welfare benefits, while the so-called “talented tenth” is given a different kind of handout through affirmative action jobs in government and preferences in hiring, education, and government contracts. Sending a White child to a majority black public school is all but equivalent to child abuse.

In the interview, Olson asks if Perkins wants “the sky to fall” if he lives next door to a gay couple. The same kind of apocalyptic language could be asked of segregationists today. However, they would have an answer. Yes, civilization continues and the United States was not totally destroyed. That said, the kind of things ordinary European-Americans could take for granted--such as accessible and safe public transportation, education, basic infrastructure, and competent local government--no longer exist.  To find these things, you have to make more money, live farther away, and withdraw from public institutions that no longer provide services but simply exist as a kind of parasite upon the White taxpayer.

Similarly, gay marriage is not going to make a difference to the average person. However, the larger deconstruction of the family that it heralds already has had a huge impact. The rising number of children born out of wedlock and the resulting social dysfunction is a catastrophe. The knowledge that courts will impose draconian divorce settlements on men or take away their children are one reason marriage rates for heterosexuals are plummeting, even as homosexual groups ostensibly demand access to the institution. And the falling birth rates of First World populations as increasing numbers of people think it is either too costly or too stressful to bring up children in degenerate societies will lead to the wholesale replacement of Western populations in the not too distant future.

For the average person, both the abolition of marriage and mass Third World immigration will just be annoyances at the margin as they live their day-to-day bourgeois life. There will be increasing taxes, more traffic congestion, crappier public schools, and more pressure on families. But because it won’t literally be in the form of overt violent repression, most people won’t notice it. And in the cases where there is overt repression--like city governments demanding the sermons of pastors or businesses being closed because they won’t get on board the Equality Train--there are enough media distractions that the news will quickly fade.

Ted Olson lost his wife Barbara in the September 11 attacks, and Ann Coulter’s famous “Bomb their cities, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity” column was mostly a tribute to her murdered friend. It was Coulter’s last, shall we say, “policy suggestion” that created the most anger as the first two became government policy in the days after 9/11. The charge of cultural specificity and the acknowledgement that “we” are different from “them” is far more offensive to most Americans, including conservatives, than killing or being killed. We can justify anything, even mass violence, as long as it is expressed in universalistic terms.

Conservatives oppose gay marriage because many of their voters oppose gay marriage. However, neither the voters nor the politicians seem to be able to give a good reason why besides an appeal to tradition. Such an appeal doesn’t work because conservatives have already conceded so much to the egalitarian narrative regarding sexual politics. Opposition to gay marriage is a textbook case of the “unprincipled exception” to liberalism critiqued by the late Lawrence Auster. Once you concede no-fault divorce, female liberation, the primacy of “love,” and the “pursuit of happiness,” the only arguments left to oppose gay marriage are the Word of God and the results of science, and both the men of the cloth and of the academy seem to be on the other side.

The solution for Traditionalists is not to go through the other side but beyond. Marriage needs to be re-formulated as what it originally was--a social institution that should receive state, church, and cultural backing as a public good designed to achieve public ends. To flip the Narrative, Perkins could have proposed just such a program, conceding that a “gay marriage” is already equal to the worthless farce that constitutes a heterosexual state “marriage” today and that returning the latter to a real meaning should be the priority for conservatives. Proposing legal consequences for adultery or requiring prenuptial agreements that impose consequences for breaking a marriage contract would be examples. 

Similarly, the solution to the collapse of White America is to begin building explicit White communities and withdrawing consent or concern for a system determined to make multiculturalism work. Trying to prop up a failing system simply isn’t worth the effort.

But we’re not going to get that from the American conservative movement. It will just be the same slow motion retreat along the predictable path that we’ve seen for the past half century. It’s already a foregone conclusion that the conservative movement will soon be defending gay marriage. The real question is when, as with desegregation, they will start demanding credit for having invented it.