Cruz Is No Libertarian

David Boaz writes Cruz Makes Play for Libertarian Voters. Is Anybody Game? Here’s a reason they shouldn’t be:

Get beyond economics and some constitutional issues, and Cruz’s record is far less libertarian. … Cruz has been embracing a truly startling array of antigay extremists. … Those are not alliances likely to appeal to libertarians…or anyone who wants a president with a modicum of judgment.

Let Freedom Bloom

Via Ilya Shapiro at the libertarian Cato Institute, Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom:

While Cato believes that same-sex couples ought to be able to get marriage licenses (if the state is involved in marriage in the first place), a commitment to equality under the law can’t justify the restriction of private parties’ constitutionally protected rights like freedom of speech or association.

Arlene’s Flowers, a flower shop in Richland, Washington, declined to provide the floral arrangements for the same-sex wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. Mr. Ingersoll was a long-time customer of Arlene’s Flowers and the shop’s owner Barronelle Stutzman considered him a friend. But when he asked her to use her artistic abilities to beautify his ceremony, Mrs. Stutzman felt that her Christian convictions compelled her to decline. She gently explained why she could not do what he asked, and Mr. Ingersoll seemed to understand.

Later, however, he and his now-husband, and ultimately the state of Washington, sued Mrs. Stutzman for violating the state’s laws prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations. The trial court ruled against Arlene’s Flowers and the case is now on appeal.

Cato has filed an amicus brief supporting Arlene’s Flowers and Mrs. Stutzman, urging Washington’s highest court to reverse the trial court’s decision. Although floristry may not initially appear to be speech to some, it’s a form of artistic expression that’s constitutionally protected. ….

[Supreme Court] justices have said repeatedly that what the First Amendment protects is a “freedom of the individual mind,” which the government violates whenever it tells a person what she must or must not say. Forcing a florist to create a unique piece of art violates that freedom of mind. Moreover, unlike true cases of public accommodation, there are abundant opportunities to choose other florists in the same area.

It remains stunning that progressive LGBT activists have decided using the power of the state to force religiously conservative small business owners to provide expressive services to same-sex weddings is where the front line of the LGBT movement should be. They’re mean-spirited, intolerant and smug authoritarians, and proud to be so.

Iowa Crazy

One of the absurdities of U.S. presidential elections is that untypical Iowa has such an outsized impact on creating early and vital candidate momentum as the first delegate-selecting state, for which we can blame Jimmy Carter. Iowa caucus-going Democrats skew left, and caucus-attending Republicans are dominated by deeply socially conservative evangelicals. That’s why the Iowa GOP gave it’s blessing to caucus winners Rick Santorum last time (edging out Mitt Romney), and before that to Mike Huckabee. Neither went on to win the nomination, of course.

At a final Iowa rally for Ted Cruz, Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” spoke vehemently against same sex marriage and said, “Let’s rid the earth of these people.” Cruz himself called forth “Father God please….Awaken the Body of Christ that we may pull back from the abyss,” which was either scary crazy fundamentalist pandering or worse, or a biblical reference misunderstood by the secular elite (or, as conservative pundit Rod Dreher tweeted, “He’d bite a hobbit’s finger off to win.”). Further on that point, columnist Kathleen Parker said, “I think that the middle of the road people, moderates, more liberal Republicans would find that kind of a little much, and I know that — I don’t see independents falling in line behind Ted Cruz.”

Some reasonable people are glad Cruz made Donald Trump look like a loser, undercutting his veneer of invincibility. But we’ll see how this plays out.

And then there was this apparently absurdist claim about Marco Rubio being secretly gay, which seems like just another last-minute dirty campaign trick, but is amusing.

Onward to New Hampshire.

Freedom Defended

Via Towelroad:

Leading UK gay activist Peter Tatchell has come out in support of a Belfast baker who was found guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”.

Spot on. A commitment to liberty means liberty for all, no matter how furious it makes progressive authoritarians.

Young Authoritarians on the March

Well, one more post on the Creating Change travesty, because I think it encapsulates a seminal development on the left—including among younger LBTQ progressives—that older left-liberals haven’t wanted to face. It’s the fact that on college campuses progressivism now means shutting down or otherwise eliminating the expression of viewpoints that are not deemed sufficiently and correctly progressive. It’s a new streak of authoritarianism that reflects back to the pro-Soviet leftism of the ‘30s and ‘40s.

This is an ideology grounded in anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism, so it should really be no surprise to scratch the surface and find just underneath our old acquaintance, anti-Semitism, dolled up superficially as anti-Zionism.

