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Donald Trump’s victory in November was not only the most important election result of our lifetimes, but ranks as one of the most significant events in recorded history, on par with the French Revolution or the fall of the Berlin Wall. And I’ll tell you why.


Western society is super-saturated with leftist propaganda. Politically astute non-leftists see it everywhere and complain about it incessantly — because it is ubiquitous. In fact, most of our waking hours are spent noticing, commenting upon, getting outraged by and then futilely combatting the endless, relentless leftist slant to everything in modern culture.

Every news broadcast. Every movie. Every lesson in every classroom. Every social signifier in public. Every poll. Every TV show. Every tribal shibboleth. In ways large and small, overt and covert, subtle and blatant, the society around us is infused with progressive ideals and agendas, whether you realize it or not.

And it’s not just the entire preschool-through-PhD educational system, the entire media/entertainment complex, and most interpersonal environments; increasingly, under Obama especially, the federal government itself has become an inescapable agent of coercive progressive propaganda imposed on us with the full force of the state.

But what is the purpose of all this propaganda?

The Goal of Indoctrination

The culture-wide brainwash we witness with chagrin every day is not designed to ignite a violent overthrow of the American political structure — long experience has proven that violent revolutions simply don’t happen in middle-class first-world countries. We’re too comfortable as a nation for that strategy to ever work. Instead, the ultimate goal of all this brainwashing and social intimidation is to make the general population VOTE as the Left wants us to vote.

Many of the progressives fighting (and seemingly winning) the “culture wars” may not even realize the ultimate purpose of their activism — most naively think that the goal of altering America’s social mores is merely to alter America’s social mores, and nothing beyond that. What other objective could there be?

The answer, of course, is obvious: Political change. While it is possible, I suppose, for a thoroughly left-wing society to accept being forever ruled by a conservative government, such a state of affairs never endures for long in the real world. Indeed, one of the core values at the heart of leftism (aside from the touchy-feely cultural stuff) is that the machinery of the state exists for the very purpose of imposing by force progressive ideology on the populace. So the “culture wars” can never be fully won until leftists have a firm grip on political power.

And how do you get political power in America? You don’t have a bloody revolution. Violent revolutions can only ever succeed in what were called “peasant societies” — czarist Russia, impoverished rural China, etc., where there were large populations of oppressed peasants — but never in industrialized countries, as Marx had incorrectly assumed.

Instead, in the United States of America, you gain power incrementally by winning elections. And the way you win elections is by changing the hearts and minds (and thus the voting patterns) of the hoi polloi.

The term for this process, in Marxist theory, is cultural hegemony, a phrase that was coined by communist philosopher Antonio Gramsci to describe how the political power-structure of a society is always determined by the cultural norms of that society. A conservative-minded populace will always vote for conservative-minded leaders, so the way to achieve communism in advanced nations, he argued, would be to first change the culture so that progressive ideals become dominant, and then people will simply vote themselves into communism without the need for a revolution.

And the way to change the culture, according to the theory, is to slowly infiltrate and then surreptitiously seize control of the “institutions” which shape cultural awareness — most importantly the mass media and the educational system. This process was strongly advocated by the influential leftist philosophers at the Frankfurt School, and was eventually given the catchy name “the long march through the institutions” by ’60s radical Rudi Dutschke.

So, it’s no accident, nor did it simply happen naturally, that everything in society since the 1950s seems to have shifted wildly leftward toward political correctness; it is in fact a decades-long strategic plan to change the underlying nature of society to pave the way for an eventual socialist utopia. And while part of that plan is to deny it even exists, in reality modern academia spends most of its time these days openly discussing and debating how to best implement it.

The point behind Gramscianism and “stealth communism” (as I call it) is that the revolution in the United States should not and can not be a violent revolution, but instead a quiet revolution in which the populace imposes communism on itself willingly — what Bernie Sanders correctly dubs “democratic socialism” — that is to say, by electing socialist leaders democratically.

Which brings us to the main point: The entire purpose of 60 years of slanted media and slanted news and slanted education and social pressure and brainwashing and deception and indoctrination — all of it, everything we complain about every day, all day, for years and years and years — the purpose of all this is to get people to vote for the most left-wing candidate in each presidential election. The goal is to bring about a self-imposed silent revolution in America, a democratically elected socialist government voted in by low-information rubes unaware of what they’re doing.

And it has looked ever since Obama’s ascendancy in 2008 that this long-term strategy had reached a tipping point of success from which there was no return — no conservative could ever win another presidential election. With each passing year, the population was getting younger, more radical, more brainwashed, etc. (Midterm/off-year elections are a somewhat different story, as regional conservative outposts could still elect local representatives — but on a national scale, they were greatly outnumbered by burgeoning young generations of leftists.)

The results of these decades of indoctrination was plainly visible in the college students of today, who are all so left-wing by default that they consider standard Marxism too old-fashioned and conservative. Taking this into consideration, and remembering that the adults of today were the radical students of the recent past, it had seemed that these decades of indoctrination had been resoundingly successful, and that the U.S. electorate had swung wildly to the left, never to swing back, just as the Gramscian brainwashers had been planning and implementing for the last 50 or more years.

Ooops

And then November 8, 2016 happened, and BOOM: It was all revealed to be a lie. Not only did the indoctrination fail, but the general impression that the relentless indoctrination had always been successful was itself a gigantic meta-deception.

All the chatter and statistics and talk show “experts” proclaiming that America had forever swung Democratic? ALL LIES.

All the slanted polls, which were intended to convince everyone that Hillary was inevitable? ALL LIES.

The derision of Trump as a ludicrous fringe candidate and his supporters as wild-eyed extremists? ALL LIES.

And it’s not just that they were all lies — they were lies that had no effect. Somehow, without anyone noticing, a majority of the American populace had evolved a new immunity to progressive disinformation.

It doesn’t even matter what Trump’s actual political beliefs are or what his policies will be. All that matters is that he was the media’s Designated Enemy and yet he won.

This election didn’t merely expose the failure of six months of campaigning by the Democratic Party. This election exposed the failure of SIX DECADES of leftist propaganda to have any cumulative effect at all.

And the earthquake extends deep into the future as well. Thanks to Trump’s history-shattering victory, we now know that the Gramscian model and the Frankfurt School model don’t work. Every single thing the Left has done since the 1950s has been catastrophically wrongheaded and misconceived. It has all backfired. Which means that going into future, when they will (as they surely will) continue their failed strategy on autopilot, it will all be for naught. Why? Because these techniques only work if the victims don’t know they’re being propagandized. Yet the public in recent years has become much more sophisticated. Now we do know. And we can never un-know, once our eyes have been opened.

The Left has to now go back to the drawing board and come up with an entirely new playbook. And once they do, it will surely take decades to implement.

But the best part? The Left doesn’t understand any of this, and they won’t reformulate their playbook. They will stick to the same failed script, as we have already seen just in the last few weeks since the election. Years from now, and likely even decades from now, the Left will still be trying their stealth (and not-so-stealth) propaganda/indoctrination/bullying efforts, and they will continue to fail.

That’s why Trump’s victory is so historically significant: It is a major paradigm shift in the arc of history that completely destroys the leftists’ long-term game plan, past, present and future. To such an extent that now we’re playing an entirely new game with entirely new rules. But the left refuses to acknowledge this, and they will continue to play the old game. So they will lose. And lose. And lose. And lose. Over and over and over again until they too see the futility of the entire leftist worldview.

My latest report deconstructs the so-called “protest” outside Obama’s latest fundraiser:

Protesters greet Obama on S.F.’s Billionaires’ Row

(Cross-posted at PJMedia.)

A sampling, to whet your appetite:




It all culminated in this one sign, which of all the signs at the protest disturbed me the most. Yes, Obama really did say “Show me the movement. Make me do it.” (At least according to Michael Pollan, who quoted Obama while speaking at an environmental event in 2009.) In fact, a more extended quote from that speech might explain the motivation behind this entire protest:

Now, this agenda that I’m talking about, your own agenda, is not gonna happen just because we have a President and a First Lady who are sympathetic. That’s not how change comes. Change is much, much harder than that. Presidents cannot flip the switch and make things happen…. A friend of mine had occasion to have dinner with him and Michelle, and Obama made it clear that he got it, that he really did understand the issue, but he also said he didn’t think the time was right to push hard. He understood the forces arrayed on the other side and the great amount of political capital it would take to defeat them. … He challenged my friend, he said, “Show me the movement. Make me do it. Make me do it.”

…Now, that language, that language, “Make me do it,” is very interesting. Presidents have uttered that word – those words before. Roosevelt used them when he was being lobbied about certain issues. There’s a very interesting scene when Martin Luther King came to Lyndon Johnson and said, “We need this Voting Rights Act. You know, we need your help,” and Johnson turned to him and said, “I wanna do it. Make me do it.” He wasn’t just gonna do it. He needed to be made. He was telling Martin Luther King to get out in the street and make it happen.

Another example, President Clinton in 1993, he had a very difficult budget negotiation in Congress. He lost a lot. He moved way to the right and gave up a lot of his campaign promises to get this 1993, his first budget. And, at the signing of this budget, Bernie Sanders, the member of his caucus furthest to his left was there, and he came over to Bernie Sanders and he started pounding on his chest like this and he said, “Why weren’t you screaming at me? I needed you to be screaming at me, because then I could have brought you something.” So, as kindly as you feel towards Michelle and Barack, keep those lessons in mind.

