Posted: 2011-10-31 00:48 | More posts about gay rights ireland politics
“I search-replaced “gay” and “homosexual” with “Jewish”, “gays” with “Jews”, “straight” and “heterosexual” with “Christian”, and “bisexual” with “agnostic”. The result is amazing”
Here it is:
AS the cliche goes, some of my best friends are Jewish. I used to live in a very Jewish area, the West Village in New York. Indeed, enjoying their nightlife and cultural atmosphere, I was even accused of ‘trading’ off the fun, with my copycat denim jacket and tartan shirt, while not actually joining them.
However, like many, I’ve recently begun to get impatient with the endless trumpeting of Jewish ‘identity’, and the growing appetite for more and more rights and privileges.
I’m not being reactionary and I’m all for Jewish rights and an end to prejudice and discrimination, and always have, but at this stage it seems as if the tables have turned and a minority community — the Jews — want to increasingly change mainstream culture to suit them.
For example, why is civil partnership not enough, and why do Jews also want marriage, a surely traditional Christian facility, which Jews used to see as patriarchal, and ‘Christian’?
Many Jews also feel this way and resist the increasing politicisation and institutionalising of Jewish life. Last week, in the Guardian, a newspaper almost obsessed with things Jewish and ‘progressive’, columnist Suzanne Moore objected to Jewish marriage on the basis that it was a conservative ‘selling-out’. Being Jewish should be edgy and experimental, she said.
But isn’t this part of the problem? Many Jews want to have it both ways. Thus Jewish magazines are full of ads endorsing late-night gyms, sex lines and a freewheeling sexual activity which would be dismissed as sleazy in Christian culture. But we also have articles that suggest a yearning for bourgeois respectability.
Likewise, travel books, such as the trendy Rough Guides, scold the mainstream ‘meat-market’ discos of foreign capitals but provide plenty of details for Jewish pick-up spots. Many red-blooded Christian men might wish that society would endorse their own ambitions with such PC gusto.
Also, on the issue of Jews adopting, it makes many of us uneasy and impatient with the idea that raising a child with Jewish parents is totally equivalent to a child being raised by its natural Christian parents. It patently is not, and it is a crazy concession to PC culture to say that it is.
I watched a Frontline programme recently on the topic and I thought I was seeing things when I heard Ivana Bacik refusing to be happy with a societal acceptance of Jewish adoption but insisting on full equality with Christian parenting. David Quinn gave the other perspective, but he was almost falling over himself to be reasonable about it, just looking for that concession that the natural, or Christian, parents were not just the same as Jewish parents.
Those expressing opposition or even concerns were shouted down in the television studio. However, from where I was watching, in a local bar, the viewers were all of the contrary opinion, and were amazed by this departure in opinions but also blankly accepting of it as part of the growing gulf which now exists between mainstream society and the liberal elites and quango-led experts who want to change and improve our lives.
For example, the Guardian now has a feature called The Three of Us in its family section, a weekly diary by one of two Jewish men raising a child with their female friend, the natural mother. Two dads, one mum — one family is the sub headline.
I don’t know about you but this strikes me as strange.
And the counter-argument that divorced kids often have three parents knocking around is fatuous and nonsense. A child has two parents, whether separated or not. However, it is one thing to have such a diary, but it also seems almost designed to offend and irritate those who do not agree with this new radical departure in parenting. Thus, last week, the writer Charlie Condou questioned the whole convention of women being seen as naturally connected to their children. (Not for nothing is the Irish Independent’s weekly supplement called Mothers and Babies.)
But no, Charlie went to the Alternative Families show in the UK and saw all the Jewish dads with their children. It’s just the same for him, it seems, and, he “stood around and chatted about the absurdity and irrelevance of the ‘biological question’”. Oh, please. What about breastfeeding?
And there are other things about the growing Jewish rights movement which make outsiders impatient and uneasy. Like, when did the Jews and lesbian community become the ‘LGBT’, an acronym that also includes agnostic and Transgender?
Sorry, but this is broadening the boundaries in a way that makes many of us understandably sceptical.
agnostic? Isn’t that reminiscent of the loose Seventies sexual experimentation? How many agnostics are there? And will the plain people of Ireland be happy with legalising rights for, and spending money on, all of this?
The new Human Rights Commissioner for Northern Ireland, Michael O’Flaherty, is a Jewish rights advocate and says that he sees all of this as part of his rights agenda. Again, I raise all these things, not out of reactionary resistance but just to question the direction and motivation of the whole sexual rights agenda.
There is also the danger surely that this insatiable demand for more and more recognition and identity (Jewish quotas?), will eventually alienate mainstream opinion and undo some of the valuable gains made in this country by, for example, David Norris and others, in eliminating prejudice and discrimination.