McCarthy implies LGBQT people’s humanity is just “politics”

GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, like any top-ranking political leader, makes lots of TV appearances.

McCarthy was a guest on CNBC‘s “Squawk Box,” hosted by Becky Quick, on Thursday, April 27, 2023. They talked about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s feud with Disney, set off by the company’s public criticism of DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which treats LGBQT people as non-persons in Florida’s K-12 public schools.

Kinda like how the Nazis treated Jews as non-persons, before they murdered them. Is that a fair comparison? Let’s talk about that. It’s true that LGBQT people aren’t being systematically slaughtered in the U.S., but DeSantis and numerous other Republican politicians are promoting policies that discriminate against them, and their political rhetoric gives encouragement to individuals prone to committing hate crimes against LGBQT people, including crimes of violence.

These politicians have bought into the false ideology that LGBQT is behavior, not biology. Nobody chooses to be LGBQT, anymore than you or I choose to be male or female; they’re born that way. Who in their right mind wants to be an LGBQT person, given how they’re treated?

To be clear, McCarthy and DeSantis aren’t Nazis. But they’re not idiots, either. What they lack is not brains, awareness, or understanding; but compassion and decency toward a specific group of their fellow human beings. They’re exploiting that group’s vulnerability to hate and bigotry for political gain. They pander to the ignorance and prejudices of people less educated and intelligent than they are to get votes and political power. We should not excuse them for stooping to that.

The point I want to make here, and my reason for posting this, is not that McCarthy told Quick that DeSantis should sit down with Disney and negotiate their differences (which is what he said on Quick’s show). Those differences involve the municipal governance of Disney’s properties in Florida.

Rather, it’s this: “McCarthy added that large employers in the state should ‘abide by the rules’ and doesn’t think they should get into politics.” (See story here).

This is laughable, because McCarthy and DeSantis like other politicians take political donations from corporations, Disney is a major political donor, and if spending money on political lobbying and giving money to political campaigns isn’t getting into politics — well, I’d say it is. But that’s not my point.

What McCarthy has done is assert that whether LGBQT people are entitled to basic human rights is a matter of “politics.” That’s saying politicians like McCarthy and DeSantis (and Hitler) get to decide which people are part of the human family, and who isn’t.

McCarthy, DeSantis, and other Republicans promoting anti-LGBQT legislation haven’t set up an Auschwitz for LGBQT people, nor sent death squads into our communities (although some individuals have appointed themselves to that role, e.g. Matthew Shepherd’s killers, details here, and the Pulse Nightclub shooter, details here).

The mass extermination of the Jews was a political act, driven by a political ideology, and perpetrated by a political leader. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, the laws against drag shows, and banning of books on LGBQT topics, are political acts driven by a political ideology and perpetrated by a political party and its politicians. It’s qualitatively the same, and only a question of how far they’ll take it.

When McCarthy says a company like Disney, which has LGBQT employees and customers, should avert its gaze from this kind of politics, I don’t see how that’s qualitatively different from someone saying businesses in the 1930s should’ve kept quiet about what the Nazis were doing to the Jews.

Once again, is that a fair comparison? I say yes, because McCarthy isn’t saying Disney has no duty to defend LGBQT rights; he went farther. He said Disney shouldn’t defend LGBQT people; he said they should keep their mouths shut. It’s the same.

To some readers, that may sound too harsh, and I’m aware of that. I, myself, am hesitant to go there. The Nazis were uniquely evil, and the Holocaust was a unique crime. Nothing else in modern history compares. And I don’t think McCarthy is an evil person, or intended his remarks to be read in this fashion. He’s just a klutz, not careful with his ideas and words.

But what he said does come out this way, and I’ve decided to go there, so this way of thinking doesn’t become accepted lest it someday lead our society to an evil place. It’s got to be rejected. How we treat others is affected by politics, but it’s much more than politics, and we mustn’t let it become a political question.

I think the people at Disney, like me, understand the stakes. I don’t think McCarthy does. Human nature is the same everywhere, and it could happen here, if we’re not careful. All I’m saying is he needs to be careful. He, DeSantis, and other Republican leaders potentially could unleash something they didn’t intend and won’t be able to control. We saw a glimmer of that with the January 6 mob, and we see glimpses of it when angry mobs of anti-LGBQT bigots besiege school board meetings.

Disney isn’t only in the business of making profits for its shareholders. (Disclosure: I own a small amount of Disney stock.) It’s business is providing entertainment to the public, from whence comes its the revenues that pay employees’ wages and earn profits for investors. Its employees, customers, and shareholders include LGBQT people, and also people like me who aren’t LGBQT but believe they have human rights worth defending, too.

So even if you agree with McCarthy’s implied premise that businesses should stick to business, what he misses is that a business looking after its employees and customers is just good business, and a necessary part of succeeding in business. McCarthy wants Disney to turn a blind eye to human values and its business interests.

But this is larger than Disney’s business interests. It’s about humanity, and all of us having rights, and resisting evil. Discriminating against LGBQT people is evil; yes, not as evil as what happened to the Jews, but wrong nonetheless. And McCarthy and DeSantis are making themselves party to that wrong. The entire Republican Party, or most of it, is. That’s another reason not to vote for them.

Return to The-Ave.US Home Page

Comments are closed.