Vilsack said something similar to a group of activists he met with just last month, “I need your help. Build a movement.” And he understands. Because the farm lobby is already organizing against him. So, we need to get organized. We need to flex our muscles. …

Now is not the time to savor the moment or rest. Now is the time to make Obama do it. Let’s show him the movement.

This explains how people who voted for Obama can be out in the street seemingly to protest “against” him. Turns out this whole protest was nothing more play-acting for the cameras, a group of faux protesters colluding with Obama to create a Potemkin “movement” which he can then cite as justification for making an unpopular decision he already wanted to make anyway. “I had no choice — there’s a mass movement against this pipeline! I must bow to the will of the people.”

The more I thought about this sign and its implications, the more disturbed I became. This explains not just today’s anti-Keystone pipeline protest, but also much of what has gone on in politics since 2008. It explains the media’s otherwise inexplicable glorification and attempted legitimization of the Occupy Wall Street movement; it explains the media’s desperate demonization of the Tea Party (so as to prevent the impression that it was a mass movement); it explains all sorts of outrages and protests and petitions and marches by the American far-left “against” a president whose agenda is identical to theirs. Every time the left erupted over some issue, I used to wonder, “Why are you complaining to Obama? He agrees with you!” Turns out that of course they all know full well that he agrees with them, that he and they are all on the same side. The purpose is not to change Obama’s mind, the purpose is to provide him with political cover to make bad or unpopular decisions, by fabricating hollow “popular uprisings” which he can then point to as indicative of overall public opinion.

My speculations were confirmed the following day when I read the only report of what was said inside the fundraisers, as quoted by the only “pool reporter” allowed into the events:

Steyer, who is a vociferous opponent of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and a strong supporter of climate-change legislation, appeared to try to ease concerns that Obama wouldn’t keep the issue at the top of his agenda, as he has promised.

He is doing everything he can on the issues that we care about,” Steyer told the group in his home. “He has political limitations…so we really have an obligation to help him.”

Obama for his part, addressed climate change repeatedly in his remarks, which lasted 19 minutes, but never specifically mentioned the pipeline.

So it was just as I suspected: The protesters and Obama and his billionaire backers are all enmeshed, working in conjunction to achieve specific political goals — goals that would otherwise be unpopular with the general public. I realized that we out on the street were not protesting against the president’s agenda: We were part of the president’s agenda.

Back in August, 2008, I travelled to Denver to cover the Democratic National Convention (at which Barack Obama was nominated). I produced and published many well-received and newsworthy reports of the convention…but for various reasons, none of those reports ever appeared at zombietime. In fact, they’ve never even been mentioned or linked on the main zombietime page.

Until now.

Although it’s about four and a half years after the fact, I’ve finally gotten around to compiling in one place a thorough list of all the reports I made in Denver in 2008. I’m posting links to them all here in one place for the first time, and I’ll link to this post from the main zombietime page, finally filling in the last missing section of what is supposed to be the “complete list” of zombie reports.

I hereby present:

All zombie reports from the Democratic National Convention, Denver, August 25-28, 2008


Live from DNC: It’s Zombietime! (Day 1) (August 25, 2008)

Live from DNC: It’s Zombietime! (Day 2) (August 26, 2008)

Live from DNC: Zombie Knee-Deep in Convention Chaos (August 27, 2008)

Zombie Witnesses a 9/11 Truth March at the DNC (Updated) (August 29, 2008)

Zombie’s Anatomy of a Video: Fabricating Police Brutality (August 31, 2008)

Zombie’s DNC Protest Roundup: 1968 Recreated? (September 2, 2008)

The Denver Games – Opening Ceremony (Aug 25, 2008)

Prisoners’ Rights “Recreate 68” Protest – Mini Report (Aug 25, 2008)

Update: Riot in Denver City Center (Aug 25, 2008)

Liveblogging from the Kos Tent with Dan Rather (Aug 26, 2008)

The Mosque in Denver’s Civic Center (Aug 26, 2008)

Biden to Boxer and Beyond – Celebrity-Hopping Convention Style (Aug 27, 2008)

Pro-Hillary March (Aug 27, 2008)

Scenes from a Convention (Aug 27, 2008)

The Democratic Convention Giant Puppet Parade (Aug 28, 2008)

I Went to Invesco and All I Got Was This Lousy Report (Aug 28, 2008)

9/11 Truth March at the Democratic National Convention (Aug 29, 2008)

Code Pink and Abortion Protesters Fail to Disrupt EMILY’s List Gala with Hillary, Michelle and Nancy (Aug 30, 2008)

Anatomy of a Video – Democratic Convention 2008 (Aug 31, 2008)

Denver – The Final Roundup (Sep 2, 2008)

Occupy Oakland — October 22, 2011

Today we ask the question: Is Occupy Oakland as bad as they say?

Find out for yourself in my latest report:

OCCUPY OAKLAND: Encampment, Rally and March, October 22, 2011

(Cross-posted at PajamasMedia.)

Sample photo, to pique your interest:

Remember Lovelle Mixon, the serial rapist, child molester and murderer who single-handedly committed one of the worst mass killings of police officers in American history? Yeah, that guy. Well, the anti-police sentiment at Occupy Oakland is so intense that they regard Lovelle Mixon as a hero!! Whatever other crimes he may have committed, if he offed some pigs, then all is forgiven. Fuck the Po-lice! Power to the people!

The presidency of Barack Obama is a cargo cult. And Obama himself is the new John Frum.

But unlike traditional cargo cults, which persist despite decades of fruitless prophecies, the Barry O cult is disintegrating before our very eyes, as Hope and Change Airport — built entirely out of hollow bamboo and even hollower promises — has failed to attract the predicted heaven-sent magical prosperity.

John Frum, He Come

The title of this essay is a riff on John Frum, He Come, a now-classic book of popular anthropology which introduced the American public to the bizarre world of cargo cults in the South Pacific, especially on a small island called Tanna in what is now Vanuatu.

Shortly before WWII, a strange belief emerged on Tanna that a magically powerful American soldier appeared on the island bearing wondrous “cargo” — manufactured Western goods and packaged food, which he handed out as gifts. He called himself “John Frum,” but, after advising the villagers to return to their traditional rituals and customs, he just as quickly disappeared.

Some villagers did what John Frum recommended and began to engage in rituals, summoning him back with more of his amazing cargo. Lo and behold, it worked! Because shortly afterward, thousands of more Americans appeared — soldiers and sailors and Marines passing through on their way to defeat the Japanese, as it turned out — bearing more cargo than the Tannans could even imagine. But just like the original John Frum, the Americans quickly disappeared once more, taking their cargo with them, and once again leaving the island in poverty.

And ever since then, Tanna’s islanders have been waiting, waiting, waiting for John Frum to return with his cargo. They invoke him with dances, they sing hymns to him, they fashion simulations of American military outfits and march back and forth, and even build airport control towers out of bamboo and clear runways in the middle of nowhere, thinking that the existence of a simulated bamboo airport will somehow supernaturally induce the arrival of a cargo-laden plane.

Still, no John Frum. Yet with infinite patience, the islanders wait.

This two-minute kitschy clip from an old TV documentary gives a good view of a cargo cult airport and shows apparently authentic footage of cultists waiting for the cargo to arrive:

This second short clip from a different documentary crosses the line from “kitschy” to “condescending,” but nonetheless gives a good overview of how cargo cults originated, even if the islanders in this particular scene are more consciously acting for the camera:

The mysterious origins of cargo

The American military has repeatedly confirmed from WWII until now that no one named John Frum was ever in the Armed Forces, and researchers have similarly failed to turn up any American civilian ever named John Frum either. Of course, some anthropologists, in an a-HA! moment, realized that the original visitor must have said, “Hi, I’m John from America,” which the Tannans must have assumed was his full name — John Frum, America.

What fascinates us about the John Frum movement and cargo cults in general is that the cultists had no idea where “cargo” comes from, and assumed it must be created magically and sent by spirits or deities. They had no conception what the world was like outside their island, or that there even was a world outside their island.

So, instead of figuring out how to generate cargo — or wealth in our terminology — themselves, the Tannans wait for a messianic figure to arrive and rain riches down upon them as a reward for their piety.

This, at the risk of overstating the obvious, is the exact attitude of Obama’s fan and voters — at least in 2008 and 2009.

If you want what I have, then do as I do

One little-discussed aspect of cargo cults is that they are usually made up of two separate, mutually contradictory drives. On one hand, the movements are now thought to be a reaction against the introduction of Western and Christian values to the islands — in particular work-for-work’s-sake, worshipping a non-materialist god, long-term planning, and so forth. But at the same time, the cultists want all the great stuff that the Westerners brought with them in addition to the strange cultural rules. But the islanders never seemed to grasp that the two are inherently connected: Westerners were able to create all that wonderful cargo because of their cultural attitudes. If you reject the culture of these fabulously wealthy foreigners, then you’ll never get what the foreigners have. Which is fine — nothing wrong with being anti-materialist. But if you insist on craving material goods, you’ll need to adopt the kind of culture that will enable its creation, as historians and sociologists have been pointing out for centuries. The technological advances of civilizations, from China to Mesopotamia to Europe, were derived from cultural and religious patterns which encouraged work, accumulation of knowledge, individual betterment, and so on. Those areas of the globe which had different social structures — such as the South Pacific — never made most of the technological breakthroughs achieved elsewhere, because of a different way of approaching the world.

Now, one can argue over whether our materialistic/technological society has been a good thing for humanity after all. But if you side with the non-materialists, then you can’t expect to reap the benefits of Western technology while at the same time rejecting the effort and the philosophy behind it.

