The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Gays, the new Jews?

 Gays, the new Jews?
Gays, the new Jews?

Gays, the new Jews?

You’ve heard them. Pop-culture maxims like “brown is the new black,” “30 is the new 20,” “gays are the new Jews.”

That last one was actually the title of a column written by Danny Miller, book editor and contributing writer for Salon magazine and the Los Angeles Times.

While Miller’s analogy may seem extreme, it deserves consideration. Miller, who is straight and Jewish, asks: “Is it my imagination or is our ability to accept people who are different from ourselves plummeting to dangerous levels?”

Good question, especially in light of recent events on campus. But can an argument be constructed to compare homophobia to anti-Semitism? Historically, yes.

Beginning in 1933, persecution against Jews became the central strategy of the Nazi party. Over the course of the next six years, a series of laws were passed that laid the groundwork for the Holocaust, laws, for example, that banned marriages between Jews and non-Jews, stripped Jews of citizenship, prohibited Jews from serving in the army, restricted professions Jews could practice, banned Jewish children from attending public schools, among others.

On November 9, 1938, German Jews were the victim of a nightlong pogrom across Germany, resulting in the destruction of over 7000 Jewish businesses and more than 1500 synagogues, what would later become known as Kristallnacht (or Pogromnacht).

The word “Jude” (Jew) was written on the outside of vandalized buildings. The message was that Jews were no longer welcome in Germany. Three days following the pogrom, members of the Nazi leadership met to determine the course of action that would eventually lead to the Final Solution.

The slow yet systematic privation of rights not only resulted in the demonization of Jews, it also allowed Nazi leaders to desensitize Germans to what was happening. While certainly incomparable in scope, laws passed that targeted homosexuals were no less significant.

In 1935, the Nazis expanded an almost forgotten law dating from 1871, known as Paragraph 175, that criminalized homosexuality to include any “lewd act” between persons of the same sex. Under the new law men could be arrested on mere suspicion of being gay. Convictions increased from 10 to 8000 during the following year alone. Those convicted under the law were imprisoned.

The pink triangle, which today is a universal symbol for gay rights, has its origin in the pink triangles that gays were forced to wear on their clothing. While figures are uncertain, at least one study suggests that as many as 500,000 gays and lesbians died in the Holocaust.

Ironically, following the liberation of concentration camps by allied forces, gay prisoners were required to serve out the remainder of their sentences in German prisons.

In the U.S., laws that criminalized homosexuality were not struck down until 2003. Today, there is no shortage of politicians who refer to the landmark Supreme Court decision as an example of radical left-wing judges.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia, the court’s most conservative member wrote, “[T]he Court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.”

In 2004, pro-family activist and president of the Virginia-based Family Policy Network, Joe Glover, suggested that religious voters should demand that Republican politicians they helped elect fire gays who may be working for them.

As it stands, anyone can be fired for being gay, except in a handful of cities that have included sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws.

Another such organization, Focus on the Family, headed by child psychologist Dr. James Dobson, uses its website to warn his followers about the evils of homosexuality, which he, 33 years after the American Psychiatric Association removed it from their list of mental disorders, continues to label as a disorder.

Agenda. Disorder. Lifestyle. Rhetoric used to discriminate — and demonize.

Again, Miller: “It was bad enough to see the ugly rhetoric at play in the 2004 presidential campaign surrounding gay marriage…people were terrified that legally acknowledging the unions between two people of the same sex would spell the end of our civilization as we know it and lead to…human beings and kangaroos joining in holy matrimony.”

While Miller’s argument may appear absurd, it is exactly the kind of warped logic many on the Right have used. Witness Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s now infamous comment, “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.”

Santorum’s ad-absurdum argument is typical of arguments made by politicians and religious figures within the last five to six years, after the Republican Party decided to make gay marriage a wedge issue to draw social conservative to the polls and, in the process, demonize gays.

No less absurd were recent comments made by Debra Young Maggart, a Tennessee State Representative, in defense of a bill to outlaw gay adoptions in her state: “We also have seen evidence that homosexual couples prey on young males and have in some instances adopted them in order to have unfretted [sic] access to subject them to a life of molestation and sexual abuse.”

To say that Maggart’s comments are beyond contempt would be an understatement. Unfortunately, statements such as hers are not uncommon. Many times, politicians like Maggart and religious figures like Dobson resort to quoting false statistics and junk science, not unlike the Nazis, as a means of legitimizing their bigotry.

While Maggart simply wants to prohibit gays from adopting, lawmakers in Oklahoma want to go one step further and void existing legal adoptions by gay parents.

“Man is the only animal that trips over the same rock twice,” goes the Spanish proverb. Perhaps that’s what Spanish-born philosopher George Santayana had in mind when he said, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”


George Henson is a Spanish lecturer. He can be reached at [email protected].

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