In the light of traditional morality, homosexual practices are a vice. The promotion of “gay pride” has long been part of the “transvaluation of values” promoted by the countercultural left and it proved useful in the campaign against laws prohibiting homosexual acts. Hitching its wagon to the rhetoric of equality and civil rights, the campaign has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its advocates. To defend the virtue of traditional marriage is to court denunciation as a bigot. For defenders of traditional marriage, there is no plea for toleration.
The campaign for homosexual equality seems to me to be about something other than “freedom” or “toleration” or “equal rights.” The campaign in its present mode compels us to get our minds right, to borrow the resonant phrase of the jailers in Cool Hand Luke. The proponents of “equality” demand our inner assent. We are not to withhold our approval; disapproval is prohibited. If sexual practices are akin to racial characteristics, perhaps there is a logic to the reorientation that the new civil rights regime means to engineer.
This is one campaign for rights that brooks no dissent. It lies within the beating authoritarian heart of contemporary liberalism.
To the extent that the campaign for gay rights hasn’t already routed the opposition, it is undoubtedly (to borrow another resonant phrase, this one from the ’30s) the wave of the future. The latest evidence of the wave is Apple CEO Tim Cook’s proclamation last week in BloombergBusinessWeek, published under the heading “Tim Cook speaks up.” Cook declares:
So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.
What exactly is Cook proud of with respect to his homosexuality? He explains:
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.
I’m not sure how seriously to take this. It doesn’t withstand much in the way of critical thought, but the words are soothing and we are inclined to go with the flow.
I don’t know what religion Cook follows, but I’d have mischievously suggested conversion to Judaism if he really wanted a taste of life in the minority. In addition to getting a feel for the challenges faced by minority groups every day, to the extent that he adhered to the precepts of the faith, he might make himself a slightly better man to boot. It’s part of the package.
If he really wanted to walk on the wild side among the techies and gazillionaires in Silicon Valley, he could join the Republican Party. But that isn’t what he thinks it means to live in the minority. Not at all. I doubt that he’ll be “coming out” as a Republican any time soon.
Cook suggests that his homosexuality has helped him “to rise above adversity and bigotry.” Thus the new tolerance. It’s all part of what Jonah Goldberg calls the “liberal Gleichschaltung.” As Jonah explains: “Every institution must be on the same page. Every agency must advance the liberal agenda.” All in the name of “freedom” and “equality” and “rights,” of course.