What I paid the most attention to this week was the continuing backlash of social conservatives against marriage equality. One moment that stood out for me was when Ted Cruz was asked whether the “religious freedom” to resist same-sex marriage (which he was promoting) also could be used to resist interracial marriage. Outrageously, he replied that there is “no religious backing” for opposition to interracial marriage.
That sent me to the history books, including a fascinating recent one on how interracial marriage became legal, called Almighty God Created the Races by Fay Botham. The parallels in the arguments are quite striking, as Botham herself recognizes in the final chapter.
So why, I wondered, are the Ted Cruzs so resistant to claiming their social-conservative heritage? And why was Justice Alito so concerned that his fellow marriage-equality opponents might be called “bigots”? And I came to understand the reason: Our image of the bigots of the past is that the were all haters, like the mobs being held back by federal troops in Little Rock while they yelled obscenities at the little black children going to school. No wonder Ted Cruz and Sam Alito are offended to be lumped together with them.
But when you look back more thoroughly, you find that the vast majority of segregationists and male chauvinists and even slavery defenders were just like the marriage-equality opponents of today: not conscious of hating anyone, but sincerely believing — usually for reasons rooted in their religion — that certain people shouldn’t be treated fairly, and that everyone will be better off if they remain unequal. In other words, most of the bigots of the past were probably nice folks, if you met them under the right circumstances — a lot like Ted Cruz and Sam Alito.
The result of that history project will be this week’s featured post “You Don’t Have to Hate Anybody to be a Bigot”. It should be out around 9 or 10, EDT.
The weekly summary covers yesterday’s referendum in Greece, which launches me into a reflection on how the we’re-turning-into-Greece line the Tea Party was pushing a few years ago had the economics exactly backwards. There are still more Republican presidential candidates, and pundits are finding new reasons to ignore the huge crowds Bernie Sanders is drawing. Confederate flag defenders came out in force, but I don’t think they did their cause much good. I quote a first-person response to Georgia’s open-carry law, and a couple of great Bill Maher riffs. I’m still looking for a closing. So let’s predict that to appear around noon.