Friday, November 7, 2014

Fascism, Hate, and Deception

One of the more lamentable casualties of our modern politics and the ideological polarization of the country over the last few decades is the erosion of tolerance for people whose views fall outside the mainstream of fashionable opinion. The classical liberal tolerance espoused by people like 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill who argued so eloquently in his book On Liberty for the proposition that almost any dissenting idea should be allowed free expression is hard to find among those who call themselves liberals today.

Mill's argument that society benefits from hearing diverse opinions and that permitting them is the only way to honor a commitment to truth has been rejected by those who a generation ago were claiming his views on free expression as their own. Today, especially on the left, any opinion that deviates from the orthodox position is seen as an ideological cancer that must be destroyed, along with the person who holds it.

Among no group, perhaps, is this more noticeably the case than among gay rights activists. One flagrant example is that of Robert Oscar Lopez, an associate professor of English at California State-Northridge University. Lopez tells the story of his ordeal at the hands of the gay rights inquisitors in an article in First Things. Here's the heart of it:
I am a professor of English and Classics at Cal State-Northridge, where I began teaching in 2008 after earning my doctorate in English and MA in Classics from SUNY. I specialize in American literature and published a scholarly study of American writers and conservatism in 2011.

On August 6, 2012, I published an essay in Public Discourse, entitled “Growing Up with Two Moms.” It described my life growing up with a lesbian mother and her partner. Discussion of same-sex parenting until that point generally treated the children of gay parents as extensions of gay adults. Whatever was good for gay adults was presumed to benefit children they raised. No serious consideration was given to divergence between the children’s interests and the interests of gay adults who wanted and loved them. My point was this:
Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. People in our community didn’t really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A’s. Inside, however, I was confused.
There were loving things about my childhood, but it was hard. That is all I wanted to say. I didn’t argue anything about gay marriage or even gay adoption. Eventually I did come to voice support for traditional marriage laws, but here I only spoke out of my own experience.

The same day, I received an email from someone named Scott “Rose” Rosenzweig, the first of more than a dozen. His message went to my Cal State account and was copied to colleagues and administrators, saying among other things,

Recently, CSUN’s Lopez published a gay-bashing essay ... on the website of the Witherspoon Institute....[F]or reference, Lopez’s politicized gay-bashing is here.
Note how this distorts my essay from personal reminiscence to “gay-bashing,” an inflammatory charge on a college campus, the first in a relentless twenty-six months of harassment.
This was only the beginning for Lopez. He goes on to recount an incessant stream of lies, distortions, and hatred to which he has been subjected simply because he talked about the pain of his childhood with a lesbian mother and her partner. The persecution he has suffered makes for fascinating and very troubling reading, and I encourage you to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with it. Here's a portion of it:
Soon I was getting hit by writers all across the web. A piece on August 9, 2012, in Frontiers LA affixed my photograph and began with the line, “Perhaps you know Cal State Northridge bisexual professor Robert Oscar Lopez—and hence might understand why he wants to cozy up to the antigay National Organization for Marriage.”

At that time I had no connection to the National Organization for Marriage, yet as late as September 2014, the Human Rights Campaign would still claim that I spoke at NOM “March for Marriage” rallies. All of this would be jarring news for NOM, since I support gay civil unions and foster care eligibility for gay couples.

Against these charges, I tried to explain myself, even writing a three-thousand-word rebuttal in Frontiers LA, but the misrepresentations continued.

On August 14, 2012, the campaign reached my workplace in a whole new way when my dean informed me that I would have to turn over all emails from January 2009 onward that had anything to do with Mark Regnerus and his research team, Witherspoon Institute, Bradley Foundation, NOM, U.S. elected officials, the Romney campaign, Republican National Committee, and University of Texas officials.

A team of IT workers and student employees were allowed to access emails and turn them over to my off-campus accusers.

For a year, the provost’s office, dean’s office, and president’s office at Northridge were barraged with angry emails denouncing me and demanding that the university take action.
There are several ironies in his story. One is that Lopez is himself a bisexual who supports gay marriage. Another is that the attempt to censor him and to destroy his career comes from people who themselves have for years demanded tolerance of their own beliefs about sexuality and would have insisted that hiring and firing on the basis of sexual preference is a violation of their civil and human rights. Yet they refuse to extend the same tolerance to those who offer an alternative point of view to the narrative they wish to advance about sexuality in our society.

A lecture delivered by Dr. Lopez at Stanford on the Architecture of the Family can be viewed here.

Fascism is alive and well today, but it's not a phenomenon of the right as is so often thought. It's contemporary practitioners are found most prominently on the left, especially on many of our elite university campuses.