“We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For”

Consider this description of John Frum, and note the many similarities to our cultural perception of Obama:

John Frum is the son of God, but he’s not Jesus. He’s a black Melanesian, but sometimes a white man – or, according to others, a black American GI. He’s a kastom messiah, come to turn the people of Tanna back to their old ways before the missionaries – but he’s also a universal avatar of change, a successor to Buddha or Jesus or Mohammed.

The messianic nature of Obama-worship has been noted ever since he first appeared on the political stage, and which reached its climax at his inauguration in January 2009, with Obama even topping Jesus as our nation’s favorite hero, in a poll taken shortly after he assumed office.

But while Obama may have been perceived as a messiah, there were simply too many differences between Obama-ism and Christianity for there to be a direct comparison between him and Jesus. So that parallel was set aside as being a bit too awkward. Yet analysts forgot: Jesus isn’t the only messiah, fictional or real, in human consciousness. There have been plenty of others, most of which are now forgotten. But of them all, the one messiah closest to Obama is John Frum, because the essence of the John Frum cult revolves around waiting for the messiah to arrive and shower believers with unearned wealth. Sound familiar?

One of Obama’s most potent campaign slogans was “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” While many have since noted the not-so-hidden narcissistic megalomania encoded in the slogan — Obama was asking us to vote for him, after all, not for ourselves, so by “We are the ones” he really meant “I am the one” — but it was the second half of the sentence which disturbed me even more. “Waiting for”? The implication is that Americans have been pining for a messiah to rescue them, as if that was our default position. Waiting. Waiting.

I saw this as vaguely insulting, because plenty of Americans haven’t been waiting for anyone to do anything — we’ve gotten on with our lives, under our own steam. But then it hit me: a certain percentage of Americans — 52.9%, as it turned out — were indeed passively waiting for someone to come along and make things better, and by “make things better” they meant give me more stuff (“stuff” being the American translation for “cargo”). And that someone wasn’t John Frum — it was Barack Obama.

Give us some good tok-tok

In Paul Theroux’s classic travelogue The Happy Isles of Oceania, he reprints the lyrics of a John Frum hymn he hears while in Vanuatu:

John Frum
He mus come
Look at old fellas
Give us some big presents
Give us some good tok-tok

The last line is relevant to our current discussion — because as important as the presents (cargo) is “tok-tok” (talking), or making eloquent grandiose speeches. The Tannans seek the warm fuzzy reassurance of some good “tok-tok” from John Frum, just as much as they seek actual physical cargo. In quite exactly the same fashion, in 2008 and early 2009 many Americans practically derived nutritional sustenance not from any actual legislation coming from Obama but simply from the grandiose promises of his speeches. The words themselves were in part the fulfillment of the promise.

But words can only take you so far as a messiah. Eventually, you’re going to have to produce some cargo. And for Obama, that’s where things started to fall apart. Because we Americans are not quite as naive as the islanders in the John Frum cult. Obama did indeed start showering America with cargo — free wealth in the form of bailouts, stimulus packages, more food stamps and welfare, free health care, and so on. But unlike the Tannans who didn’t question where all this stuff might be coming from, Americans dared to peek behind the curtain, and discovered to our horror that the cargo Obama was doling out didn’t come from heaven, it came from . . . us! We certainly were the ones we had been waiting for, but not quite in the way we envisioned. Obama was smashing open our piggy banks and our grandkids’ piggy banks, then making a big show out of handing us back our own money (minus expenses, of course), as if it was cargo from on high.

Collapse

Over the last three months there have been countless essays dissecting the complete disintegration of Obama-worship in this country, culminating in a poll this week showing that Obama has now hit his lowest approval rating ever.

The fantasy has collapsed, and the Barry O cult collapsed with it.

Why? Because those of us who are paying attention realize that we’re not getting cargo after all; we’re getting ripped off. It’s as if the original cargo cultists one day walked to the far end of their own island to discover that John Frum was mining gold out of their own land and using their stolen gold to buy presents for his followers.

Big government as cargo cult

To extend the comparison to its logical conclusion: All of “big-government liberalism” ultimately rests on the same type of cargo-cult thinking. Most Americans have only the vaguest notion of how the federal government functions; even I, somewhat of a political junkie, am overwhelmed by the size and complexity of the government, and can’t even begin to keep track of its innumerable expenditures and entitlement programs. But at least I understand where the federal government’s seemingly infinite supply of money comes from — taxes paid by me and people like me. To paraphrase Obama: “We are the gold mine that’s paying for everything.” Yet even that pedestrian “detail” seems lost on many Americans, especially those who view the government as a magical candy machine which dispenses free benefits. People who pay little or no taxes voted for Obama in overwhelming numbers, while the taxpaying middle class as a group gave him the fewest votes of any income group. This supports the stereotype that Obama voters, in general, are the recipients of entitlement payments and government largesse, while the Tea Party/anti-Obama activists are the ones footing the bill for that largesse. We, the politically engaged class that writes and reads political Web sites, are keenly aware of the whole struggle over the federal budget. But a distressingly large proportion of Americans don’t know and don’t care about what goes on behind the scenes: to the extent that they think about the government, they see it as a source of free money — or cargo, as it were.

What happened between mid-2008 and the end of 2010 is that the number of Americans who realized that the cargo cult of Barack Obama was a hoax finally passed the tipping point.

On November 2, The Barry O movement will cease to exist. A sad day for political anthropologists, but an immense relief to the taxpayers funding the massive cargo-drops of Obama’s presidency.

The New Free Speech Movement

Today is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, a completely made-up satirical “holiday” dedicated to the concept of drawing Mohammed cartoons, as a way of making a statement about freedom of speech.

Not everyone agrees with this idea, however. And I’m not just talking about the expected naysayers — that is, fundamentalist Muslims (who demand that no one be allowed to depict their prophet) and progressive multiculturalists (who run interference for fundamentalist Muslims by insisting that we all obey Islamic demands or risk being branded as racists).

No, even some level-headed conservative-leaning pundits have begun to cast aspersions on this whole Mohammed cartoon thing. Most notable among them is J.E. Dyer, whose recent article posted at HotAir entitled “Provocation isn’t the highest form of free speech” made the argument that mocking Mohammed is basically pointless “provocation” and that, although provocative speech is protected, it is the embarrassing stepchild of the noble, high-toned political speech imagined by our forefathers, and as such should be avoided lest we come off as brutes and rubes. To quote the key passage of Dyer’s thesis,

The right to offend others is something that gets a pass because of the good that comes from the better, higher, more important right to make our own philosophical decisions. The right to be deliberately offensive is a parasite, not a first principle.

I disagree. Strongly. And I’ll tell you why.

Who Decides What Is Provocative?

Protesters in Pakistan yesterday, angry about the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day Facebook page

This is not an argument over the right to be “provocative” or “offensive”; rather, is it something much more significant — an argument over who gets to determine what counts as provocative or offensive in the first place. The Western world dragged itself out of the church-dominated Dark Ages and into the Enlightenment in part over this precise issue: the freedom to engage in speech and actions which formerly had been classified as the crime known as “blasphemy.” It seems such a trivial and quaint issue in retrospect, and hardly worthy of note from our hyper-secularized 21st-century perspective, but tell that to the millions of people who for centuries lived under the yoke of governments which used accusations of blasphemy and other religious misbehaviors as a primary tool of tyranny and oppression. The modern world dawned with the American and French Revolutions and the emergence of the explicitly secular state — the Americans rejecting the Church of England as Britain’s legally enforced national religion, and the French shrugging off centuries of acquiescence to domination by the Catholic Church in civil affairs. In both cases, new governmental paradigms were established in which there was an inviolable separation of church and state, which in practice meant no civil laws enforcing religious doctrines and (most importantly for our discussion) no laws against blasphemy.

The original “Draw Winky” ad from a 1971 comic book

We’re now so accustomed to this liberated society that we have all but forgotten how horrible it was in the Bad Old Days before our Founding Fathers (wipes away tear) created a safe haven for the human mind, a place called the United States of America. The laws and punishments of the Puritans and of the Spanish Inquisition and all the rest were decisively and emphatically swept off the table and replaced with a simple principle: personal freedom. Freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, and freedom of speech.

Everybody Expects the Islamic Inquisition

Well, the Spanish Inquisition may be a distant memory now relegated to Monty Python skits, but the self-appointed Islamic Inquisition is threatening to take its place. Remember that the Spanish Inquisition (and the much larger papal inquisition which preceded it) existed for the purpose of enforcing religious dictates on the general populace, including and especially religious crimes such as heresy, blasphemy, and apostasy. Punishment for these deeds could be severe and often as not included torture or execution. This is exactly what the Islamic fundamentalists want to impose on us in the 21st century: Obedience to religious dictates, enforced where necessary by violence.

Luckily, outside of a few Middle Eastern countries, the Islamists do not have the power to enforce their hellish vision of society. But that doesn’t stop them from trying. Where they can’t impose their religious rules by force, they try to impose them by fear and intimidation. Since we have our freedoms permanently etched into our Constitution, the Islamists are going to have little luck getting blasphemy laws passed in the U.S. Yet they can achieve the same result if they can use terror to bring about our own self-censorship. Which is exactly what they have set about doing, the most recent round starting with the murder of Theo Van Gogh in 2004 and reaching the boiling point with the Danish Cartoon Controversy in 2006. The pot hasn’t stopped boiling since. The Islamists’ strategy is to kill, or threaten to kill, anyone who gets media attention for “disrespecting” Islam or Mohammed — thereby convincing the rest of us infidels to remain silent if we know what’s good for us.

