Morality is a politeness of the soul. Deep politeness means we make accommodations. Certain basic truths are inalienable. Discrimination is always wrong. In cases of actual bigotry, the hammer comes down. But as neighbors in a pluralistic society we try to turn philosophic clashes (about right and wrong) into neighborly problems in which different people are given space to have different lanes to lead lives. In cases where people with different values disagree, we seek a creative accommodation.We expect Brooks to be exasperating in this way. We're not surprised that "the well-mannered moral monster," as Pierce describes him,"would like all those hysterical gay people to start using their inside voices and to understand that their desire for equal protection under the law would be better served if they understood the feelings of the people who think they are sodomite insects who are all going to hell."
But what am I hearing from Shakesville's Melissa McEwan, a committed progressive? She's an Indiana resident, and she's written a post for a site called Model View Culture in which she also chides progressives for urging a boycott of Indiana, and in which she further argues that the regressive nature of the state is actually progressives' fault:
Many of the people calling for the boycott are, realistically, individuals who have never set foot in Indiana, never will, and probably couldn’t pick out Indiana on a map. But there were also corporate leaders who immediately embraced the notion of a boycott. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced his company would be “cancelling all required travel to the state of Indiana,” and called on “other tech CEOs and tech industry leaders to please take a stand.”(Let me interrupt right there. "People on the precipice don’t have the luxury of principled resistance"? Does McEwan think the participants in the Montgomery bus boycott were part of the economic elite? A century ago, were the strikers who built America's labor movement part of the 1%, in McEwan's estimation?)
Hoosiers are already hurting economically....
The idea that we need more pressure in order to be moved to do something is absurd. People on the precipice don’t have the luxury of principled resistance. We are too busy trying to survive.
What you need to understand about Indiana is that the state government doesn’t give a fuck about the people of the state. If you don’t, either, you’re on their side. Not ours.Yes, we effectively wrote this legislation, according to McEwan, by not rebuilding the state's economy from scratch with a benignly carpetbaggish crash program of progressive entrepreneurialism. (Those of us who have absolutely no head for business are, I guess, guilty even if we have nothing of this kind to offer Indiana -- hey, you know what you are if you're not part of the solution....)
The truth is, progressives with resources have been boycotting Indiana for decades. That’s actually why we’re in this situation. If you want to know what a boycott would really look like, what result institutional neglect will really have, this is it. This legislation -- it’s the result of Indiana having been de facto boycotted for years, written off as a place unworthy of investment by people who could help.
...What a generalized boycott of Indiana would do is harm working people -- among whom are queer business owners, as well as queer employees of inclusive and supportive employers, and also queer employees of discriminatory employers, because that’s the only job they can get in a state with far too few jobs.That's right -- we're pressuring Indiana because we're the haters.
And let’s be honest here: It isn’t like the vast majority of people who are cheering “Boycott Indiana!” had any plans to visit Indiana and spend money in this state, anyway. It’s just a slogan to shout at a state they perceive to be full of fat, poor, lazy, conservative, straight, cis, white people.
Which underlines what’s really the worst thing about this idea: It’s reflective of a vicious stereotype that disappears the existence of the very people for whom the sloganeers purport to care.
I'm at a loss. I don't know where to begin.
I'm struck, though, by how much overlap there is between McEwan's leftier-than-thou cry of rage and the self-satisfied windbaggery of Brooks. Ultimately, isn't McEwan also calling for "deep politeness" while excoriating those who choose confrontation? Isn't McEwan arguing that we should never fight and should always look for a "creative accommodation"?
And aren't they both full of it?
(McEwan post via Tom Watson at Forbes.)