The 15 demands were divided into three categories—“immediate,” to be met by the end of the semester; “short-term,” to be met by Fall 2018; and “long-term,” to be met by Spring 2019.
Immediate demands include mandatory gender and sexuality training for staff and faculty and access to LGBTQIA+ resources. The five short-term demands include a class on queer theology and establishing a number of scholarships for queer or trans students. All four long-terms demands involve hiring faculty and staff who are either trans, queer or can provide LGBTQIA+ resources.
Thursday morning, [Divinity School head Elaine] Heath sent an email to members of the Divinity School addressing the previous day’s incident.
“The issues raised by the students point to the need to continue this dialogue to grow as a diverse and hospitable community that generates an environment for deeper and broader theological reflection and formation, amidst a church and culture that is divided and faces further fragmentation,” she wrote.
Heath also asked the community to shift from “mirroring the polarization of society” to achieve “discernment and creativity, together.” She pointed to the Divinity School’s work with Sacred Worth, the school’s LGBTQIA+ student group, including designating a room for the organization and inviting members of the group to give a presentation to the faculty.
However, [protesters’ spokeswoman Madeline] Reyes said she was “infuriated” by Heath’s response. She noted that some protesters were members of Sacred Worth themselves.
Now, Elaine Heath deserves whatever she gets from these militants. Last year, her PC appeasement of radicals drove one professor out of the school (I reported on that here). I have no doubt that these militants will get whatever they demand, and Duke Divinity School will continue down the road to ruin. In a sane world, those students who interrupted the dean’s address with their bullhorns would be suspended; they plainly have no idea what it means to be part of a scholarly community. But that won’t happen. Power-holders like Elaine Heath and Andrew Hamilton will collapse in the face of progressive militancy.
You might think: universities are bubbles unto themselves, and what happens there won’t hurt me. You’re wrong. Universities are only at the leading edge of a society-wide movement. As the Indiana RFRA debacle in 2015 — of which Memories Pizza was a part — showed that progressives don’t have to win over ordinary people to exercise power. They only have to win over power-holding corporate elites.
Finally, take a look at this sign of the times: Mike Huckabee was forced to resign from the board of the Country Music Association Foundation, CMA’s charitable arm, one day after he was appointed to it. When I first heard about it this morning, I assumed that it was because he had become too politically divisive, given his tub-thumping for Trump. Yes, that was it, sort of. But here’s the real reason:
Jason Owen, co-president of Monument Records and owner at Sandbox Entertainment, called the appointment a “grossly offensive decision” in an email to the association’s CEO Sarah Trahern and CMA Foundation executive Tiffany Kerns.
Owen wrote that due to Huckabee’s election to the CMA Foundation’s board, neither his companies, nor anyone they represent would continue to support the foundation.
Owen and his husband Sam are fathers to a young son and are expecting twins. Owen said that Huckabee’s stance on the LGBTQ community “made it clear my family is not welcome in his America.”
“The CMA has opened their arms to him, making him feel welcome and relevant,” Owen wrote. “Huckabee speaks of the sort of things that would suggest my family is morally beneath his and uses language that has a profoundly negative impact upon young people all across this country. Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is. What a shameful choice.”
So, get this straight: a former Southern governor and ordained Southern Baptist minister was forced off the board of a Nashville-based country music philanthropy because he supports traditional marriage. Look, I think Mike Huckabee, who I supported in the 2008 GOP primaries, has made a fool of himself with his Trumpishness, but when he is not permitted to serve on a country music board because he is a traditional Christian on the subject of gay marriage, then cultural conservatives like me — and you, reader — had better pay attention. We might be more winsome (I hate that word) than Mike Huckabee, but we are no different in the eyes of the left-wing militants. I have been resisting this conclusion hard for a long time, but I can see with each passing day that it is becoming untenable. You don’t have to like Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, or any of that populist tribe to understand that they are not coming for your job, and they are not trying to drive you out of decent society.
I’ll close by re-upping one of the most popular posts I’ve ever published here: my interview with the pseudonymous “Professor Kingsfield,” a law professor and Christian deeply closeted at one of the most elite law schools in America. I did this interview in 2015, after the Indiana RFRA event. It’s almost three years old, but it holds up very well. Excerpts:
What prompted his reaching out to me? “I’m very worried,” he said, of events of the last week. “The constituency for religious liberty just isn’t there anymore.”
