Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Minority Rights

I friend of mine shared a piece by Damon Linker about transgender rights, the current "Bathroom Wars" and - as Linker put it - "liberals latest lazy cultural crusade."

His argument is that it's a political loser, and Obama just caved to left wing culture warriors out of laziness.  As Linker says, he can't understand it because "I'm not the right kind of liberal."  His basic argument is this:
For far too many contemporary liberals, that kind of informal, grassroots pressure from civil society never seems to be good enough. Too lazy and impatient to do the hard work of formulating arguments and trying to persuade, and too addicted to sanctimonious displays of moral righteousness, these liberals now prefer to use the ever-expanding edifice of anti-discrimination law to impose edicts from the top down.

The point of anti-discrimination laws is to prevent discrimination, you moron.
Once the courts accept the narrative, the logic of anti-discrimination locks in, new rights become codified, and the former victims of injustice get to enjoy total victory while decades or centuries of communally based norms, practices, and beliefs get pulverized.
All for the sake of bending the arc of history a few more millimeters toward justice.

Well, yes.  That's exactly the fucking point.  You move a little bit with each step.  Ten years ago, the issue was gay marriage.  The president, as a candidate, was coy and circumspect and failing in moral courage.  When he finally got to where he could proclaim to the public that he indeed supported what everyone knew he already supported, the battle was mostly won.

But Obama's belated embrace of same-sex marriage helped persuade African American church goers in ways that no one else could.

Trangender people are a tiny percentage of Americans.  Let's be generous and say half of one percent.   But that's over one and a half million people.  People who - I'll admit - did not exist in any clear form on my cultural screen a decade ago.

And a decade ago, I was nervous about same-sex marriage.  It had presumably cost John Kerry Ohio in 2004 and therefore the election.  That feels like lazy conventional wisdom, but even if it were true, it's not 2004 anymore.

Vox went out and asked people about trangender people.  The findings are a bit muddled.  Generally speaking, about a third of Americans hold unfavorable views of trans people.  But 22% hold unfavorable views about gays and lesbians.  I would guess the circles of that Venn diagram are pretty much concentric.  Up and down the survey, opinions about trans people are roughly a little worse than opinions about gays and lesbians.

A solid plurality (48%) think we should protect transgender's rights.  Those numbers get closer when the bathroom issue gets interjected, but overall, a plurality still sides with trans people's rights.

What we are likely to see is what would have happened without Obama and Loretta Lynch getting involved.  This will become yet another partisan issue, with Democrats supporting an expansion of rights and Republicans opposing.

But among younger people, there is more tolerance and acceptance of LGBT rights overall.  Time is on the side of transgender people.  As far as 2016 goes, there are precious few people who oppose transgender rights who were EVER going to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton.

I'm sorry for poor Mr. Linker, who seems discomfited that these "lazy liberals" are once again pushing rights for a group that Mr. Linker has decided are too small a group to care about.

In his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King wrote: Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

Obviously, transgenders make up a much smaller portion of the population than African Americans.

But does that mean that rights are apportioned simply by numbers?  I guess I'm not that right(wing) sort of liberal.

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