When the story of how GayPatriot came to be is written, Bruce Bawer will have a prominent role. Aside from joining Log Cabin Republicans (when it was Republican), reading Bawer’s book A Place At The Table had a critical role in my thinking about what it is to be a gay man, and specifically a conservative gay man in America. So I am honored that Bawer agreed to answer “Six Questions From GayPatriot”….. (Why six? Because five seemed what you’d expect.)
1 – Which do you think is more threatening to gays — Islamists or the American Christian Right?
Islamists. I wrote a book (Stealing Jesus) about the American Christian Right and have no illusions about its malevolence toward gay people. But it pales alongside fundamentalist Islam.
In a recent Daily Telegraph poll, 40% of British Muslims said they wanted sharia law in the UK – and sharia law stipulates the death penalty for acts of homosexuality. Gay-bashings by Muslim youth gangs are rapidly turning once-safe areas of European cities into no-go areas. For many openly gay people living in those cities, harassment on the street by young Muslim men is commonplace.
While writing and then promoting Stealing Jesus, I came into contact with many fundamentalist Christians, who knew I was gay; they argued with me stridently, but never did I see in their eyes what I’ve seen blazing out of the eyes of many young European Muslim men at the sight of a gay person. Contempt is too feeble a word for it. In their eyes, gays are lower than pigs and dogs (and they despise pigs and dogs). We do merit death in their eyes. If they don’t kill us on sight, it’s because they don’t want to deal with the hassle.
2 – Do you think, as Andrew Sullivan does, that the United States truly is moving toward a theocracy?
I agree with Andrew that the separation of church and state is a vital pillar of American freedom and that Bush and other Republicans have often seemed eager to knock it down. Fortunately, even if the US under Bush has taken steps in the direction of theocracy, that destination is still a long way down the road, and most Americans have no interest in going there.
One crucial difference between the US and Europe is this: in the US, the question of whether “Christianism” represents a threat to American secular democracy has long been the subject of brutally frank and passionate public debate; in most of Europe, by contrast, an equally honest, no-holds-barred debate about the threat of European Islam remains unimaginable. And Europe is paying the price for it.
3 – Who are your heroes?
People like Pim Fortuyn and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who care more about telling the truth, doing what’s right, and preserving liberty than about what the political and media establishment thinks of them.
4 – Why does the gay community not speak out more about the threat from Islamic fundamentalism? Are they clouded in their judgement by their hatred of President Bush?
Well, if we’re talking about so-called gay “leaders,” many of them see the world entirely through the prism of multicultural ideology. When looking at fire-breathing Islamists, all they can see is (a) people of color who (b) come from another culture (which of course is “rich” and “fascinating” and “vibrant”) and who are (c) oppressed victims of the imperialist West. All of which, of course, points to the conclusion that gays, as members of a fellow “oppressed group,” should be in solidarity with them against our common oppressors.
For such people, the fact that Islamists despise gays – and, if they gained power in the West, would be quick to teach us all just what oppression really means – just doesn’t compute. Their minds can’t process it. Confront them with such facts, and they’ll respond by demonizing you.
Many leftists, including some gay “leaders,” actually admire Islam for the same reason they once admired Soviet Communism – because it’s the only big-time ideology that won’t knuckle under to American capitalism, which, in their eyes, is the world’s great evil. For such people, Islam’s disdain for gays is an inconsequential detail. (Many gay leftists’ love of Castro, after all, is not dimmed by the knowledge that he throws gays in prison.)
In America, I suspect that the gay population as a whole is silent on these matters mainly because most gays don’t yet fully realize how anti-gay Islam is. In Europe, the situation is more sinister: many European gays have firsthand experience of Islamic homophobia, but have been cowed into silence by the political, media, and intellectual elite: they dare not even make simple factual statements about certain things for fear of being called “racist” or “Islamophobic.”
5 – Any predictions for the 2008 Presidential Election?
6 – Did the American gay community make a tactical error in pushing for gay marriage instead of civil unions?
My own experience in Norway has led me to think that it was a tactical error to insist on the word “marriage” and thereby strengthen our opponents’ hand. If proponents of the Norwegian partnership law had insisted on the word marriage, that law almost certainly wouldn’t have been passed – and I, for one, wouldn’t have been able to live in Norway (or anywhere) legally with the man I love.
Yet while the word “marriage” does not appear in the law, since its passage more and more Norwegians, gay and straight, have gotten into the habit of referring to partnerships as marriages, simply because it’s simpler and more natural to do so. In Norway, even the various official forms on which you have to check off your marital status now tend to use the one word, “married,” to cover both opposite-sex and same-sex couplings. For me, there’s a useful lesson in this: insist on calling the thing by its name and they’ll fight you over it; settle for the thing itself and soon they’ll be calling it by its name, simply because, hey, that’s what it is.
Bruce Bawer has a new book out this year called, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. A must read! GPW adds: Ditto to that. A first-rate book which shows the perils of being too tolerant of intolerance and hate.