Like me, what unnerved Prof. Kingsfield is not so much the details of the Indiana law, but the way the overculture treated the law. “When a perfectly decent, pro-gay marriage religious liberty scholar like Doug Laycock, who is one of the best in the country — when what he says is distorted, you know how crazy it is.”
“Alasdair Macintyre is right,” he said. “It’s like a nuclear bomb went off, but in slow motion.” What he meant by this is that our culture has lost the ability to reason together, because too many of us want and believe radically incompatible things.
But only one side has the power. When I asked Kingsfield what most people outside elite legal and academic circles don’t understand about the way elites think, he said “there’s this radical incomprehension of religion.”
“They think religion is all about being happy-clappy and nice, or should be, so they don’t see any legitimate grounds for the clash,” he said. “They make so many errors, but they don’t want to listen.”
To elites in his circles, Kingsfield continued, “at best religion is something consenting adult should do behind closed doors. They don’t really understand that there’s a link between Sister Helen Prejean’s faith and the work she does on the death penalty. There’s a lot of looking down on flyover country, one middle America.
“The sad thing,” he said, “is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don’t hold. It’s all about power. They’ve got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They’ve got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good.”
On the conservative side, said Kingsfield, Republican politicians are abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life.
“The fact that Mike Pence can’t articulate it, and Asa Hutchinson doesn’t care and can’t articulate it, is shocking,” Kingsfield said. “Huckabee gets it and Santorum gets it, but they’re marginal figures. Why can’t Republicans articulate this? We don’t have anybody who gets it and who can unite us. Barring that, the craven business community will drag the Republican Party along wherever the culture is leading, and lawyers, academics, and media will cheer because they can’t imagine that they might be wrong about any of it.”
The emerging climate on campus of microaggressions, trigger warnings, and the construal of discourse as a form of violence is driving Christian professors further into the closet, the professor said.
“If I said something that was construed as attacking a gay student, I could have my life made miserable with a year or two of litigation — and if I didn’t have tenure, there could be a chance that my career would be ruined,” he said. “Even if you have tenure, a few people who make allegations of someone being hateful can make a tenured professor’s life miserable.”
“What happened to Brendan Eich” — the tech giant who was driven out of Mozilla for having made a small donation years earlier to the Prop 8 campaign — “is going to start happening to a lot of people, and Christians had better be ready for it. The question I keep thinking about is, why would we want to do that to people? But that’s where we are now.”
I pointed out that the mob hysteria that descended on Memories Pizza, the mom & pop pizza shop in small-town Indiana that had to close its doors (temporarily, one hopes) after its owners answered a reporter’s question truthfully, is highly instructive to the rest of us.
“You’re right,” he said. “Memories Pizza teaches us all a lesson. What is the line between prudently closing our mouths and closeting ourselves, and compromising our faith? Christians have to start thinking about that seriously.”
UPDATE: Reader Mac61 writes:
This won’t be useful to anyone, but despite growing up in a political household and volunteering for numerous campaigns, I believe politics is worthless. If all of our differences are going to be hashed out in courts, legislatures, ridiculous clownshows called presidential campaigns and corporate boardrooms, it’s over.
I abandoned the left 20 years ago, became conservative just in time to see W trash everything I believed in. Would like to be moderate (Kasich was my guy) but both parties purged their mocerates long ago. Moderates were the first to be marginalized.
I don’t think the Moderate Militant Middle Class Milquetoast Caucus, aka The Live-And-Let-Live Party, will have any influence on the scorched earth culture war. Politics is hopeless.
Might the Progressive=LGBTQTIA movement go too far? The pendulum is theirs now to take as far as they want.
My guess is they go too far.
But I am not interested in this political mess. It’s hopeless. But I am also not interested in war. Bless your enemies.Bless those who persecute you. I am not liberal. I am not conservative. In the world to come, there are neither Republicans nor Democrats. The faith has survived 2,000 years (4,000 years for others) under all kinds of conditions. We might have to die. We might have to go underground. So what? Can you imagine what Oscar Romero had to go through watching two idiotic violent factions take him to his death? Trust in God. And follow God. But I have zero faith in the Republican Party to do anything but continue to shred everything that would have sustained a conservative movement in this country.
