Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Driving Out The Gays In The Spirit of Multiculturalism

As you may have heard, a couple of weeks ago, the arch-conservative African archbishop Peter Akinola visited the US to install a renegade American priest as a bishop to head up an anti-gay-rights branch of the Episcopal church. In case you were wondering about this unprecedented breach of Anglican tradition, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson is on hand in today's WaPo to explain that it's not about suppressing an unacceptable form of sexuality--it's a joyous celebration of multiculturalism:

For years, a dispute has boiled between the American Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion it belongs to, with many in the global south convinced that Episcopalians are following their liberalism into heresy. This month, Archbishop Peter Akinola, shepherd of 18 million fervent Nigerian Anglicans, reached the end of his patience and installed a missionary bishop to America. The installation ceremony included boisterous hymns and Africans dressed in bright robes dancing before the altar--an Anglican worship style more common in Kampala, Uganda, than in Woodbridge.

The American presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, condemned this poaching of souls on her turf as a violation of the "ancient customs of the church." To which the archbishop replied, in essence: Since when have you American liberals given a fig about the ancient customs of the church?
If one were inclined to respond to Gerson in the same spirit of sarcasm, one might ask: Since when have you American conservatives given a fig about "the global south" and "Africans dressed in bright robes dancing before the altar"? But Gerson is just getting started:

The intense, irrepressible Christianity of the global south is becoming--along with Coca-Cola, radical Islam and Shakira--one of the most potent forms of globalization. . . .

But the largest adjustments are coming on the religious left. For decades it has preached multiculturalism, but now, on further acquaintance, it doesn't seem to like other cultures very much. Episcopal leaders complain of the threat of "foreign prelates," echoing anti-Catholic rhetoric of the 19th century. An activist at one Episcopal meeting urged the African bishops to "go back to the jungle where you came from." Not since Victorians hunted tigers on elephants has the condescension been this raw.
That line about the jungle is pretty shocking, isn't it? It's amazing that even an angry liberal activist would say such a thing to an African bishop. Except that, when you check the facts, you find that there were no bishops anywhere nearby when this ill-tempered and stupid remark was uttered . . . at a gay-rights meeting in New York, five years ago.

Hey, nice job of oppo research, Gerson! With a little luck you can probably milk that one nasty line for at least another five years! By which time you can probably dig up another stupid remark by a single unknown and unimportant person of the left and use that as a stick with which to beat millions of other liberals for another decade or so.

But the idea that mainstream Episcopalians are disturbed over the conservative-driven schism in their church because they deplore Africans or multiculturalism is of course ridiculous. It's about on a par with the notion (still occasionally floated by Bush die-hards) that liberals who deplore the behavior of political hack Alberto Gonzalez are prejudiced against Latinos.

Multiculturalism is about mutual tolerance and acceptance. It means that we don't impose our mores on people from Africa, Asia, Latin America, or anywhere else . . . and vice versa. Whereas spinmeister Gerson would somehow have us believe that multiculturalism means welcoming an African bishop who is promoting a schism in the US church based on the idea that we mainstream Episcopalians are--yes--too tolerant and too accepting!

Wrap your mind around that one if you can.

Now that Gerson is no longer working to twist and mangle facts as a federally-paid propagandist, I guess he's doing it on his own time as a kind of hobby.

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