Hate along the Wabash
The stately Sycamores lining the banks of the Wabash must be bowing their branches in shame. In late March, the Governor of Indiana signed a state law granting business' in that state the right to decline to serve anyone to whom they religiously object to doing business with. It is blatantly clear that the target of law's allowance for discrimination is LGBT Americans. And before the ink of his signature was dry, the whole thing blew up in his face with massive national and local protests. It was and is all about gay rights.
Of course, the law does not actually mention LGBT people; doing that would be unconstitutionally singling out a class of citizens for discrimination. This seemingly clever dodge was ignored in the uproar of outrage that ensued. And so, the result of this new law is that anyone in Indiana with a real or imaginary 'religion' of any sort can decide to discriminate against 'anyone' or any group that they don't like and claim that their 'religion' gives them that right. The problem with such badly written laws is encapsulated in the old caution: "Be careful what you wish for!"
The law actually allows discrimination against anyone including patriotic American veterans who have served our nation in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan who happen to be gay, or happen to be Black, or Hispanic, or Asian, or Catholic, or Jewish, etc.
You should now be beginning to notice a familiar historical smell to this law, or a stench. It was exactly that kind of law that was enacted by the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s against Jews and other 'minority' citizens suddenly branded as less than human 'foreigners.' The escalating 1930s laws of discrimination in Germany led to government permission to loot and burn synagogues and Jewish businesses, rape, robbery and murder, and ultimately to a national program of genocide. It all started with a few 'minor' laws allowing 'religion tainted' permission to discriminate.
I know, you're thinking, "Oh come on! What happened in Nazi Germany has nothing to do with what's going on here in America, the Democracy of Freedom." Really? In the same week that the Governor of Indiana legalized discrimination in his state, a California legislator introduced legislation that would require all homosexuals to be shot in the head, dead. And legislation more of less similar to the Indiana law has been under legislative consideration in several other states including Arkansas and Georgia. In Texas, the same week, a conservative legislator actually cited the Nazi laws of discrimination as a justification for a proposed 'religious freedom law.' Now, of course, here in America, in our democracy, such laws would or should be countered and overruled by acts of Congress which would invoke the Constitutional prohibition against such discrimination. BUT, alas, its not happening because the American people have put far right religious conservatives in power in both houses of Congress who lack the will or desire to do the right thing.
The people of Indiana should remember the words of the Rev. Martin Neimoller, regarding the Nazi laws allowing selective discrimination:
came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
It all happened. And least we forget, in addition to the Nazi genocide killing six million Jews across Europe, they also killed one million homosexuals.
Here in America now, there are leaders and politicians of a particular political party who vehemently disgrace the name of God by claiming that their religion commands them to discriminate against minorities that they don't like. What kind of 'religion' is that? They are either deluding us or themselves about something seemingly Satanic that in reality is pure hate-mongering.
I know what hate-mongering smells like. I was born just outside the gates of hell to Holocaust refugee parents, just after the close of WWII. My upbringing was all about being taught what had happened; what happens when prejudice is enacted into law, when hate becomes state policy. My parents taught me that there is nothing more precious than American Freedom. I didn't forget the lesions about freedom. My parents hadn't planned on my becoming an American patriot who volunteered to serve; but nevertheless they were proud of my ten years of service. They hadn't planned on my being gay and becoming a victim of prejudice myself. But, they'd taught me to speak up in the face of prejudice. So, when the current bullshit about religious freedom to discriminate began, I remembered the history I was born into. Its about state sanctioned prejudice; the same kind that my parents had fled. Its all about the opposite of the American values I was taught. My parents are long gone, I'm an old veteran now; but I'm still not going to sit silent in the face of oppression. Speak up!
Since I wrote the above, it seems that in the face of economic catastrophe the Indiana legislature and governor quickly created and signed some sort of supposed "fix" for the law of discrimination. I have the sense that its some sort of ham handed heterosexual knuckle headed Hoosier manure that they can pretend smells good, at least to a farmer. It likely says something like 'the allowance to discriminate in no way allows discrimination."
The revised law seems to say that while a business may discriminate, they may not use the law as a defense in court where they are being sued for discrimination. Huh? That's very much like the ducked up wording of the Don't Ask Don't Tell law which was incoherently clear about a person being legally able to serve while being gay, But you couldn't tell anyone that you're gay while serving. Um yah sure.