   Updated 2010 version of “Draw Winky” (parody by buzzsawmonkey)

And here we come to the crux of the matter. Which side in this conflict gets to determine what counts as “disrespectful” (a contemporary euphemism for “blasphemous”)? In the jihadists’ view, any depiction of Mohammed — even a positive or honorific depiction — is deemed blasphemous. It’s our religion, they say, so we get to say what’s offensive. Yet if we grant them this inch, they’ll take another inch (it’s also disrespectful to write Mohammed’s name without a worshipful “PBUH” after it), and another inch (it’s disrespectful to criticize Islam in any way), and before long it’s the whole mile, and we once again will be living in an intellectual Middle Ages in which religious tyrants dictate our every thought and action.

So you can see the urge of every sane-minded Westerner to say a hearty Fuck you! to anyone who tries to erode away the bedrock of our free society. The more insistent (and violent) these attempts at erosion, the less civil the resistance will become. Which is exactly as it should be. If the Islamists want us to to stop mocking (or even questioning) Mohammed, they can achieve this goal quite simply: Just go away and leave us alone. Don’t bother us, and we won’t bother you. Seriously, 99% of non-Muslims don’t give a good goddamn about Mohammed one way or the other, and we’d gladly ignore him and his followers until the end of time – if they’d just stop trying to boss us around. But if someone comes to our safe haven and tries to impose a repressive or restrictive rule on us, then that is the exact rule we’re going to flout until the interlopers learn their lesson: We don’t take kindly to bullshit medieval religious oppression in these parts.

And so we return to J.E. Dyer’s essay, where she essentially argues that freedom of speech is simply the vehicle through which we can express our political ideals without fear of reprisal. While that may be true, it leaves out the final piece of the puzzle: Freedom of speech itself is our highest political ideal. We need freedom of speech not merely so we can discuss Aristotle and the Teapot Dome Scandal and non-proliferation treaties, but more importantly we need freedom of speech so we can defend the unconditional right of freedom to speak — or think, or draw, for that matter. As soon as someone comes along and says (as Dyer does) that some forms of speech are “better” or “higher” than others, the implication is that the the low-class expressions are somehow less worthy of defending. But that way lies the road to ruin. We would soon begin to slide down what I call Niemöller’s Slippery Slope, which in this instance would begin, “First they came for the cartoonists….”

It is precisely the most offensive speech which needs to be defended, because that is the only speech which ever gets challenged in the first place. If we cave in on this seemingly trivial issue, we have already lost.

Mario Savio in 1964 helped launch the Free Speech Movement into national consciousness by climbing atop a police car at U.C. Berkeley and denouncing campus rules which prohibited political speech

The New Free Speech Movement

And it is often on the most trivial of points that history pivots. Take, for example, the original Free Speech Movement of the mid-1960s, which was the fuse that ignited the social transformations in the second half of that decade. At first, the initial dispute was over something as ridiculous as which student groups were allowed to have a literature table on U.C. Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, and whether or not the sidewalk bordering the campus counted as university property (where leafletting would be banned) or city property (where it would be allowed). Hardly something worth getting worked up over. But the students pressed the issue, and pressed, and eventually an utterly trivial local dispute became a not-so-trivial local dispute, and when the University caved in, it opened the floodgates to student activism and social upheaval first at Berkeley and eventually across the nation (and world, for that matter).

I posit that this cartoon fiasco may look as trivial now as did the silly Berkeley sidewalk dispute back in 1964, but it could very well morph into a new Free Speech Movement which could affect the course of history just as much as did the first one.

The Mohammed cartoons — whether they appear in a Danish newspaper, on South Park, on Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, or anywhere else, are basically our way of saying, Bring it on. They are an intentional goading to accelerate the inevitable clash of civilizations: totalitarianism vs. democracy, religion vs. secularism, repression vs. freedom, Islam vs. the liberal West — choose your definitions. It’s coming, whether we like it or not. And it’s quite apparent to the Mohammed cartoonists and their supporters that, currently, Team Islam does not have the tools to win. Philosophically, militarily, financially, analytically, morally and in just about every other way they have a losing hand. But the crazy part is, they don’t seem to realize it quite yet. So, from a strategic standpoint, if your opponent is overconfident and bound to lose yet still itching for a fight, it’s best to let him engage now and get defeated, than wait for some future day of conflict where the outcome may be in doubt.

Islamic extremists still seem to think that banning Facebook or threatening to kill the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day organizers will somehow make the problem of blasphemy go away. They don’t yet understand that we in the West have spent the last 600 years not merely earning the right to be blasphemous, but more importantly creating a society and a worldview in which there is no such thing as blasphemy, because all forms of speech are permitted and religious bullies no longer get to determine what is forbidden.

Now get out your pencils and start drawing.


UPDATE

Over the last few hours I’ve received an avalanche of Mohammed cartoon submissions in response to the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day “contest.” And even though it isn’t a real contest (and even if it was a competition I am not the organizer nor any kind of “judge”), I did just receive a submission which stands out as far and away the most eye-catching of the bunch. If I was a judge, this Mohammed cartoon, by an anonymous artist who wishes to go by the name “Tad Pole,” is currently my favorite to be deemed the “winner” of today’s Draw Mohammed contest:

One of the most bizarre groups in California’s political galaxy goes by the name of Q.U.I.T. — Queers Undermining Israeli Terror — also known sometimes simply as Queers for Palestine.

QUIT tags along and makes regular appearances at the various omnibus anti-war and anti-Israel rallies around the Bay Area; they almost never organize protests on their own. But yesterday, April 8, was one of those rare days in which there was a protest organized by and exclusively attended by QUIT.

The focus of their anger this time around was the “Out in Israel” film festival at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater, which is “a special showcase of new, recent and classic films from Israel exploring lesbian and gay life, imagery and stories.” The film festival is itself part of the larger overall Out in Israel LGBT Culture Festival, which celebrates all things gay in Israel.

Now, one would think that there would be nothing controversial in the slightest about a pro-gay festival in San Francisco. So I was mystified as to what exactly QUIT — itself purportedly a gay rights group — could possibly find so offensive about a pro-gay-rights festival as to merit a full-blown street protest. Out of curiosity, I decided to check it out, and to sincerely try to comprehend and present to the public their point of view.

QUIT did not go unopposed. Local pro-Israel groups San Francisco Voice for Israel (SFV4I) and Stand With Us got wind of the QUIT protest and quickly put together a counter-protest to bring a dose of sanity to the proceedings.


Here’s an overall shot of the protest, showing QUIT’s pink banner on the right, and a crowd in front of the Roxie Theater on the left. (Apologies for the extremely poor quality of these protest photos — they were taken by someone with a low-resolution cell-phone camera.)


“No Pride in Apartheid; Boycott/Divest From Israel” reads QUIT’s banner.

Now, I’ve written about QUIT before, pointing out their suicidal cognitive dissonance in supporting a society (Palestine) in which homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, generally under penalty of death. What I wrote back then (nearly five years ago) remains true; this paragraph bears repeating:

“In fact, the cognitive dissonance of Queers for Palestine — marching in support of those who would kill you if they were given the opportunity — only serves to illuminate the cognitive dissonance of the entire “anti-war movement.” Because the goal of the “War on Terror” is to protect the liberal, free, egalitarian democratic society that we all cherish from the forces of oppression, totalitarianism and religious fundamentalism. Yet the anti-war crowd strives to compel the very soldiers who are defending them to lay down their arms, as if the battle would suddenly cease if one army were to stop fighting. So the anti-war crowd must ignore the evidence that one side is fighting to impose the harshest form of religious conservatism not just on their own countries but on the entire world given half a chance, whereas the other side (our side) is fighting to preserve a progressive civilization. That’s right, folks — this war’s for you.”

The same principle applies to the Israel/Palestine conflict, which is a microcosm of the wider Islam-vs.-the-West “Clash of Civilizations.”


The narrow sidewalk in front of the Roxie was completely blocked with QUIT protesters and SFV4I counter-protesters.


I checked QUIT’s Web site to see if they had anything about this event, but the site is updated so infrequently I found no mention of it. Even so, at the protest itself I was lucky enough to nab a copy of QUIT’s manifesto explaining their rationale behind the protest. Click on the image above or here to view a larger, more readable version.

Our vocabulary word for the day is “pinkwashing,” QUIT’s clever twist on the notion of “greenwashing,” which itself is of course a twist on “whitewashing.” “Greenwashing” describes the PR campaigns of corporations which try to cover up their environment-unfriendly policies with a veneer of supposedly “green” initiatives. “Pinkwashing” apparently means to use the PR-boosting power of being gay-friendly to cover up one’s other flaws. (Unfortunately for QUIT, the term “pinkwashing” has already been reserved by breast-cancer awareness groups to refer to companies that abuse the “pink ribbon” cancer awareness logo to boost sales.)

QUIT is accusing Israel of “pinkwashing” its treatment of Palestinians by promoting how gay-friendly the nation is while sweeping under the rug its “apartheid policies” toward Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. I invite you to read QUIT’s manifesto above and try to wrap your mind around their point of view — which may not be an easy task. Note how QUIT in no way disputes the fact that Israel is queer-friendly; nor do they dispute the fact that gays in Palestine generally face immediate execution (by mob violence, government dictate, or even at the hands of their own families) if ever found out. Mostly, QUIT conveniently fails to mention what happens to gays in Palestine, but to the extent that they do mention it, they lay the blame on Israel. QUIT’s “logic” goes like this: Israel has the Palestinians trapped like rats in a cage, and it is this desperate social condition which causes Palestinian society to become so twisted that it oppresses its own people; furthermore, by closing the borders, Israel prevents gay Palestinians from fleeing the horrors of Palestine for the freedom of . . . Israel.

