They scared President Barack Obama’s “Green Jobs Czar” into resigning (see previous article) for having the temerity to sign an online petition asking for an investigation into possible government complicity in the 2001 terror attacks. Now American conservatives have a new and tastier victim in sight: an openly gay educator. This time they’re after Kevin Jennings, the director of Obama’s “Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools” (I won’t even go into the silliness of having such a position in government – remember when we had a Department of Education? Oh, wait – we still do!).
Nothing scares a conservative like the thought of men having sex with each other. Women, that’s different – straight men will pay money to see that. But the thought of two men naked together, maybe even saying things like “I love you”, is intolerable to the right wing in this country. Never mind that the conservatives have confused sex with lifestyle, and lust with love. Never mind they are up against millenia of history wherein gays have always existed as part of every society on Earth. Never mind they are denying fundamental human rights to their countrymen, neighbors, and family members. Forget all that. This guy Jennings is an educator, someone who is underpaid and treated with disdain to hold a sacred trust of actually talking to our children so we don’t have to.
So how can someone with an openly pro-gay agenda possibly work for safe and drug-free schools? Easily. It’s not the “Office of Safe and Drug-Free, Homosexuality-Free Schools”. The problem is the word “Safe” in there – to conservatives homosexuals are all predators, you know, just waiting to get their hands on our kids. What, you didn’t know that? Well just open your eyes! It’s in the news every day: teachers are (seemingly) constantly getting caught having sex with students. Don’t be fooled that most of these incidents are heterosexual in nature – it’s the gays we should fear. Conservatives really believe this stuff. It’s what makes them so amusing, if not frightening.
It’s disgusting, really. Here is another example of ignorance and prejudice having their way with public debate and policy. If not checked they will hound Kevin Jennings from Washington for being openly gay. They didn’t ask, but he told. The fact that he doesn’t hide his sexuality in shame is his real “crime”. In todays ultra-partisan political atmosphere there is simply nothing a person can do to defend against this kind of prejudice. We just have to fight it based on simple moral grounds, on grounds of love, tolerance, and acceptance, and all those other Christian values the right doesn’t value.
Obama risks multiplying the damage done by the Van Jones resignation if he rolls-over on this one instead of standing and fighting. But so far the Obama administration doesn’t look like it’s much for fighting. If they can’t win these little hallway scuffles, how can they win the big fights for things like health-care reform, and ending the Bush Military Adventure in Iraq? A lot of people voted for Obama just because he promised to end the War – many of us are now wondering if he’s up to fighting to end the fighting.