Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Buttigieg, Buttigieg, Buttigieg!

I didn't pay much attention to Pete Buttigieg until recently, but when I did I wondered how an openly gay man managed to be elected and re-elected mayor of a midwestern city.  I later learned that he didn't come out until he was already in office, but he still won re-election to a second term.  South Bend is a strongly Catholic city, but Buttigieg didn't take the Church-submissive line that he would abstain from sodomy; indeed, he got married to another man.  I still don't know how that happened without him being ejected from office, but it did, and that's one reason I was prepared to like him - until I learned more about his policies.

Then Nathan J. Robinson wrote a long critique of Buttigieg's memoir, explaining in careful detail why Buttigieg is not someone who should be in the White House, or in office at all probably.  He did an excellent job of it, and it has been interesting to see the responses he got from Buttigieg fans and other centrist Democrats.  There was the predictable passive-aggressive stuff, like why he was so divisive in a time when we must be united against Trump; the accusations of bias; the complaints that the piece was so long.  Several people declared that Robinson should have talked to Buttigieg's fans in South Bend, as though attending to and analyzing Buttigieg's own words was somehow unfair, as though Buttigieg's book was unrepresentative of him and of no interest.  There was a lot of proudly flaunted anti-intellectualism, which sometimes went hand in hand with a celebration of Mayor Pete's great intellectual gifts.

The complaints about divisiveness were amusing, and Robinson addressed them seriously in a follow-up article.  But they'd have come up no matter which candidate he criticized.  The strange thing to me is that there are a lot of Democrats with hats in the ring, and we have almost a year before the primaries begin.  What is any voter supposed to do in the meantime, just sit back and worship them all?  For that matter, what rational person imagines that the candidates won't criticize each other as they go for the gold?  I'm surely not the only voter old enough to remember Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's attacks on each other in 2008, or Clinton and her fans' attacks on Bernie Sanders in 2016.  These people are just parroting talking points.

After the frantic anti-Trump homophobia of liberal Democrats, I wasn't exactly surprised to see some of the same directed at Buttigieg, and not (apparently) by Republicans. Try this one, from a grad student with "a focus on Marxism and the Middle East, a self-styled "E girl communist" whatever that is.

I'm not quite sure what it's supposed to mean, but it's extremely stupid and bigoted.  It's the kind of rhetoric I'd expect from a Trump supporter rather than an E girl communist if I didn't know better.

Then there was this one, even more blatant, from another self-identified Marxist.

Ah yes, that's how you show solidarity with gay and transpeople: with ferociously homophobic rhetoric right out of a locker room.  There are plenty of good reasons to distrust and oppose Pete Buttigieg, and plenty of good ways to express distrust and opposition, even on Twitter; this sort of frothing isn't one of them.

These are all I've seen so far, but I think it's safe to say there'll be more.  I have not yet seen any homophobic diatribes against Buttigieg by the Right, though they must be out there.  Just because a few right-wing standard bearers like Jennifer Rubin and David Brooks approve of him, that doesn't mean that the real conservatives, the people of the land, aren't seething over a sodomite presiding over the city of Notre Dame. But it doesn't excuse self-proclaimed leftists or LBGTQ allies when they fall back on the same vicious rhetoric as those they profess to hate.  Already it's impossible to say which is which.