The leaders of the National LGBTQ Task Force say they want all progressives to be able to come to their conferences as their true selves, but what happens when their true self is an authoritarian anti-Semite? At some point, “no enemies on the left” is just not viable, unless you’re willing to surrender to and henceforth take orders from the mob, as leftwing university administrators now appear willing to do.

Some are trying to defend the Task Force by claiming that the Israeli speakers at the Jerusalem Open House reception were the ones who decided to end the event because they didn’t want to deal with condemnation by the protesters. But that’s entirely disingenuous, as made clear by Washington Blade editor Keven Naff in his commentary Creating Shame: Anti-Israel protest misguided, offensive. He notes:

The organizers of Creating Change had to know something like this was brewing. Yet they had no control over the protest, which easily could have devolved into a dangerous situation. “The Task Force did very little to ensure that the program …could go on as planned, safely and without disruption,” [American University Law professor Tony] Varona reported. “Instead, the protestors were allowed to bully the speakers off the stage, and then to bully and harass the attendees out of the room.” When your invited speakers are forced to flee out a back door, you have failed in your responsibility to ensure the safety of attendees. Task Force staff must do a better job of providing security and of maintaining control over their own events. Ceding the stage to protesters sets an irresponsible precedent.

Naff concludes:

It’s refreshing to meet with younger LGBT advocates and Creating Change provides a safe space for them to share ideas and tactics. But “safe spaces” should refer to protecting the physical safety of attendees. They should not be shielded from opinions and ideas they find offensive. … Censoring speech and shouting down those we disagree with should not be on our agenda. Creating Change organizers must behave like the parent in the room and establish some basic rules of engagement and enforce them. And there’s clearly much work to be done in educating younger advocates on the history of Israel, the Holocaust and the plight of LGBT people in the Middle East.

Those who define themselves as on the left must either stand up to the new authoritarians or eventually surrender to them.

The “Pinkwashing” Lie

Mark Joseph Stern writes at Slate that The LGBTQ Left Has an Anti-Semitism Problem:

The concept of pinkwashing is extraordinarily insulting. It presumes that the Israeli government has no interest in promoting LGBTQ rights except to help mask its oppression of other groups. This presumption is totally unique to Israel. Nobody thought that France was attempting to distract from its terrible mistreatment of Roma immigrants when it legalized same-sex marriage. Nobody thought that South Africa was diverting attention from the painful, enduring remnants of apartheid when it gained marriage equality. Yet many LGBTQ activists freely impute to Israel a malign motive in expanding rights to sexual minorities.

More. This story has legs, and is leading to some interesting self-analysis by the LGBTQ left.

This includes a heartfelt letter to Task Force executive director Rea Carey that was co-signed by numerous (albeit overwhelmingly Jewish) LGBT activists and thought leaders, stating in part:

We also believe that the Task Force as well as all other LGBTQ organizations need to consider and adopt some form of an “active pluralism” policy with respect to these issues. Such a policy, while respecting the free speech rights of individuals and groups, would not allow protesters to effectively censor the speech of other groups, much less threaten the physical well-being and safety of those with whom they do not agree, including Jewish and Israeli LGBTQ groups. Given the concentrated and organized hostility that is so often displayed against Jewish and Israeli LGBTQ groups, and the stark rise in global anti-Semitism, it is even more important that we as a community promote civil and respectful debate.

A nice piece in the Washington Post by liberal Jonathan Capehart comments on video of the anti-Israeli protestors chanting,“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

Writes Capehart, “Those words are alarming because Palestine can’t get ‘from the river to the sea’ without wiping the Jewish state off the map.” Well, that’s the idea.

At the Huffington Post, Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, blogs that:

The Creating Change conference is, like it or not, a business. Their customer base is now college students subsidized by their LGBTQ centers who are immersed in intersectionality, microaggressions and trigger warnings, and other forms of queer theory chic. One friend described it as students suffering from micro-aggressions getting macro-angry.

Beyer also quotes a letter to Carey from Tony Varona, a law professor at American University and former legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, in which he observes:

I’ve also found that the messages from the plenaries and sessions so far have been much more akin to the amorphous, sometimes incoherent “radical chic” anarchy-light demands of the Occupy movement than the much more substantive, productive, tangible resource-building messages of past Creating Changes, and as you might know, I’ve been to a bunch of Creating Changes since I was on staff at HRC (between ’97 and ’02).

