I'm often tempted to assume that the people against civil unions and gay marriage are acting out of prejudice, and I'm sure it's true for a lot of them, but not all. With the immigration issue, I'd like to believe that most who oppose any sort of amnesty are acting out of a strongly-held belief in law and order or a legitimate fear that our economy can't absorb so many immigrants.
My instincts are to give people the benefit of the doubt. As I've mentioned before, for example, I've always assumed that Bush is neither racist nor particularly homophobic. It's hard to imagine in these modern times that people -- particularly educated ones -- could still hold such hateful views.
But we must remember that it's not as implausible as you might think.
Here's Nixon on gays:
I don't mind the homosexuality, I understand it . . . Nevertheless, goddamn, I don't think you glorify it on public television, homosexuality, even more than you glorify whores. We all know we have weaknesses. But, goddamn it, what do you think that does to kids? You know what happened to the Greeks! Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo. We all know that so was Socrates.
You know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. Neither in a public way. You know what happened to the popes? They (had sex with) the nuns, that's been goin' on for years, centuries. But the Catholic Church went to hell, three or four centuries ago. It was homosexual, and it had to be cleaned out. That's what's happened to Britain, it happened earlier to France.
Let's look at the strong societies. The Russians. Goddamn, they root 'em out. They don't let 'em around at all. I don't know what they do with them. Look at this country. You think the Russians allow dope? Homosexuality, dope, immorality are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the communists and left-wingers are clinging to one another. They're trying to destroy us. I know Moynihan will disagree with this, (Atty. Gen. John) Mitchell will, and Garment will. But, goddamn, we have to stand up to this.
But it's not just the ratty part of town. The upper class in San Francisco is that way. The Bohemian Grove (an elite, secrecy-filled gathering outside San Francisco), which I attend from time to time. It is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. I can't shake hands with anybody from San Francisco.
This is Richard Nixon, as president, not that long ago, in 1971, talking about "Negroes" and Mexicans:
And let's not forget his anti-semitic rantings:
NIXON: "What about the rich Jews? The IRS is full of Jews, Bob."
HALDEMAN: "What we ought to do is get a zealot who dislikes those people."
NIXON:"Go after them like a son of a bitch."
Washington "is full of Jews," the president asserted. "Most Jews are disloyal." He made exceptions for some of his top aides, such as national security adviser Henry Kissinger, his White House counsel, Leonard Garment, and one of his speechwriters, William Safire, and then added:
"But, Bob, generally speaking, you can't trust the bastards. They turn on you. Am I wrong or right?"
Haldeman agreed wholeheartedly. "Their whole orientation is against you. In this administration, anyway. And they are smart. They have the ability to do what they want to do--which is to hurt us."
What goes on in today's closed-door meetings? What do current "conservatives" say when nobody's listening? It's impossible to know what goes on in people's minds (unless they're dumb enough to speak their darkest thoughts on tape.) But I think that any African-Americans, Jews, Latinos, homosexuals, or White Christians who aren't racist or homophobic, do a dangerous thing in trusting that social conservatives' motives are pure. Today's Federal Marriage Amendment is yesterday's Anti-Miscegenation Amendment. Today's homophobia is yesterday's racism. And much of the anti-immigrant movement is today's racism.