Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Equal marriage, the Nazis and Lord Carey's irony bypass [UPDATED]

UPDATE: Since I wrote and published this, I have been made aware of the fact that things may not be quite as they have been reported in the press (and I saw several reports before taking to my keyboard). It's seems that Carey didn't quite say what everyone says he did. Of course much of what I argue below is still relevant but some of it is now also wrong. An amended version of the post reflecting the above has been published in PinkNews.

Yesterday during a fringe meeting of the Conservative Party Conference, a 1000 or so Tory militants gathered to hear speakers vituperate against marriage equality, thus showing the world that, ten years on, Teresa May's Nasty Party is alive and well.

Aside from David Burrowes, the backbench MP for Enfield Southgate, and former MP Ann Widdecombe, Lord Carey was at hand to share his views on the subject. And the former Archbishop of Canterbury, the once leader of the established Church of this country, could not resist getting on his favourite hobby-horse: bemoaning how British Christians are being persecuted.

Going much further than that other prelate, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who earlier this year said that David Cameron is acting like a dictator by "forcing" marriage equality on the UK, Lord Carey, when asked about opponents of gay marriage being described as "bigots", said:

“Let’s have a sensible debate about this, not call people names,” he said. “Let’s remember that the Jews in Nazi Germany, what started it all against them was when they started being called names. That was the first stage towards that totalitarian state.”

"And that was the first stage towards that totalitarian state. We have to resist them. We treasure democracy. We treasure our Christian inheritance and we want to debate this in a fair way."
We already knew that Carey had problems with keeping a sense of perspective or even possibly a grasp on reality. Someone as ensconced as he is in the establishment of the country thanks to his faith, complaining that he and his fellow Christians are being discriminated against is quite risible. However his latest tirade shows him as not only hysterical with paranoia but also perniciously mendacious.

It is ironic of course that Carey should start by calling for a "sensible debate", asking for the avoidance of name-calling, only to immediately abandon any pretence of being sensible and, yes, call people names...

Putting aside the fact that the good Lord doesn't seem to be aware of Godwin's Law, of how offensive his comments will be to families of deportation victims and their communities, or of the fact that someone invoking Hitler and the Nazis sounds very much like they have lost the argument they are so badly trying to make, the most cursory examination of Carey's statement shows us how much liberty he is ready to take with history to try and make a very weak point.

In that short statement, Carey conveniently brushes aside the fact that, unlike Christians, homosexuals were at the receiving end of Nazi attacks (A regime on whose activities the hierarchy of Catholic Church turned a blind eye).

He brushes aside the fact that even after the war, homosexuals carried on being victimised; concentration camp survivors being sent directly to jail, since the law criminalising homosexuality in Germany (Paragraph 175) was still extent (and remained so until the 1988).

He brushes aside the fact that to this day LGBT people are not only the brunt of name-calling much worse than what "bigot" can represent for him and his ilk but that all too often the verbal violence becomes physical.

He brushes aside the fact that such violence happens because the perpetrators feel empowered and justified by statements and stances like his.

Lord Carey also told the meeting at Birmingham Town Hall that re-defining marriage would “strike at the very fabric of society” before asking the question: "Why does it feel to us that our cultural homeland and identity is being plundered?"

If we are going to play that hideous little game of who is more like the Nazis it seems to me that Lord Carey is on very dangerous ground indeed. His rhetoric and that generally used by various Christian hierarchies when it comes to gay people is very much in danger of sounding like it would not have been repudiated by the Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion.

Another thing that the former Archbishop fails to understand in his blinkered gesticulations is that he and people like him are quite probably doing our work for us. The more extreme and ridiculous their statements become, and goodness knows that they are little else these days, the more people are likely to realise where the reasonable and reasoned arguments are.

We can only hope for our sakes and for that of Carey's mental health that the government presses on with its plans. The sooner marriage equality happens, the sooner the mad barking will stop and the sooner everyone will realise that things are carrying on pretty much unchanged for most, except for a society more welcoming for all and that much further from that totalitarian state Carey fears so much.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I feel it's pointless trying to counter the zealots religious and political from their anti-marriage equality outpourings because by their very words and actions they are showing themselves up to be out of touch, outdated and obsolete relics of a time and mentality long since gone.


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