Very predictably, the GOP, in trying to woo back its hard-core base, is using the Foley scandal to demonize gays.
First of all, regarding Rep. Foley's sexual orientation, I am sure that gays and lesbians everywhere felt the need for a long, hot shower after his revelation. It has as much validity explaining his behavior as his supposed alcoholism (which conveniently gets him to rehab, and out of the media spotlight).
As I wrote on another blog, perhaps we need to make special glbt community awards for people like Foley and former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey (who attempted to put an Israeli boyfriend on the state payroll as Homeland Security advisor, and later hired him as a special counsel). I suggested something I initiated back in the 90s, a Roy Cohn Memorial Award. Gay role models, these men are not.
However, equating homosexuality with pedophilia is a convenient way of both changing the subject, and evading the real story...that Republicans do not believe in accountability and refuse to police their own, all while claiming an illusionary higher 'moral' ground.
It wasn't Foley's sexual orientation that made him immoral. It was his inappropriate contact with pages. The many heterosexual politicians, both Republican and Democrat, who have been engaged in sex scandals of their own, do not tar all heterosexuals. So why apply a different standard here?
It's reassuring that some responsible writers in the media are drawing attention to this most recent chorus of demonization.
Today, Eugene Robinson, in his Washington Post column writes about how he feels the GOP right-wingers might be about to
purge its gay staffers, maybe symbolically burn a few at the stake, and continue to pretend that you can legislate what is permitted to reside in American hearts and minds.
In the Boston Herald, Margery Eagan, critical of the gay-bashing, noted the following instances of it in the public arena:
“Here is the real problem. It has been known for many years that Congressman Foley was a homosexual. Homosexuals tend to be preoccupied with sex,” said conservative commentator Paul Weyrich on left-leaning National Public Radio, of all places.
Last week on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Counsel, told Chris Matthews, “There’s clear research that shows that homosexual men are more likely to abuse children than straight men.”
Commentator Patrick Buchanan went on MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” and said of Foley, “Did you know he was this kind of flamer?” Buchanan then implied, with no evidence, that Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton are sympathetic to NAMBLA, the man/boy love association.
The fact that some in the media are objectively drawing attention to this GOP strategy is refreshing.
In an editorial in Saturday's Washington Post, it is noted,
the ugly undertone of homophobia surrounding the uproar over Mr. Foley's conduct also cries out for comment and condemnation.
Some anti-gay conservatives who have anointed themselves protectors of family values have been peddling the misguided notion that Mr. Foley's sexual orientation made him more likely to prey on children.
The editorial's headline is, "Anti-gay Ugliness: What's homosexuality got to do with it?"
The answer is clear.
Such a deflection allows these shameless pols to avoid taking responsibility for their lack of oversight and accountability. Gay-bashing has worked for them in the past and, faced with dire poll numbers, they are marching out the same tired strategy again.
The only difference this time is that it seems America is catching on to the deception.
For the sake of America's true moral high ground, let's hope so.