Dizzy yet?

Of course, my analysis is this: The members of QUIT are in a “hipper-than-thou” arms race with other far-left radicals, and realized that if they want to be at the forefront of leftist political activism, they absolutely need to be anti-Israel and pro-Palestine, as that has become a defining feature of far-left ideologies. But as a gay rights group, QUIT was confronted by the deeply unfortunate fact that gays are safe, free and happy in Israel, while being oppressed, closeted and/or dead in Palestine. Other far-left groups coped with this problematic political conundrum by studiously ignoring the whole issue, thus obviating the need to resolve it. QUIT, on the other hand, uniquely has attempted to address the issue head on. Yet in order to somehow justify being pro-Palestine while at the same time supporting gay rights, QUIT necessarily needed to engage in the most ludicrous philosophical gymnastics in order to find some way to reconcile two irreconcilable positions.

But the end result is worse than QUIT could have imagined, because when all is said and done, they are promoting a society in which gays are simply not allowed to exist, and end up championing the grotesquely oppressive Arab/Islamic social order.

If QUIT truly cared about the rights of gays in Palestine and the Middle East, they would celebrate the treatment of gays in Israel and point to it as a model for other Middle Eastern countries to emulate. Instead of fighting for Arab self-rule in Palestinian territories — which would inevitably lead to a complete extirpation of all gay rights if not all gay people — QUIT should take the position that Israel should administer the Palestinian territories, because only under Israeli rule could gay Palestinians have any chance of survival. And instead of advocating that Palestinians continue their violent confrontational stance against Israel, QUIT should absolutely insist on Palestinian non-violence, which would allow the endless Intifada to fade away, quell all terror incidents, and allow Israel to once again open the border to Palestinian day workers and immigrants — and allow gay Palestinians to escape to the freedom of Israeli society.

But no. QUIT does the exact opposite of all those things. Which makes them among the most mystifying, and in some ways, the most loathsome of all leftist protest groups.


At the rally was a pro-Israel protester waving an Israeli gay pride flag in front of a brutally direct sign which takes the notion of “gallows humor” literally: Under the words “Gaza LGBT Center” are drawings of gay Palestinians lynched by Gaza’s theocratic rulers, Hamas.


Right next door to that sign were members of QUIT displaying their narrative: “Former Palestinian Village Open for Settlement: Jews Only — Queer Friendly.”


Here’s one thing I can say in QUIT’s favor: Unlike many other Bay Area protest groups, they are non-aggressive and non-confrontational. Mostly, they just stand there holding signs without getting into interpersonal conflicts. That’s how, as in this picture, protesters from two opposing camps can stand elbow-to-elbow and yet both remain all smiles, despite having diametrically opposed political views.


One of the SFV4I protesters held a sign riffing on the possible derivation of the acronym “Q.U.I.T.”


Another (again, sorry for the blurry photos) pointed out that Israel has a Gay Pride Parade — something that would be unthinkable in most Islamic countries. I think Dan Kliman — the Oakland doctor who for years was at the forefront of the Bay Area’s pro-Israel gay rights activism and who died over a year ago under somewhat mysterious circumstances — would concur.


Right around the corner from the Roxie, just steps from the protest, I noticed this casual bit of anti-Semitic graffiti on the window of a check-cashing business — unnoticed by all the protesters and counter-protesters. Someone had written the word “Jewish” on a roll of money pointing to the word “tax,” which is apparently either a reference to the old “Jews are money-grubbing” stereotype; or is a reference to the “Jewish Tax or “Kosher Tax,” an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that has been voiced at earlier SF anti-Israel protests; or, more simply, is a way of identifying Jewish-owned businesses for the next Kristallnacht.

New essay at Pajamas Media:

Anti-Bush Truther shoots up Pentagon; Should we play the political blame game?

On Thursday, a “9/11 Truth” fanatic named John Patrick Bedell started shooting at the Pentagon and managed to wound two guards before they mercifully put him out of our misery.

We now know that the guy thought the government and the Bush family were behind the 9/11 attacks (or “demolitions” as he called them), and was basically frothing at the mouth with Bush hatred.

Now, I’ve been to innumerable “Truther” rallies over the last 8 years, and can say with some confidence that about 98% of folks who think 9/11 was a hoax are left-wingers, or at the very least fit in very comfortably in the left-wing milieu, since the impetus behind Truthism is to undermine the basis for Bush’s “War on Terror,” an impetus which is also a cornerstone of modern Leftist thought as well.

So far, however, I’ve noticed a deafening quietude on the left-leaning blogs about this guy’s affiliations and belief systems. Those brave enough to troll leftist comments sections have noted mumblings therein that the guy was probably a secret “teabagger,” despite all evidence to the contrary. …

Read the rest here before you jump to any conclusions!

[Note: After zomblog’s previous post about Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings’ misguided praise of NAMBLA supporter Harry Hay, the advocacy group Media Matters has attempted to extinguish the story, issuing a series of press releases dismissing the allegations as “smears.” And so my second memo is addressed directly to Media Matters themselves.]

Media Matters –

You have recently assumed the attack-dog role in the Jennings/Hay/NAMBLA scandal, releasing a nonstop barrage of announcements condemning what you characterize as “right-wing smears.” Before you continue down this road, pause to consider the consequences of this strategy.

The sign Harry Hay carried at the 1986 L.A. Gay Pride Parade (full photo below).

Don’t you understand that your efforts are counter-productive?

Why are you taking actions that will damage Kevin Jennings’ career and get the Obama administration entangled in an embarrassing scandal?

While some of the right-wing posts you cite (which you set up as strawmen to knock down) do indeed go overboard in their criticism of Jennings, that doesn’t mean that all the evidence in this case can be accurately dismissed as “smears.” Because at the core of the scandal, there are some very inconvenient facts which cannot be wished away (see below).

By advising Jennings to dig in his heels on a story that is only bound to grow in intensity, you are only exacerbating the problem. Enough evidence has already emerged (with more to surely emerge in the near future) that you should recognize the need for Jennings and the Obama administration to enter “crisis management mode”: In other words, they should get in front of the story, apologize, acknowledge mistakes, and vow to never repeat them.

Furthermore, your defense of Jennings is so weak, and so easily debunked, that you have now put your own reputation on the line, not just Kevin Jennings’.

But it’s not too late. I invite you, Media Matters, to join me in encouraging Kevin Jennings to make a public statement condemning Harry Hay in no uncertain terms, and to retract his earlier praise of him. Any action short of that — especially denying that the scandal has any substance at all — will only make the crisis grow.

Since almost all of the pro-Obama blogs which have covered this story have entirely relied on Media Matters’ supposed rebuttals as the final conclusive word on this scandal, we should look at your rebuttals more closely; and in so doing, we see that they are much, much flimsier than the accusations they claim to be debunking.

Out of all Media Matters’ bulletins on this scandal, in fact only two have any substance: they are called

Smear: Kevin Jennings Praised A Member Of NAMBLA.”
and
The smear campaign continues: Fox Nation, Washington Examiner manufacture Jennings-NAMBLA link

Stripped of their overheated language, both rebuttals can be summarized with the following four points:

Media Matters’ attempted rebuttals of the Jennings-Hay-NAMBLA scandal: A summary

1. When Kevin Jennings gave his speech praising Harry Hay, he didn’t know that Hay supported NAMBLA.

2. Kevin Jennings was praising the admirable side of Harry Hay, not the reprehensible side of Harry Hay.

3. None of the mainstream media’s obituaries of Harry Hay mentioned his NAMBLA connections, therefore he must not have been a bad guy after all.

4. Harry Hay once said he wasn’t an actual member of NAMBLA.

All of these points are rather feeble arguments and can be easily counter-rebutted. Let’s look at each in turn:


Media Matters’ Attempted Rebuttal #1:

When Kevin Jennings gave his speech praising Harry Hay, he didn’t know that Hay supported NAMBLA.

Assessment: FALSE

As also pointed out on Professor Warren Throckmorton’s blog, Jennings chose a chapter from the 1990 book The Trouble with Harry Hay, by Stuart Timmons, to include in the 1994 anthology Becoming Visible, which Jennings compiled and edited. This means that it is beyond doubt that Jennings had read The Trouble with Harry Hay, since he would have no other way of knowing which chapter to select for republication in his own book. Yet The Trouble with Harry Hay contains a section about Hay’s support of NAMBLA. So by the time Jennings gave his “I was inspired by Harry Hay” speech in 1997, he must have known full well that Hay supported NAMBLA, having learned it from reading the Timmons book (if he hadn’t already known about the connection earlier).

To make this a little clearer, let’s break it down into a timeline:

1990 – Stuart Timmons writes and publishes a biography of Hay called The Trouble with Harry Hay. The book contains a section about Hay’s connection to NAMBLA.

1993/4 – Kevin Jennings reads The Trouble with Harry Hay, in order to choose which chapter about Hay he wants to include in an anthology he’s putting together called Becoming Visible.

1994 – Jennings purposely chooses a section about Hay which doesn’t mention NAMBLA, and republishes it in Becoming Visible.

1994 – Jennings also writes an introduction to the Hay chapter in his book, as well as several study questions about Hay, in both of which he pointedly makes no mention of the NAMBLA connection he learned of from reading The Trouble with Harry Hay.

1997 – Despite his knowledge of Harry Hay’s NAMBLA support, Jennings praises him in a speech in which he said that Hay had “always inspired” him.

