I’ve written before here that liberalism’s aspirations to an unbiased public space that eschews troublesome particularities by bracketing questions of religion and morality is an aspiration to tyranny. However, it’s never occurred to me until now that the greatest argument against the terrorists of tolerance is the success of their own rhetoric.
In recent years, LGBT activists have won the hearts of millions with sentimental stories about oppressed gays coming out of the closet and into the light. No longer, they say, will gays have to live a lie by hiding their true selves. Now, after thousands of years of lies and deceit, gays can finally be honest in public about who they really are.
The remarkable thing here is that the story the champions of a value-neutral, non-judgmental tolerance are telling the story of liberalism’s demise in order to further the project of liberalism. As I wrote in a previous post, “Citizens Without Selves”:
The unfortuante consequence of liberalism’s commitment to a value-neutral tolerance is the enforcement of a bizarre and inhumane anthropology that forces citizens to leave the irreducible substance of their being, their very self, in a privatized closet never to see the light of day.
If you’d like to see my argument for the above thesis, see the entire post.
My argument here is that gay rights has had such mass appeal not because it furthers the project of the liberal political tradition but because it cuts at the heart of that tradition. Their ideology is of course unrelentingly liberal, championing tolerance while mercilessly pilloring the prejudices of religion. However, the success of the rhetoric liberals rely on to make their argument is the greatest argument against their own theses.
Liberalism demands a political climate where questions of religion, morality and the good are closeted into a private sphere. As I argued in an earlier post, citing the work of Charles Taylor, convictions about morality are an essential component of selfhood and demanding that voters leave behind morality when they enter the public square is demanding that they leave behind their selves.
In such an environment, the “coming out of the closet” narrative is so appealing because it presents the story of the closeted liberal citizen (all of us) finally shaking lose of the oppressing demand to be unbiased and bringing his or her full self – morality, religion and all – out of the closet and into the public square.
The excurciaitng irony is that such a narrative has been cynically deployed in the name of tolerance.
Any type of succesful campaign against the liberal agenda will rely upon unmasking the “coming out of the closet” narrative for what it is, the story of the demise of liberalism cynically repurposed by our liberal overlords to further their own ideology.