One month ago Amendment 1 passed, making North Carolina the last Southern state to constitutionally ban gay marriage.

Where is the payoff from bashing gay rights? Perhaps history has a clue. The South's last unanimous campaign against civil rights targeted the black race. Even though most Southern whites had nothing to gain economically, they fought and died to protect slavery. Why?
Perhaps no one gave a better answer than Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney in the Dred Scott decision. His words resonated deeply in the South: "[people of the black race are] 
beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit 
to associate with the white race, 
either in social or 
political relations, and 
so far unfit
that they had no rights 
which the white man 
was bound to respect." (For more details, see Part 1 of Deep Economics)

Taney's words succinctly captured Southern hatred of blacks. Southern gentry used it to their advantage: you poor white boys better fight and fight well, otherwise the North will force you to live cheek-to-cheek with those blacks. It was a powerful battle cry. Confederates were three times more effective than Yankees at killing the enemy. Fighting against feared personal degradation was far more motivating than fighting for somebody else's freedom.

And now Southern hatred rises again, but this time against gays. Posters like "God Hates Fags" present the essence of the message sent by Christian fundamentalists across the South. And it worked: 61% of voters supported Amendment 1 in North Carolina, which in politics is a tremendous margin of success. Liberals, fighting for somebody else's rights, were far less effective and took a terrible beating at the polls.

Conservative wealth needs voter support to maintain dominion. It wins that support by aligning with hate campaigns. War is a longstanding favorite. Hate is rallied to rationalize war, which in turn feeds the mammoth arms industry.

Another hate campaign is being tested today in Wisconsin. The campaign is presented by conservative wealth as a cure for our financial woes. But it's just another hate campaign, this time against public workers and their right to a decent wage, pension, and to be unionized. Conservative wealth hopes to win voter support, and thereby protect its dominion.

Hate campaigns restrict our vision, especially when polished by massive infusions of money. Well-financed hate campaigns make it hard to see what is really going on. They delude us into thinking hate brings deliverance. But God will not smile on Southern churches for bashing gay rights. Wisconsin's economy will not heal by cutting public spending and restricting unions. Yet hate campaigns supported by egregious wealth consistently make silk purses out of sow’s ears.
Marci Abels
7/10/2012 03:49:52 am

Hate campaigns like these are generated to deflect examination of other fundamental issues. If we spend our energies fighting Gay rights, we have less time and emotion to look at issues that might equitably address taxation and benefits to the needy. We can tout those who abuse the system and call for the closing of benefits programs much more easily that working to make the programs abuse proof, or targeting the abusers. Work up a strong anger in people to drown out any voice of reason that might say, "Why are we angry here, why do we hate, what can we do to make things right?" Hatred never serves the common good, it only serves those who need hate to succeed.

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7/10/2012 03:54:30 am

Thank you, Marci, for your thoughtful reply. I so agree with you!

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