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Racism and the Ex-Gays, AGAIN

(Thanks to Ex-gay watch for the heads up)

A year ago, I posted an article suggesting that there is a relationship between racism and the Christian Right. Here is another shocking quote from an advocate of "ex-gay" groups, Dr. Gerald Schoenewolf, a member of the advisory board of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). NARTH is an organization that attempts to give crackpot "ex-gay" theories scientific legitimacy, and its President Joseph Nicolosi was featured at Boston's Love Won Out conference last October at Tremont Temple Baptist Church, a predominantly black church. Dr. Schoenewolf said:

With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America. It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle for most people, and that it was the Africans themselves who first enslaved their own people. They sold their own people to other countries, and those [slaves] brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa. But if one even begins to say these things one is quickly shouted down as though one were a complete madman.

WTF?!?!? That's because you would have to be a madman to say something this fucking racist. To think, Tremont Temple Baptist Church, a church with historic ties to abolitionism, would host an organization with an open racist on their advisory board is sick, cruel irony. I only wish we had had this quote last year to ask the pastor of Tremont Temple what he thought of Dr. Schoenewolf's comments.

Schoenewolf dregs up some shockingingly primeval justifications of the slave trade, even going back to eighteenth and nineteenth century portrayals of Africans as "savages." He rehashes the old pro-slavery arguments that America was "Christianizing" and "civilizing" Africans. The idea that Africa may have had its own, proud, sophisticated culture (nah, they were just a bunch of primitive bushmen) and may have wanted to industrialize on its own terms (yea, even that they may have had the right to do this!) escapes the good doctor.

These terms were also applied to other victims of European conquests, e.g. Native Americans, Aztecs, Incas, Africans, Indians, the Chinese, aboriginees, Arabs, etc--cultures with very different worldviews than that of Europeans.

Equally disgusting is the fact that Schoenewolf has no concept of the scope and scale of slavery's brutality in the United States. While slavery in all contexts is immoral, there is no comparison between the ravaging and kidnapping of African slaves and the slavery practiced by indigenous Africans. Slavery was practiced by Africans, but their entire economic system was not based on chattel slavery. Slavery was critical to the economic foundations of this country and the free labor gave capitalism a big kick--and led to the industrial capitalism Schoenewolf was talking about.

The problems that indigenous peoples have are often used to justify their conquest. Of course, the problems of the "civilized" Europeans with their two extraordinarily destructive world wars, not to mention their unjustifiable acts of cruelty and brutality to third world countries, are never used to suggest that the West deserves to be conquered.

Schoenewolf's comment was made in the context of a tirade against how the gay rights movement and civil rights movement used "hysteria" and "emotion" to get their points across. Now, let's see. You had millions of people living in deplorable poverty, segregated schools, under regimes of police brutality and everytime blacks protested they were confronted with angry white mobs, fire hoses, attack dogs, tear gas and horses. Add on top of that a slow federal government that had to practically be threatened into doing anything. Why in the world would black people get emotional? Again, Schoenewolf's inability to grasp the scope and scale of black suffering is incredible. So, he added this gem to his essay:

The irony is that the Civil Rights Movement has been vehement about pointing out the hysterical lynchings that took place in the old South, but completely blind to its own hysterical tactics.

Yes, the horror of a lynching (he obviously has not seen a picture of a lynching) is the same thing as advocating for being treated like a human being. And furthermore, WHAT hysterical tactics? Marching? Sitting at a lunch counter and demanding to be served? Not moving to the back of the bus?

There are a lot of other criticisms I could make of Schoenwolf's essay, such as his juvenile understanding of Marxism, its influence on contemporary political movements and his attempts to use the bogeyman of Communism to delegitimize any movement for social justice (another old tactic), but his boorish racism is more than enough to, once again, ask anti-gay black churches whose side they really want to be on.


Andrea said...

Excellent post, Brian.

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Laurel said...

