Okay, I know this blog can be a downer.
I think a lot of the “what the hell is going on here” tone of too many of my posts is due to the fact that I’m a perpetually disappointed optimist. Had I approached life with lower expectations, I might have simply shrugged and moved on, but I have always believed that despite ups and downs, the human trajectory is ultimately a progressive one. Over the past several years, most of the available evidence has seemed to rebut that presumption, so you can see where I might get testy.
That said, the current “Pence mess” in Indiana, believe it or not, has made me cautiously optimistic.
Granted, our elected officials–and especially our utterly clueless Governor–have inflicted significant and totally unnecessary damage on my city and state. Granted, too, the fact that we elected these bozos testifies to widespread abandonment of political engagement by most thoughtful Hoosiers.
But the overwhelming anger and pushback over the passage and signing of the “Religious Freedom Act”–from citizens, from CEOs, from Universities, from mayors, from faith communities–is an incredibly positive occurrence.
Leave aside the contending analyses of what Indiana’s RFRA would or would not do. What is beyond dispute is that this measure was instigated by, and intended to placate, right-wing organizations smarting from their loss on the issue of marriage equality. Its anti-gay symbolism was intentional, and a negative response from LGBT folks and their allies should have been anticipated (although it clearly wasn’t).
The depth and breadth of that response, however, wasn’t foreseeable. Three thousand people turned out to a protest organized a mere two or three days before–many of them people I know who have never before participated in a demonstration. The business community, the civic community, religious communities, the media–rose up as one to say “This mean-spiritedness does not represent us. Hoosiers are better than this.” (And by the way, Governor, insisting that you oppose discrimination rings pretty hollow when you also oppose civil rights for LGBT folks.)
The NCAA and even Nascar have piled on.
Dare I let Pollyanna whisper in my ear once more? Might it be that a period of apathy and resignation, a period when nice people just bemoaned bigotry and “talked amongst themselves” on social media and within more inclusive communities, is coming to an end? Might we be seeing the last throes of the Christian Taliban–those who Molly Ivins memorably called “Shiite Baptists”?
Could we be entering into a “Network” age, when people are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?
I plan to stay tuned…