I’ve heard much more about the abolition of prisons, police, borders and the state itself — really, the abolition of authority of any kind — at this Creating Change, than I have about grassroots lobbying and GOTV [get out the vote] work. In fact I’ve heard nothing of the latter. I’ve heard much more about who does not belong at Creating Change, who should be silenced, and who should be excluded from or pushed out of the tent, than I’ve heard about the importance of diversity and inclusion. Yet isn’t diversity, unity, inclusion, and conversation what Creating Change has long been about?

Many of the responses point to the problem of political intolerance (yes, “political correctness”) that’s come to dominate life on U.S. campuses of late. Students are indoctrinated into an ideology that justifies mob tactics to silence the expression of views deemed insufficiently progressive (and anyone else’s views are in constant danger of being declared by the mob to be insufficiently progressive).

Here’s hoping this self-examination on the left will lead to positive change.

Pre-Op Trans Olympians, What Could Go Wrong?

The International Olympic Committee has received new recommendations for guidelines it’s expected to adopt, opening the door for more trans athletes to compete internationally, reports outsports.com. The recommendations address allowing competition by transgender athletes who have had gender reassignment surgery, as well as those who have not yet had surgery, or have chosen not to do so although their gender identity is at odds with their genitalia.

This may not pose much of an issue for competitions in which transmen compete against cisgender men, but it is likely to raise issues for transwomen whose bodies have been developmentally male. Nevertheless, the recommendations state:

To require surgical anatomical changes as a pre-condition to participation is not necessary to preserve fair competition and may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights. …

Those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category under the following conditions:

• The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.

• The athlete must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).

• The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.

Regardless of testosterone levels, the first time a pre-op transwoman takes a medal competing against cisgender women—think about a younger Caitlyn Jenner in a women’s track and field event—it’s going to get ugly.

‘Creating Change’ of the Worst Kind

[I’m moving forward this update to a prior post, LGBTQ Task Force Exemplifies Bigotry of the Left.]

In Chicago, at the LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference, censorship by disruption by the anti-Israeli LBGTQ left. As is typical of their tactics, “de-platforming” those with views they want to silence replaces any pretense of discussion or debate.

And, of course, the LGBTQ Task Force caves in, again: “Protesters on Friday forced the cancellation of a reception at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual conference that was to have featured two advocates from Israel.”

Said Arthur Slepian, executive director of A Wider Bridge:

These remarkable LGBT leaders from Israel, who do great work in the very diverse and challenging city of Jerusalem, had spent the last six months helping their community heal and recover from the trauma of a barbaric act of anti-gay violence at last summer’s Jerusalem Pride march. They expected to be supported and embraced by the U.S. LGBT community at Creating Change. Instead, the protestors denied their humanity and silenced their voices, and the conference tragically did little to provide for their safety and security.

From the Windy City Times:

A Jan. 22 statement from Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network summarized the protesters’ objections. “For several years the Israeli government has attempted to use propaganda about the freedoms some LGBTQs in that country have as a cover for their increasingly brutal rule over Palestinians, a process known as ‘pinkwashing,'” the statement said. …

Earlier in the week, Black Lives Matter Chicago voiced its disapproval of AWB’s participation at Creating Change, drawing correlations between the experiences of African Americans and the Palestinians. In a statement, they said, “They/We navigate heavily surveilled and detained realities on tightropes. They/We are expected to be grateful to those that itemize their/our pain to strengthen existing norms. As is routine for too many souls across the globe, They/We must negotiate oppressions as a provision of harm reduction and triage.”

Faith Cheltenham, president of BiNet USA, took part in the protest and said shortly after it ended that she saw it as part of a larger effort to get “our movement back.”

Sort of speaks for itself. It’s the LGBTQ faction of the left that’s characterized by being anti-America, anti-West, anti-capitalism, and anti-Israel.

More. Task Force head Rea Carey issued this statement, which starts out strong but then becomes wishy-washy pap:

“I want to make this crystal clear: the National LGBTQ Task Force wholeheartedly condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic statements made at any Task Force event including our Creating Change Conference. … Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable whether it’s directed at Jewish or Muslim people. …

The last couple of weeks leading-up to Creating Change have been rough. The events leading up to and during it have been extremely hurtful to many — and for really different reasons. What we all are experiencing is complicated and messy. We know that many people at Creating Change share our belief in the self-determination of all people. And for many we have failed to live up to the ideals of our mission or values. We are leaning into the struggle.

As Creating Change has grown to over 4,000 people, we are experiencing some of what happens when we ask people to be their full selves, to bring their whole selves to Creating Change… and those whole selves come into conflict.

