Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Cracked Mirror of History
In the early 18th century world of the Dutch, on one hand the world was an ever opening chest of wealth. They went from being an oppressed nation, a land where a battle for Eurpean dominace was being fought between the French, Spanish and English to an independant Republic. A Representative goverment unlike none which Europe had seen before. For a century, they became the prime economic movers of Europe.
This prosperity had a price, the spick and span, severly calvinist protestant society opened itself up to the influences of other cultures. The Dutch became wealthy , in fact, to borrow the phrase of historian Simon Schama, they suffered from an “Embarrassment of Riches.”
The society suffered from an identity crisiss which manifested itself in a number of ways.The calm period of prosperity was beset by moral introspection in which vice was seen as the product of foreign influences.
There had alweays been a dichotomy between the orderly households of the Dutch Burghers and the acceptance of prostitution. Prostitution was illegal, but the tacit understanding was that there were acceptable levels of vice. The need for this outlet was seen as a neccessary outlet to preserve the purity and sanctity of proper Dutch women.
At the same time, of course, as in any normal urban environment, there was a thriving homosexual culture. This was totally underground and like today, it was a part of the thread of humanity. But also as today, the otherness of the homosexual world made it a target for religious warriors who amplified the behavior into a threat to the Dutch State.
In the 1730’s this became a witch hunt and the public laws against homosexuality carried the death penalty. A death penalty beyond simple death, the accused was strangled, beheaded, dismembered and thrown in the river with a 200 pound weight. The order of this sentence was varied according to the social status of the the accused.
There were inquisitions and many lurid pamphl;ets published that “exposed” an entire alternate homosexual society, which in the light of historical analysis, never existed.
The propaganda, though, was used as a patriotic religious tool to root out and kill hundreds of homosexuals and people caught up in the web of betrayal by thoise trying to “buy” their freedomn by dooming others.
The imflamatory language was preached from the pulpits and the fictions were promulgated in pamphlets that became popular mass entertainment which imflamed prejudice. The “vice” was calimed to be imported by the French, and they claimed it had never, ever existed in Dutch society before.
Here we are in the early 21st century and we are seeing the same phenomena in America.
The exposure and eradication of homosexuals is being made into a patriotic/religious crusade in much the same way it was in 1730. Homosexuality is being made into a lurid threat which is somehow organized to try to destroy our culture and life as we know it. Now, of course, we do not advocate the death and disamemberment policy to deal with them., but as a class, they are actively denied rights and benefits available to the rest of Americans under the the law. Hate crimes against homosexuals are routinely dismissed and covered up and under reported.
In an earlier post, I wrote of Pastor Rick Warren and his militant church which has mixed the emotions of patriotism and religion together in a potentially dangerous molotov cocktail, wrtecklessly citing the example of Adolf Hitler and Nazism as models for the kind of fanatic belief that his church needs from its followers to “conquer the world for Jesus”.
One of the rallying points of the activism of his church has been militantly dealing with homosexuality. This week House Democrat, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee re-introduced The Hate Crimes bill with homosexuals added as a protected group to existing hate-crime legislation.
The bill will make it a federal crime for pastors to use the Bible to speak out against homosexuality if in response to that teaching someone commits an act of violence against a homosexual. This will effectively stifle the ability of pastors to preach the Word of God without fear of prosecution. Vision America has a plan to stop this Bill.
Inspiring someone to commit murder either is or isn't a crime already. The hate crimes bill has nothing to do with the spoken word - it has to deal with people dragging you behind their truck for a mile, or tying to you to a fence and pistol-whipping you in the head. I shouldn't be surprised, but still I am. Whining about your fear that you'll lose the right to incite murder. Only in America.
Needless to say, the Hate Crimes bill doesn't deal with speech. And in fact, America has had a hate crimes law for decades now, and no one has gone to jail for dissing blacks or whites, or people of faith, all of whom are already protected under the existing hate crimes laws. But somehow adding gays to a law that is already on the books, will magically make the law outlaw speech. Right. Evangelical bigots have existed forever and in 1730 and today, they have a serious aversion to the truth, when it becomes a stumbling block to their techniques of mixing patriotism with religion for the sake of control and power.
The above illustration is from 1731 and isa called “Justice Triumphant” and is allegorical engraving depicting the rooting out and destruction of homosexual networks in Dutch Society.