Politics is hopeless. It’s over. Unless the pendulum goes too far, which it will.
UPDATE.2: The great Jones weighs in, at last:
Ugh. Unusually crap comments. Your anonymous correspondent deserves better. In general, it would be better if those few of us who get could have a conversation among ourselves, and screen out the nonsense. We all know now that the pretense of “dialogue” and “debate” is a sham. But that’s what it means to be underground — to be constantly hounded and hunted down by the restless hegemony.
To the correspondent:
What you said about internalizing the attacks is important. As social animals, it’s really hard not to feel, on some visceral level, like a criminal when you deviate from the herd. Even though you’re right. It’s built into us.
Even harder, speaking as a fellow quasi-academic: suppressing the desire to engage, to be intellectually honest and charitable to your opponents/enemies. I speak as someone who’s spent most of my life dedicated to dispassionate debate, to fidelity to the intellectual virtues. With the alt-right and Trump supporters, I was sort of a fellow traveler for a while. I had many of the same critiques, though I rejected their solutions. But in the end, I had to really make sure that one fact sunk in: these people hate me. (I’m a Muslim.) At the end of the day there’s a conflict, whether you want one or not. You don’t always get to choose whether you have to wage war.
Same with progressives. No one should be taken in by their murmuring about “social justice” or “rights.” Their actions only come into clear focus when you look at them through the lens of power. It’s as if an enormous burden has been lifted from their shoulders, with the election of Donald Trump. Any pretense of fair-mindedness or compromise can now be gleefully abandoned. And what a relief . . . because it’s soooo painful! Now we can all do what we really want to do deep down, which is sling mud without shame or guilt. The naked ends-justify-the-means logic of their project is revealed for all to see. And that cat is never going back into the bag.
I wouldn’t let any of that stuff get to you . . . it’s Satan whispering in your ear, trying to sow confusion and doubt in your heart. It really doesn’t matter what these people have to say.
The comments to this post are unusually sh-t, I would guess, because you wrote about voting for Trump. Despite their claim to have advanced us beyond such primitive, barbaric forms of morality, these people still think in terms of taboo, as of course they must. And voting for Trump is a taboo for them, a sacred line marking off the bounds of decency itself. So an unusually high number of people have written to lash out at your post, kind of grasping at whatever they can to fling at you. That accounts for the — to me, surprising — number of people writing about something that seems tangential and not very important to the themes of your letter.
I really hated Trump and his supporters. Really did. And I feared a lot for this country when he was elected. A lot has happened since then though. As I see it the worst possibilities have largely been contained. I tried to argue against his presidency to people on the right by trying to convince them that Trump wouldn’t make much of a difference on the things that really mattered, and might even hurt their cause — possibly even cripple it, by associating it so clearly with incompetence and blatant venality. I think that’s pretty close to what’s happening. Flynn is out. Bannon is out. There’s a lot of dangerous and bad stuff actually or potentially happening but much of it is contained by our system working more or less as it is supposed to.
And I will concede that there is one thing I’m kind of grateful for. Electing Trump showed that these people are vulnerable. The success of progressivism is not guaranteed. That is why they are reacting so badly. This is not in the script. It’s not supposed to happen. Unfortunately, along with Trump’s damage being contained, the other side of the prediction is bearing out as well. Progressivism’s sources of strength are not rooted in any temporary political victories, but in a deeper realignment of power. And electing Trump is not doing much of anything to really challenge that. The social and cultural reeducation agenda is proceeding according to plan. I honestly never thought this heinous ideology would make it this far, nor knew just how disgusting it would look in practice.
Anyway, more recently I’ve had some surprising thoughts about Trump. On a visceral level, I’m deeply fearful of what would happen if Trump failed to win the next election. That feels borderline insane, and I want to learn more about what damage is really being done out there. But I think there’s no doubt that progressivism is the real enemy, and the one we’ll be dealing with for a while. The rise of progressivism is tied to a generational shift, and the answer is going to have to come from a completely new force that hasn’t begun to form yet.
The starting point is people who appreciate the critical lens of the “new right,” but recognize that the Trump movement is not an answer. And it’s going to have to be people under 35. Imagine if everyone over that age disappeared from America?