As a closing topic, I want to talk briefly about dissension.
Some have complained about my articles from the basis of showing dissension. That somehow, since we’re close to our goal, we should all refrain from saying anything potentially negative about anyone else in the fight, and close ranks to achieve results.
It’s a tantalising notion. It sounds egalitarian. It’s anything but, and it’s not how to legitimately build success.
There is nothing immoral or even amoral in raising a concern that some group that has joined a cause (or even started a cause, as they insist*) may have either strayed from the original topic or may be subverting the real cause.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
If we refuse to self-inspect, if we turn a blind eye to the goals and the motivations of any individual group within a cause, we turn a blind eye to the overall direction of the cause.
It is a terrible thing to attempt to silence people who question something, purely on the basis of “let’s just not have dissent now”. It’s giving in, it may even be admitting there is a problem but you just don’t feel like dealing with it. A victory earned in such a situation is a hollow one.
No-one should feel ashamed of standing up and asking, “What’s really going on here?”, nor should they feel ashamed of standing up and asking, “Is this the right direction to take?”
The most powerful lesson any person or organisation can learn is self-introspection. Of knowing and understanding what ones real motivations are, and being amenable to changing the motivations if necessary.
Loyalty without question? Now that’s a truly immoral and dangerous path to walk, best pilloried by Joseph Heller in Catch-22:
Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. To Captain Black, every officer who supported his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a competitor, and he planned and plotted twenty-four hours a day to keep one step ahead. He would stand second to none in his devotion to country. When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. Each time Captain Black forged ahead of his competitors, he swung upon them scornfully for their failure to follow his example. Each time they followed his example, he retreated with concern and racked his brain for some new stratagem that would enable him to turn upon them scornfully again…
The more loyalty oaths a person signed, the more loyal he was; to Captain Black it was as simple as that, and he had Corporal Kolodny sign hundreds with his name each day so that he could always prove he was more loyal than anyone else.
“The important thing is to keep them pledging,” he explained to his cohorts. “It doesn’t matter whether they mean it or not. That’s why they make little kids pledge allegiance even before they know what ‘pledge’ and ‘allegiance’ means.”
(Joseph Heller, Catch-22.)
Don’t turn marriage equality into a loyalty oath crusade.
* I would disagree with this on the broader scale, despite the foundations of any individual groups.