The only conclusion one can reach from this is that by 1997 Kevin Jennings knew of Harry Hay’s involvement with NAMBLA — yet praised him anyway.

As mentioned in an update to my earlier memo, Kevin Jennings’ book Becoming Visible — about the history of gay activism, including an entire chapter about Harry Hay — is partly searchable on Amazon: Click here for a link to the Amazon “Peek Inside” feature for the book, and scroll to its table of contents. Or click here or on the small image to the right to see a clear screenshot of the book’s Table of Contents, including the chapter on Harry Hay.

I have scanned several pages from Jennings’ Becoming Visible as proof that a. The book contains a chapter about Harry Hay; b. Kevin Jennings wrote the introduction to that chapter, as well as the study questions about the chapter; and c. The book and the questions are intended for high school students to read. Rather than clog up this essay with a lot of very large images, I will instead link to them here:

Scans from the book Becoming Visible:

Page 162: The first part of Kevin Jennings’ introduction to the Harry Hay chapter.
Page 163: The conclusion of Jennings’ introduction, and the first portion of the Hay chapter itself.
Page 16: Author’s note from Jennings saying he provided the introduction.
Page 17: Jennings saying the study questions are addressed to students for in-class assignments.
Page 178: Jennings’ study questions about Harry Hay.
Page 179: More study questions about Harry Hay.
Page 180: Conclusion of study questions about Harry Hay.

How can you compile and edit a book that includes an extensive chapter about Harry Hay — a chapter for which you wrote the introduction and study questions — and then later claim complete ignorance of Harry Hay’s past? Especially considering that you are known as a leading scholar of the history of gay activism?

And it should be noted that everything Jennings wrote about Harry Hay in this book portrays him in a positive light. In the book, he doesn’t write specifically that Hay inspired him, but it’s obvious if you read the book itself that Jennings is holding up Harry Hay as a role model.

The final link in this chain of evidence is proof that the book The Trouble with Harry Hay did in fact mention Hay’s connection to NAMBLA. Since we know that Kevin Jennings must have read this book in 1993 0r 1994, if we can show that the book discusses Hay’s support of NAMBLA, then it’s beyond any doubt that Jennings knew of it. And we can indeed provide the proof:


First of all, these two photographs were included in the book, showing Harry Hay’s front and back signs at the 1986 Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade. But the photos were not given without context: accompanying text explained in detail how Hay came to NAMBLA’s defense at the parade, something which (according to the book) became famous as “The Harry Hay Incident.” (Valerie Terrigno was a scandal-rocked politician who was also excluded from the parade, as was NAMBLA.)

Here are photos of some relevant pages from The Trouble with Harry Hay, in which the author discusses some of Hay’s connections to NAMBLA:

Photos from the book The Trouble with Harry Hay:

Page 295: Description of “The Harry Hay Incident” and his support of NAMBLA (first part)
Page 296: Description of “The Harry Hay Incident” and his support of NAMBLA (second part)
Photo insert (center of book): Picture (same as the one shown above) of Harry Hay in his “I Walk With NAMBLA” sign, including identifying caption.

Want more? OK.

There’s also strong circumstantial evidence that Jennings almost certainly learned of Hay’s involvement in NAMBLA another way, also in 1994:

According to numerous sources (including for example the Queer Resources Directory and Gay Today; any number of additional links describing the incident can be found on this search results page), Harry Hay got into a very public spat with major mainstream gay organizations over their planned decision to ban NAMBLA from marching in the “Stonewall 25″ pride march in New York on June 26, 1994. Hay, who was slated to be honored as one of the celebrities in the march, instead insisted that NAMBLA be included in the celebration. When Hay was snubbed and NAMBLA was banned despite his objections, Hay broke away from the organizers and formed his own group called Spirit of Stonewall, which then proceeded to march in the parade with NAMBLA anyway — to the great chagrin of the march’s organizers and the larger gay community. This back-and-forth fight between Hay/NAMBLA and the mainstream of gay activists lasted for months and was a major topic of discussion in the gay community, especially among gay political activists living in New York. (Hay also wrote about this incident extensively in his own autobiography, which we will look at later in this memo.)

So: What does any of this have to do with Kevin Jennings? Well, according to his own autobiography, Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son, Kevin Jennings was himself living in New York at the time, and was deeply involved in gay activism and politics. (The passage in question occurs on pages 211, 212, and 213 of the book. Click on the following links to see scans of those pages taken directly from Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son in which Jennings discusses at length his presence and activities in New York in 1994: page 211, page 212, page 213.) Considering that the Hay/NAMBLA spat was a hot topic in Jennings’ professional and personal circles, it seems extremely likely that he at least became aware of it at the time. Which means that a full three years before he gave his speech praising Harry Hay, Jennings again knew of Hay’s defense of NAMBLA.


Media Matters’ Attempted Rebuttal #2:

Kevin Jennings was praising the admirable side of Harry Hay, not the reprehensible side of Harry Hay.

Assessment: ILL-ADVISED BLUNDER

If someone told you they really admired Adolf Hitler, you would naturally assume that they had Nazi sympathies. But if that same person later told you, “No, you misunderstand, I don’t admire Hitler because he was a Nazi: I admire him because of his love for dogs! Boy, that guy sure did love his dogs,” you probably would still harbor suspicions that something was amiss.

I use this rather hackneyed comparison not because I think Harry Hay was like Hitler, but rather because because in our modern hierarchy of moral turpitude the only thing that equals supporting the Nazi Party is promoting pedophilia. And even if you truly did admire Hitler solely for his love of dogs, and not for his other actions, you’d be an absolute fool to walk around praising him to strangers. Because they’d inevitably assume the worst. In a similar vein, if you publicly announce your admiration for someone known to vigorously promote pedophilia — well, what do you expect the public to think? You can’t separate the two halves of Harry Hay and say you were inspired by his good side and make no mention of his bad side. Some beliefs and actions are so beyond the pale that they overwhelm and contaminate anything else the person might have done, and make him off-limits to declarations of admiration.

And this goes straight to the heart of the matter. Even if Kevin Jennings only praised Harry Hay for his earlier activism, it’s still a major public relations blunder. The American public no more wants their Safe Schools Czar to praise a known pedophilia supporter than they want their military commanders to express admiration for Osama bin Laden (“No, really, I meant I was just inspired by the stylish way he trims his beard!”).

And if you think that this is all just a misunderstanding, then why don’t you join me in calling for Kevin Jennings to clarify matters by denouncing Harry Hay and disassociating himself from Harry Hay’s beliefs? Jennings could put a stop to the Hay scandal in a flash if he just took this simple step — which is exactly what I advised in my first memo. Instead, you, Media Matters, have now become part of the problem, because by defending Jennings in his silence, you are only serving to prolong the scandal. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Criticizing and maligning anyone who points out easily verifiable facts only makes it look like Jennings has something to hide.

This whole affair is nothing but a misundertanding? Then let Jennings come out and say so. Don’t encourage him in his career-threatening silence. The longer he remains mute on this issue, the more the public’s uneasiness will grow.

Hay’s support of NAMBLA was only one of many potentially embarrassing aspects to his life and career which led many mainstream gay advocacy groups to distance themselves from him. Among them were the revelation that Hay’s Mattachine Society was based on Stalinist principles and was consciously organized like a communist “cell”; that his later “Radical Faerie” movement — which promoted Native American spirituality as the “correct” religion for all gays — was in fact based on faulty and flawed scholarship; and Hay’s relentless insistence that gay culture was not just equal to “straight” culture but was actually superior.

But above all, Harry Hay famously clashed with mainstream gay groups over his support of NAMBLA. Hay wanted NAMBLA to be included in the “big tent” of gay umbrella organizations; he wanted NAMBLA to be encouraged to march publicly at gay pride events; and he lashed out at gay groups which shunned pedophiles, which Hay saw as surrendering to oppressive mainstream social expectations.

In this battle against Hay were arrayed any number of leading gay rights groups, including ILGA (the International Lesbian/Gay Association, the largest gay rights organization in the world). And yet, just a short time after a major public spat between ILGA and Harry Hay (at the 1994 Stonewall 25 march), Keving Jennings announced in a speech that he was especially inspired by Harry Hay — thereby choosing sides in the conflict and rejecting ILGA’s position (of ostracizing Hay and NAMBLA) and instead embracing Hay and what he stood for.

This was a risky and ill-advised proclamation to make in 1997, and it remains even moreso today. If Kevin Jennings wants to maintain his political viability, he needs to retract his earlier words, and “throw Harry Hay under the bus,” metaphorically speaking. And every ounce of effort that you, Media Matters, spend on trying to defend Jennings’ position only makes the situation worse, day by day.


Media Matters’ Attempted Rebuttal #3:

None of the mainstream media’s obituaries of Harry Hay mentioned his NAMBLA connections, therefore he must not have been a bad guy after all.

Assessment: SPURIOUS ARGUMENT

This is perhaps the most ludicrous of your excuses. Just because mainstream media outlets chose to conveniently ignore a fact and sweep it under the rug doesn’t mean the fact disappears. As I conclusively demonstrated in my previous memo, there’s absolutely no question that Hay was not just a NAMBLA supporter, but that his support of NAMBLA was well-known in New York, so that the omniscient New York Times certainly knew of his affiliation — yet chose to bury the info. They were too busy joining the push to canonize Harry Hay, as were Kevin Jennings and many other activists seeking to construct a new political hero.