Schoenewolf is retrograde, to say the least, and I would expect no better from a neanderNARTH. For me the big question is WHAT IS WRONG WITH TREMONT TEMPLE?! Have they no self respect? Perhaps they had no idea he would spout off like this, but it is no secret that these anti-gay orgs are run by well-rounded bigots. One would think it would have been expected, albeit couched in soft euphamisms as befits the kinder, gentler expression of anti-black bigotry today. So who cares about Mr Prettydog. It is the mental stability of our friends and neighbors at Tremont we should be worried about.

Anonymous said...

If one tries to analyze race relations in America and point out that the liberal solution to racial discrimination tends to reinforce victimhood--again one is quickly shouted down. We are not allowed to reason about civil rights. In fact, our whole approach to civil rights in America has been decided not by reasoned debate at all, but instead by a kind of mob rule and the hysteria of mob rule. It is the kind of mob rule described in such classic novels as The Oxbow Incident, in which a crowd of angry men are fueled by their growing hysteria to lynch an innocent man. The irony is that the Civil Rights Movement has been vehement about pointing out the hysterical lynchings that took place in the old South, but completely blind to its own hysterical tactics.

NARTH Website

Disingenous, aren't you?

Laurel said...

right anonymous, nice try! if we civil rights advocates are the ruling mob, how come the rules (laws) aren't as we "the mob" would have them? hmm? oh sorry, i was using logic there. sorry, that must have hurt.

and who's calling who disingenuous, miss anonymous? you won't even identify yourself with your name, or a pseudonym for that matter. pot meet kettle. and a pathetically uncreative kettle at that. but i suspect we wont hear anything more from you, since all you really signed on to do was to plug your hate-spewing website. deed done. bye now.

p.s. note to you christian ex-ex-gays out there: start an organization called NARTHex. [get it - narthex being the pre-sanctuary vestibule - haha] :)

Brian Rainey said...

Anonymous, I addressed his overall argument about the "hysteria" of civil rights activists. Again, I am often amazed at the lack of reading comprehension skills by anti-gay folks.

Republican Voter said...

The irony is that the Civil Rights Movement has been vehement about pointing out the hysterical lynchings that took place in the old South, but completely blind to its own hysterical tactics.

So, remember at LWO and other events, how hysterical you were?

There you go, I hit the reality switch for all y'll.

Boo said...

Yeah, it's terrible how gay rights activists have been lynching people at LWO events. That's your "reality switch"? I can definitely see the linkage between chanting slogans and holding signs versus cold blooded murder.

Carlo Baca said...

We don't often turn hoses that can rip the bark off trees on high school students or blow up churches with little girls inside. And I don't believe we've ever been so violent that the military had to be called in to intervene and protect the people we were protesting against (and no the police presence at the protest is not even close as a comparison since we were not actually violent). Were those the hysterical tactics you were trying to compare to the Love Won Out protest Republican Voter?

John Hosty said...

When reviewing the similarities between the black struggle for equality and the gay struggle for equality, it seems we inevitably have someone remark that gay people can't understand the point of view that black Americans have because we have not suffered in the same way. This seems to imply without it being said that our suffering has not been as intense, so we should not expect as much respect.

Remember for me The Holocaust. The horror of being rounded up, sometimes just because you seemed feminine, and sent to your doom. When the Allies gained control all were released from the camps, but the gays were rounded back up and put in other prisons. Attrocities are the hallmark of discrimination.

We also have no roots, as homosexuality seems to randomly occur in families. This means that we do not identify ourselves at an early age as different, and we do not have the same role models available to someone that shares a common heritage.

I see where this conversation is going, and I wanted to through this out for discussion too.

Laurel said...

John, that's a great point about gays not having lineal gay heritage because we apparently happen randomly. Really excellent point. Thanks.

Steven Keirstead said...

It's been a very long time since there were real gay riots in the US. Off hand I can only think of the Stonewall Riot in New York in 1969, and the San Fancisco riots, after Dan White was handed down the light sentence for his "Twinky induced" murder of gay City Councilor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone in 1979. I dont think anyone was killed in these incidents.