Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Op-Ed About GOP Lt. Gov. Candidate E.W. Jackson

Google Alerts failed me.

For readers unfamiliar with Google Alerts, Wikipedia provides a succinct definition:

Google Alerts is a content change detection and notification service, offered by the search engine company Google, that automatically notifies users when new content from news, web, blogs, video and/or discussion groups matches a set of search terms selected by the user and stored by the Google Alerts service. The results are delivered as an email digest to a gmail account. The service is available to the general public as an open beta release.
I use Google Alerts to track a couple of dozen topics, including iterations on my name and an organization to which I belong, Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL).

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that included a reference to GLIL and, of course, included my name in the byline. I submitted it to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star but never received a reply from the editor.

It came as a surprise to me when, on Sunday, I discovered by chance that the Free Lance-Star had published the piece on Sunday, July 21. In the intervening three weeks, Google Alerts never let me know about it. (Neither, for that matter, did the Free Lance-Star itself.)

E.W. Jackson and Rick Sincere
The article was about the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson. Two days before the GOP state convention on May 18, I predicted on Coy Barefoot's radio show in Charlottesville that, of the seven candidates for lieutenant governor, two would lose on the first ballot and be dropped out of the competition: state Senator Steve Martin and E.W. Jackson.

I was half-right.

Jackson took the convention by storm and eventually got the nomination on the fourth ballot, after a good portion of delegates had left the Richmond Coliseum to go home. Nobody I know -- outside of Jackson's own group of supporters -- predicted, or could have predicted, his victory. Not even his opponents took him seriously as a rival.

That may be why some of the more eccentric statements by Jackson made prior to the convention never made it into general circulation until after he secured the nomination.

One of these instances was an interview with Peter LaBarbera on AmericansforTruth.com. Immediately after the nominating convention, people -- primarily liberal Democrats, but not exclusively so -- glommed onto his statements about gay people, such as:
Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.
That's social-conservative boilerplate, and therefore not very interesting.

What did interest me, as a non-liberal, non-progressive gay activist, were his remarks that gay men and lesbians are universally and uniformly "authoritarian" and "totalitarian":
Chesapeake clergyman E.W. Jackson said that gay men and lesbians have "an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit that has decided they know what's best for everyone."

Jackson repeated the characterization when he said: "I used two words to describe what they're trying to do: 'authoritarian' and 'totalitarian,' and I believe that. I believe that they are of a mindset that says we want to destroy, in any way we need to, anyone who dares oppose this agenda. That's a very, very dangerous approach."
Had Jackson said that "some" or even "most" gay people have these characteristics, I might have cut him some slack. I, myself, have been assailed by leftists because I'm not a liberal Democrat. One radio host even accused me, on the air, of not being gay because I didn't adhere to a liberal agenda (in that particular case, with regard to the Boy Scouts of America's pending freedom-of-association case before the U.S. Supreme Court). I retorted that both of his listeners would have reason to disagree -- but that was a long time ago.

My purpose in writing the article that appeared in the Free Lance-Star was to point out that gay men and lesbians are not monolithic in their political views and that many of us even share the basic values that Jackson claims to hold. I noted:
While there are radicals within any political movement, whether right or left, the totalitarian impulse is rare and exists only on the fringes.

Indeed, Jackson's words are at odds with the attitudes and activities of a large number of gay and lesbian Americans whose core beliefs are keenly attuned to the values of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" that Jackson claims animate his own political agenda.
In the article, I mentioned three organizations that mitigate against Jackson's blinkered view: Log Cabin Republicans, Pink Pistols, and Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty. Were it not for space considerations, I could also have pointed out the existence of GOProud and Outright Libertarians, or even the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL, an anti-abortion group).

It irritates me when politicians -- or anyone, for that matter -- make blanket statements about groups of individuals without having the evidence to back them up. To assert that all gay men and all lesbians are "authoritarian" or "totalitarian" is not only baseless, it's slanderous.

I concluded my Free Lance-Star article:
Whether E.W. Jackson was the right choice for the Republican Party's lieutenant governor nominee is a broader topic best left to other days and other commentators.

One thing is clear, however: His blanket condemnation of gay citizens as wanting to oppress other Americans through "authoritarian" and "totalitarian" methods lacks factual foundation. He should withdraw that accusation and acknowledge that there are many gay men and lesbians who share his fundamental desire for strong families, free markets, and smaller, less intrusive government.
The Republican party and the conservative movement are "big tents" that are, essentially, part of a broader "leave us alone" coalition. People with different backgrounds and different personal characteristics come together to elect public officials who share basic goals but who might disagree about certain issues. That's what coalition politics is all about. To exclude anyone from potential membership in that coalition is bad politics. As former Virginia Congressman Tom Davis likes to say, "politics is a game of addition, not subtraction."

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