But even though the New York Times and other major papers to their eternal shame chose to glorify a NAMBLA supporter, that doesn’t mean all papers joined the conspiracy of silence. For example, an excellent 2002 obituary of Hay in the Boston Phoenix headlined “The Real Harry Hay” chastised mainstream media outlets and gay rights groups for glossing over Hay’s well-known NAMBLA connections. After describing some of Hay’s seriously problematic ideas and actions, including his “notorious promiscuity” and “rabid communism,” the author writes,

“In death, though, Harry Hay’s critics have finally been able to do what they couldn’t do when he was alive: make him presentable. … Neither of the long and laudatory obits in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times mentioned his unyielding support for NAMBLA.”

The author then notes his own observation of Hay once at a party, saying that instead of a legendary champion of civil rights as he had been expecting, Hay

“came across as nothing but a cantankerous old queen who was more interested in speculating about what some of the younger party guests would be like in bed than discussing the connections between 1950s communism and gay-community organizing.”

The mainstream media no longer has a stranglehold on the national dialogue nor on the spigot of truth, and citing their conformity to a particular deception in no way legitimizes that deception.


Media Matters’ Attempted Rebuttal #4:

Harry Hay once said he wasn’t an actual member of NAMBLA.

Assessment: IRRELEVANT

Media Matters, you cite in both of your press releases a statement by Harry Hay printed in the Fall 1994 issue of the Gay Community News in which he says, “I am not a member of NAMBLA.” But whether or not Hay was an official “member” of NAMBLA is completely beside the point, because it’s beyond any doubt that Hay was NAMBLA’s #1 public supporter and advocate, who himself called for the normalization of “man/boy love.” (In fact, it’s not clear that NAMBLA even maintains an official membership list; and if they did, they certainly wouldn’t make it public — so there’s no way to verify Hay’s claim.) With the advent of sophisticated search tools on the Internet, it takes less than a minute for anyone to uncover the extensive connections between NAMBLA and Harry Hay — official member or no official member. The links to NAMBLA pages mentioning Harry Hay which I provided in my earlier report were just the tip of the iceberg. A simple search for Harry Hay’s name on the NAMBLA domain reveals many more examples of articles by or about Hay on the NAMBLA site, in all of which he expresses his approval of intergenerational sex between pubescent boys and older men. So it becomes a futile exercise for you to try to discount or downplay Hay’s defense of pedophilia (or pederasty, to use the precise word), since it can be easily documented.

Above in this memo I linked to a press release written by Harry Hay in 1994 and still preserved at the Queer Resources Directory. It might be a good idea for you to read what Harry Hay actually had to say about NAMBLA before you rush to his defense with a technicality about whether of not he was a dues-paying member. These are Harry Hay’s own words — decide for yourself if Harry Hay was a NAMBLA supporter:

Spirit of Stonewall (SOS) calls on Stonewall 25 and the gay and lesbian movement to return to its roots. The Christopher Street uprising was an outcry by those at the bottom and on the margins of society against puritanical self-righteousness and bigotry. It was a cry for full sexual liberation as part of the struggle for social justice. Stonewall was the spontaneous action of marginal people oppressed by the mainstream — of teenaged drag queens, pederasts, transsexuals, hustlers, and others despised by respectable straights and “discreet” homosexuals. They did not call for their rights, they seized their own freedom. They did not ask for integration into middle-class America, they screamed against its pretensions of propriety.

SOS is an ad hoc committee of lesbian, gay and other individuals and groups formed to bring Stonewall 25 back to the principles of gay liberation. We focus on one of the most glaring departures from those principles: the attempt to exclude the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), and possibly other groups, from the Stonewall 25 March and from their place within gay/lesbian space and discourse.

Red-baiting, scapegoating, censorship and exclusion have been hallmarks of American society. Just as unions, the civil rights and peace movements were pressured to cleanse themselves of suspected “communists,” the lesbian/gay movement is now expected to rid itself of social misfits, the vulnerable pederasts first of all. Never before has such an ostensibly progressive movement jumped so quickly through the hoops of its enemies. …

We find this the height of hypocrisy – to invoke the name of Stonewall to cast out the alleged molesters among us. The issue is not, first of all, intergenerational sex – although that is one the movement needs to confront honestly rather than avoid. SOS takes no stand specifically on age of consent laws or sex between adults and those deemed legally “children.”

NAMBLA’s record as a responsible gay organization is well known…. NAMBLA believes the interests of young people demand not paternalistic protection, but empowerment to make real choices. Every organization within Stonewall 25 need not endorse every one of the other organization’s positions. NAMBLA’s call for the abolition of the age of consent is not the issue. NAMBLA is a bona fide participant in the gay and lesbian movement. NAMBLA deserves strong support in its rights of free speech and association and its members’ protection from discrimination and bashing.

SIGNED: Harry Hay, Pat Califia, Gayle Rubin, Chris Bearchelli, Scott O’Hara, Charley Shively, David Thorstad, Tom Reeves, Jim Becker

By all accounts, Hay was the primary author of this document, which is why his name is listed first. (Click the link above to read the full press release.)

Remember that in my earlier Memo to Kevin Jennings, I ascertained that:

• Harry Hay gave speeches and presentations at several NAMBLA conventions
• Harry Hay hosted panel discussions at NAMBLA meetings
• Harry Hay wrote a blurb for a book published by NAMBLA
• Harry Hay marched either with or in support of NAMBLA in gay pride parades
• Harry Hay wrote long impassioned and eloquent essays in defense of man/boy love
• NAMBLA considers Harry Hay one of their leading champions
• Harry Hay once wrote these words: “The relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world.”

Isn’t that enough for you? Or do you require more…and more and more and more evidence of Hay’s connection to NAMBLA until the pile is so high it can be seen from coast to coast? But why do you want an endless stream of additional evidence to be dug up on this story? I can’t even grasp your motivation. It seems like you’re trying to turn this into a bigger scandal than it already is. Wouldn’t it be infinitely wiser — and healthier for Kevin Jennings’ political position — for Media Matters to just admit the self-evident truth that Harry Hay was a long-standing fierce public advocate for NAMBLA and everything it stood for, rather than stir the pot of controversy by flatly denying the obvious? I get the feeling that Media Matters just has knee-jerk reactions to anything you perceive as an attack on the Obama administration, and you respond with vitriol and deception — without putting much thought into the ruinous consequences of your actions.

An article in the American Spectator called “When Nancy Met Harry” said that Harry Hay’s predilection for pedophilia “was common knowledge,” at least in San Francisco (and by extension other gay communities) — despite the trend by those who praised him to “blithely give a wink-and-a-nod to ole Harry and his interest in little boys.” This is exactly what Kevin Jennings seems to have done.

The autobiographical book Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder By Harry Hay contains several references to Hay’s support of NAMBLA as well — eliminating any doubt as to Hay’s position on this topic. The book reprints a long essay written by Hay in defense of NAMBLA called “Our Beloved Gay/Lesbian Movement at a Crossroads.” It is far too long to reprint here in full, so I will only present two short excerpts from the book to give the flavor of it. And accompanying them are scans of the relevant pages in the book to prove the text really did appear as transcribed here.

The first passage was written by Hay’s co-author and editor Will Roscoe in his introduction to Hay’s essay, in which he summarizes Hay’s main intellectual argument in favor of pederasty:

Radically Gay: Page 302

“…[Harry Hay] was once a young Gay man, well under the age of consent, who sought out sexual contact with an adult man and found it. To call this “child molestation” only stigmatizes homosexuality further and makes it more difficult for young Gay people to make contact with others like them.”

The second passage comes from Hay’s essay itself, featuring his typically counter-intuitive definition of “child molestation”:

Radically Gay: Page 309

“Insofar as child molestation is concerned, the most common, yet unrecognized, form is the sexual coercion of Gay and Lesbian youth into heterosexual identities and behaviors. This is practiced daily by the whole national and international Hetero community–parents, families, teachers, preachers, doctors, lawyers, and Indian Chiefs, not to overlook U.S. Senators and the pooh-bah news media. This outrageous coercion of Gay kids into heterosexual identities and behaviors is not only sexually abusive, it is a spiritually devastating rape because the child, unknowingly, is led into self-loathing at the same time!

For this gigantic criminal trespass–against not only today’s youth, but all of us since childhood, from the Queers my age, 82, down through all the generations of Queers now reading this page, to the Gay kids still being bedeviled by heterosexual coercion–we, the international Gay and Lesbian People, should unite to sue the whole guilty hetero community for compensation!

You can see from this essay that Hay was not some doddering old man unaware of what he was saying: He fully grasped the significance of his arguments. And what’s particularly interesting about this passage is that the arguments it presents are not wildly different from the arguments presented today by many mainstream advocacy groups — minus, of course, any mention or support of NAMBLA. Harry Hay’s manner of thinking has indeed been influential, even if his promotion of pederasty has at the same time been conveniently ignored.


Having read all this, Media Matters, do you still think it wise to flatly deny that Harry Hay was a NAMBLA supporter, and even if he was, to deny that Kevin Jennings knew anything about it?

Don’t you think it would be a better course of action for you to join me in my call for Kevin Jennings to disassociate himself from Harry Hay and Hay’s philosophy as quickly and unambiguously as possible?

[Note: Kevin Jennings is the current "Safe Schools Czar" for the Obama administration.]

Mr. Jennings —

Please read my plea. Your shining career may soon be tarnished. You’re about to be blindsided. And I’d like to help you save your reputation.

You’ve done many admirable things which earned you your position as the Safe Schools Czar. You founded GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a support group for teens. You have been a champion against discrimination in schools. And you’ve brought nationwide attention to the problem of bullying against students. All of these are worthy of praise, and I support your efforts in these areas.

