You Do Belong Here

We’re quite prone, in these days of political hysteria and fragility, to blow up discrete incidents – sensationally circulated on social media – into cosmic proportions. But every now and then something does turn up in the worldwide churn of pixels that shows a boundary has been crossed. That happened, I believe, last week in Canada, when a public school teacher told a Muslim student who was protesting Pride Month events by skipping class that if he didn’t respect LGBTQs by participating, “you don’t belong here.”

I’ve been waiting for this to happen for over two decades. The teacher has been described in the press as “unhinged” and an exception. But we know that’s not true. In Canada, the United States, several European countries, and beyond, “gender ideology,” as Pope Francis has rightly called it, is a new form of “cultural colonization.” It’s everywhere – and aggressive. (Query: then why doesn’t he confront that relentless proselytizing instead of indulging its representatives?)

It’s not only faithful Muslims who are coming to be regarded as outside the house of democracy. It’s Catholics, evangelicals, conservative and orthodox Jews, and ordinary parents who want their children – especially their young children – to be left alone on controversial matters in schools and other public venues. And not to be kept in the dark – or outright lied to – by government employees.

That was once the basic rule. Religious groups don’t get to proselytize in schools. They don’t have “days” and “months” and special events pushing their beliefs. American embassies abroad do not fly Vatican or Muslim or Israeli flags. Presidents do not tell them, as Biden went out of his way to say over the weekend, “you belong.”

Anyone who has not been hypnotized by our cultural masters can see that this is pure pansexual proselytizing masquerading as tolerance and neutrality.

But there’s more to the LGBTQ vs. Muslim story than appears at the surface.

I’ve been waiting for this moment when the “intersectionality” of allegedly oppressed groups shows its basic incoherence. Traditional religious groups, of course, hold beliefs that clash with LGBTQ demands. But we might have managed those differences had we stuck to live-and-let-live. Instead, the LGBTQ juggernaut has tried to use all the instruments of the state and culture to force us into submission.

It hasn’t worked on abortion and won’t on LGBTQs, especially now that parents are mobilized. Bud Light (down $27 billion) and Target (negative $9 billion) just show the beginning of what can happen when you disrespect Hilary Clinton’s “deplorables” – almost half the population. And there’s even been a noticeable shift in moderately liberal circles that now recognize how extreme LGBTQ has become.

She’s not trans. [National Park Service photo]

And there’s a further question of whether LGBTQ is a coherent thing, “on the right side of history.” Because “intersectional” groups – blacks, feminists, women in general, even “gays,” and (once upon a time) Muslims – aren’t exactly in agreement.

African American religious groups – notably the Nation of Islam – pushed back against homosexuality in various ways, despite claims of mutual oppression, mostly in academic journals.

More recently, a significant split opened with some feminists, the phenomenon known as TERF, Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists. (I know, quantum mechanics is easier to keep up with than the sexual revolution’s combinations and permutations.) J.K. Rowling is only the most prominent figure who’s been attacked for such “bigotry,” which also seems – when needed – to be a medical condition (transphobia). TERFs believe adults can be trans if they like, but the public project is canceling women.

Speaking of ordinary women, no small number see that the trans social contagion is mutilating their daughters, gelding their sons, upsetting decades of gains in fields like women’s sports. Meanwhile, the media and academy are shamefully trying to convince them, and us, that the “science” supports “gender-affirming care” (It doesn’t, the U.K. has already banned “puberty blockers”). And that science – contrary to the evidence of women’s own eyes – has disproved that “trans women” (i.e., biological males) have an advantage over female athletes.

Some of the older homosexual activists, mostly male, didn’t like the inclusion of “trans” in the coalition either. It seemed foreign to the more staid, early activists, as did the “queering” of everything under the sun. They merely wanted to do what they wanted to do, not to recreate – distort – the whole world. Even today there are gay conservatives who, same-sex attraction aside, look upon drag-queen story hours in public libraries and schools etc., as decadent, a form of child grooming, and a danger to society.

Muslims, like Catholics and Jews before them, have had to struggle to find a place in the American democratic landscape. It remains to be seen how that will work out in practice. Are toleration and openness infinitely elastic, or do democratic institutions depend on principles and social habits derived from Judeo-Christian notions of liberty ordered to God, nature, and neighbor?

The rule in these matters – though often ignored in practice – was best expressed by George Washington, in a letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport Rhode Island. The group had appealed to what they knew to be his sympathetic toleration. Washington responded:

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

There are three things expressed in that letter: liberty for all citizens, responsibility to the law, and respect for the rights of others. The LGBTQ activists want the first. Their blind missionary zeal makes it hard to believe they will accept that, shockingly, we belong here too. It’s up to all of us now to see that, willing or not, they do.


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Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent books are Columbus and the Crisis of the West and A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century.