A Brief History of ‘Political Correctness’

An interesting style article in the Washington Post recently looked at How ‘politically correct’ went from compliment to insult, and from politics to sexuality and back to politics.

As writer Caitlin Gibson explains, the phrase originated in the 1930s as “the proper position for a member of the U.S. Communist Party to take on a particular issue.” In the 1960s, feminist and lesbian circles adopted the phrase, “sometimes as a fairly neutral term…and sometimes with a tiny hint of judgment” about ideological rigidity.

What’s politically correct, of course, changes over time. Gibson recounts that a 1979 book on the lesbian community noted, “In America among many political lesbians, bisexuality is regarded as a betrayal … [therefore] the politically correct thing is to define oneself as a lesbian.”

In the 1980s, campus activists embraced the concept unapologetically, as in “P.C. and Proud.” By the mid-‘80s, however, politically correct “was being leveled by some conservative critics with heavy doses of irony against what they viewed as…liberal pieties.”

In 1995, lesbian activist Urvashi Vaid wrote:

[Gay] Conservatives derided the 1993 March on Washington as the epitome of “political correctness” for its requirement that all delegations to its national steering committee be gender balanced and racially diverse. When gay conservatives criticized the 1993 march for insisting that 50 percent of all steering committee members be people of color, on the grounds that such representation inaccurately reflected the demographics of the community, what message were they sending to gay communities of color? That they believe people of color will not fairly represent whites?

There were some 120 people on the steering committee representing all 50 states plus U.S. territories, so if a state sent two reps one had to be a woman; if she wasn’t a woman of color, then the second representative couldn’t be a white male. (And yes, for supporting this and similarly arch positions, some of us called Vaid out for political correctness).

Today, the left no longer uses the phrase, except to deny that such a thing as “political correctness” even exists as anything other than a right-wing slur. But these denials seem to take the form (and this is me paraphrasing): “There is no such thing as political correctness, and if you try to say there is, we will demand that your invitation to speak be rescinded and/or shout so loud when you try to speak that no one will be able to listen to you, and then we’ll lobby to get you fired.”

HRC for HRC

The Human Rights Campaign’s endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton for president was no surprise, given the close ties between the lobby’s leaders and the Clintons. But coming before the first primaries, it was sure to tick off the Sandernistas, and indeed they felt the Bern.

“It’s understandable and consistent with the establishment organizations voting for the establishment candidate, but it’s an endorsement that cannot possibly be based on the facts and the record,” Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told the Washington Blade.

I preferred it when HRC just endorsed congressional candidates, prior to the group first presidential endorsement, that being Bill Clinton in 1992. Before then, the group could lay a claim to actual bipartisanship, supporting a fair number of socially inclusive Republicans. But once HRC tied itself so closely to Democratic presidential nominees, it was seen as the party’s outreach arm to lesbian and gay (and later, LGBT) voters. One reason the National Stonewall Democrats closed up shop is that its efforts were seen as redundant with HRC’s.

On a practical level, the early endorsement is viewed by many as bad tactics. Other lobbies on the left and the right make Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, respectively, compete fiercely for their support; HRC pretty much gives it away on the first date.

As Scott Shackford writes at reason.com:

[Many] perceive the HRC leadership as aspiring political operatives securing their own futures rather than actual LGBT activists and compromising so as not to harm their relationship with the Democratic Party elites.

The timing of the endorsement is itself evidence for the argument. … A look at poll averages right now showing Clinton vs. various Republican candidates and Sanders vs. various Republican candidates suggests it’s all extremely up in the air. Sanders does come out on top in some match-ups.

Shackford concludes:

For not a small number of people in the LGBT left, Sanders’ criticism of HRC will not hurt him at all and might actually help him get some primary votes, particularly among older, disaffected gay voters who remember both Clinton’s and the HRC’s histories.

As this blog has pointed out before, not rocking the Democratic Party establishment is HRC’s specialty. During the initial two years of the Obama administration when Democrats enjoyed filibuster-proof majorities in Congress, HRC failed to aggressively push, much less demand, that Democrats move forward with what was then its top agenda item, passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act. The bill was never moved out of committee, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (among others) didn’t want to spend the political capital.

The one big achievement of the session, repeal of the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy, lay dormant until just weeks before Congress was set to recess with a GOP majority slated to take over the House, when the grass-roots erupted and pushed congressional allies in both parties to force an end run around an again hesitant Reid, while HRC sat on the sidelines.