While working on a piece expanding on this post for Pajamas, I chanced upon Charles Kaiser’s response to a raft of e-mails faulting him for failing to talk to a single gay Republican in his Out magazine article, “Washington’s Gay War.”
Introducing the response, Out editor Aaron Hicklin notes that the article “generated far more than the average grab bag of angry letters from readers,” citing Log Cabin’s call to action specifically. This correspondence, Hicklin believes, “seemed to warrant a response from the author.”
Major kudos to Log Cabin for getting at least one gay media outlet to take notice of the concerns of the oft-misrepresented gay Republicans. It’s unfortunate though that Kaiser’s response only further demonstrates his ignorance of gay Republicans.
Despite our contention that he didn’t talk to any gay Republicans, Kaiser claims he did. He just didn’t see fit to quote them.
He further defends himself by saying that the article was “about gay political wars in Washington” and not gay Republicans. Well, shouldn’t a journalist covering a war strive to cover both sides? Kaiser only covers the Republican side from the perspective of Democrats.
He also contends that none of his correspondents challenged â€œthe factsâ€ in his piece.
Not privy to the correspondence, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that statement. In the article itself, Kaiser lets others do most of the talking. And maybe no one challenged the various quotations in the article. But, they make claims which they fail to prove, notably that of Washington Post reporter Vargas, “If you come out on the Hill and you’re a Republican, you lose power.â€
His article doesn’t reference a single Republican who lost power when he came out.
The issue wasn’t so much the accuracy of the quotations, but whom Kaiser chose to quote. And he himself acknowledged that he didn’t quote the gay Republicans with whom he talked.
I could go on, wondering how he comes to the conclusion that the current Republican Administration creates a climate which produces a “lack of self-esteem” and kind of “self-loathing,” but to address that would be to enter the world of liberal jargon. Simply put, that’s a ludicrous claim which he can only back up by resorting to the latest theories taught on university campuses.
I do want to address one point which gets to the heart of Kaiser’s misunderstanding of Republican ideas. He seems quite bothered that all the Republican presidential candidates opposed the federal Employment non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and concludes by finding it “baffling” that presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain emplys “openly gay people in senior positions in his Senate office” while opposing that legislation.
Perhaps, had he taken a moment to understand conservative ideas, he might realize that someone might find it wrong to discriminate against gay people, yet find it’s not the federal government’s role to regulate such matters. One can treat gay people with dignity and oppose ENDA.
He might not find that so baffling if he understood the basic political philosophy undergirding American conservatism for the past forty years. If you’re covering gay political wars in DC, it kind of helps to have that understanding.
If Charles Kaiser were genuinely interested in covering those wars, he would try to understand why gay people espouse conservative ideas. While Kaiser claims to have talked to gay Republicans, he doesn’t reference such conversations in his first piece while the bafflement he expresses in his second shows an unfamiliarity with their ideas.
And this is the guy Out magazine tapped for an article on gay politics in our nation’s capital.