But all that is about to be swept away by a scandal of your own making. Yet there’s hope: Because the scandal has not yet become national news, you still have a chance to stop it from spreading, and in the process safeguard your political career.

(And no, I’m not talking about the earlier uproar over your advice to a student.)

Instead, I’m talking about something new — something which up until now has been a minor footnote to that scandal. Something that seems poised to explode into public consciousness any minute. And you still have a brief window of opportunity to get in front of it and defuse the scandal before it breaks.

I’m talking about the revelation that in a speech you gave in 1997, you praised gay rights icon Harry Hay and claimed you were “inspired” by him.

According to various blogs and smaller news outlets, when you addressed the GLSEN Mid-Atlantic Conference on October 25, 1997 in New York, as reported in the January-February 1998 edition of the Lambda Journal, you said:

One of the people that’s always inspired me is Harry Hay, who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America. In 1948, he tried to get people to join the Mattachine Society. It took him two years to find one other person who would join. Well, [in] 1993, Harry Hay marched with a million people in Washington, who thought he had a good idea 40 years before. Everybody thought Harry Hay was crazy in 1948, and they knew something about him which he apparently did not—they were right, he was crazy. You are all crazy. We are all crazy. All of us who are thinking this way are crazy, because you know what? Sane people keep the world the same [shitty] old way it is now. It’s the people who think, ‘No, I can envision a day when straight people say, “So what if you’re promoting homosexuality?”‘ Or straight kids say, ‘Hey, why don’t you and your boyfriend come over before you go to the prom and try on your tuxes on at my house?’ That if we believe that can happen, we can make it happen. The only thing that will stop us is our lack of faith that we can make it happen. That is our mission from this day forward. To not lose our faith, to not lose our belief that the world can, indeed, be a different place. And think how much can change in one lifetime if in Harry Hay’s one very short life, he saw change from not even one person willing to join him to a million people willing to travel to Washington to join him.

So — what’s the problem? The problem is that Harry Hay, despite whatever else he did in his life, was deeply involved with NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association — a group which advocates for legalization of sexual relations between adult men and underage boys. In other words, it’s a pro-pedophilia group.

How deeply was Harry Hay involved with NAMBLA? As I discovered: very deeply. Much deeper than almost anyone seems willing to admit. He gave keynote speeches and led panel discussions at several NAMBLA conferences. He openly told stories about how wonderful his own experiences were as a young teenager having sex with adult men. He encouraged the gay rights movement to not exclude NAMBLA from the united front of rights for all sexual minorities. And that 1993 march you recalled in your 1997 speech in which Harry Hay was joined by one million other protesters? Well, just one year later, in 1994 — just three years before you gave your speech — Harry Hay marched in the Stonewall 25 parade in front of the NAMBLA banner, for the stated purpose of bringing NAMBLA into the mainstream of the gay rights movement. Now, obviously NAMBLA doesn’t publish lists of its members, so we have no way of ever knowing for sure, but from all the evidence I’ve learned (presented below on this page), I wouldn’t be surprised if Harry Hay was at some point somehow affiliated with NAMBLA.

How could you not know any of this? What were you thinking when you praised Hay in public? Aren’t you by your own self-description an expert in the history of the gay rights movement? How else would you know the obscure details of Harry Hay’s activist career, which you mentioned in your speech? I’m no expert myself, but Harry Hay’s proclivities were quite well-known, and the photos, links and quotes presented below were uncovered after a mere 30 minutes of searching.

Yes, I know that many mainstream media outlets showered praise on Harry Hay in their obituaries about him when he died in 2002. And nary a mention of his NAMBLA activities was made at the time. But as a prominent gay rights activist yourself, and as a fan of Harry Hay’s early activism, weren’t you of all people the kind of person who should have known of Harry Hay’s unsavory later affiliations? Just because his NAMBLA connection was swept under the rug for a mainstream audience, doesn’t mean it would stay hidden forever.

But if you get out in front of this story and admit your error, rather than trying to cover it up, you can defuse the inevitable controversy that will arise once the info shown below hits the nightly news.

Gay teens need to feel safe — not just from bullies their own age, but also from adult predators seeking to take advantage of them. You’ve done such a great job thus far in encouraging a nurturing and bully-free environment for gay teenagers; do you want to undermine your own goals by fostering the impression that you’re not as diligent as you possibly could be when it comes to protecting them from adults? Speak up. Don’t let your silence turn into a tragedy.

Here is evidence of Hay’s NAMBLA connections; and following that, I make some recommendations for how you can defuse this controversy and distance yourself from Hay. Please read all the way to the end.


Harry Hay’s connection with NAMBLA: the evidence

Here’s a photo of Harry Hay participating in a panel discussion at the 1984 NAMBLA conference in San Francisco — he’s on the far right of the speakers’ table, in the cap and glasses:


[Source link for this image: nambla.org – Youth Views and Issues]
(also here: nambla.org – HARRY HAY San Francisco, 1984)

The caption on the original NAMBLA source page definitively identifies Hay as the man on the far right:

Jesse (center), age 16, addresses a NAMBLA forum.
Other speakers included (left to right) David Thorstad, Jim Kepner, Morris Kight, and Harry Hay.

And yes, other known pictures of Harry Hay prove that the guy on the right most certainly is him — the cap and the glasses were his trademark.

The photo above is clearly Harry Hay, but the NAMBLA banner, while identifiable, is partly cut off. However, the next photo in the series shows the banner clearly. The photo below shows a wide-angle shot of Hay at the speakers’ table (on the right in the leather cap) at the same conference, with the NAMBLA banner clearly visible behind him:


[Source link for this image: nambla.org – HARRY HAY San Francisco, 1984]

Caption at the NAMBLA source page for this photo:

The following comments by Harry Hay are from a public forum on the topic “Man/Boy Love and Sexual Liberation” held during a NAMBLA conference at the Pride Center in San Francisco, October 7, 1984.

But wait, there’s more:

Photo of Harry Hay (center) marching in the “Spirit of Stonewall” contingent along with NAMBLA (notice the partially obscured NAMBLA banner behind him) at the Stonewall 25 march in New York in 1994:


[Source link for this image: nambla.org – Histories of Man/Boy Love]

Caption for this photo on the NAMBLA source page:

Left to right: John Burnside, Harry Hay and Jim Kepner marching in the Spirit of Stonewall demonstration, New York, 1994.

Aside from the photos, there are many links to Harry Hay material prominently displayed on NAMBLA’s own site.

According to a NAMBLA Web page called “A Quest for Knowledge: HARRY HAY at NEW YORK UNIVERSITY 1983,” Hay wrote the promotional blurb for a NAMBLA book:

The episode is documented in the book, A Witchhunt Foiled: The FBI vs. NAMBLA (New York: NAMBLA, 1985), for which Harry wrote a promotional blurb.

[UPDATE: A photo of Hay’s pro-NAMBLA book blurb can be found here.]

Then, on the same page, after recounting his own early man/boy experiences (as the boy half of the equation), Hay goes on to make the most astonishing statement:

I also would like to say at this point that it seems to me that in the gay community the people who should be running interference for NAMBLA are the parents and friends of gays. Because if the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world. And they would be welcoming this, and welcoming the opportunity for young gay kids to have the kind of experience that they would need.

Kevin Jennings, we know you do not support this kind of statement, and you are not “inspired” by the kind of activism Harry Hay exhibits here. For the good of the gay community, PLEASE condemn this publicly and emphatically.

The NAMBLA page called “HARRY HAY on MAN/BOY LOVE” explains some of the political in-fighting between Hay and other NAMBLA supporters against mainstream gay groups and politicians who wanted to ostracize NAMBLA. It also discusses how at least two early Mattachine Society members were both later affiliated with NAMBLA — which begins to cast a bit of a shadow on the Mattachine Society itself:

I was lucky to have spent more time with him than I could have hoped for, yet far less than I would have liked—at Phil Willkie’s Wisconsin cabin and his St. Paul apartment; at the Stonewall 25 demonstration in New York in 1994, where Harry and John, as well as the late Jim Kepner (another early member of the Mattachine Society and a gay archivist) marched with the Spirit of Stonewall contingent that included NAMBLA; and at the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) conference in New York that same week, which expelled NAMBLA (despite Harry’s vocal protests and subsequent disgust) under pressure from U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, the Clinton administration, gay congressman Barney Frank, and the gay and lesbian assimilationist organizations; at his and John’s apartment in San Francisco; at a Faerie event in Stuyvesant Square Park in New York; at several NAMBLA conferences

And speaking of the “several NAMBLA conferences” which Harry Hay atttended…:

Harry Hay spoke again at the 1986 Los Angeles NAMBLA Conference:

The following comments were made by Harry at a panel on censorship and pornography at the NAMBLA conference in Los Angeles on November 8, 1986. …

“I think this is a place where we have to find very imaginative ways to reach all kinds of elements of the community that we up to now haven’t thought of touching. Not only to reach all kinds of elements of our own community, but to find the weak spots, shall we say, within the left, within the progressive forces in the hetero community who might find themselves in parallel with where we are, or in parallel with the way that we feel we are going to go, and make of them willing—or even unwilling—allies in this whole regard.”

And in 1994 — just three years before you praised Harry Hay as your inspiration — Hay gave yet another speech at the 1994 New York NAMBLA Conference:

Harry made the following remarks on June 25, 1994, to the NAMBLA conference in New York held during the Stonewall 25 commemorations.

In fact, I have been unable to find information about any NAMBLA conference which Harry Hay didn’t attend.

I don’t know what it takes to be considered “in NAMBLA” or a “NAMBLA member,” but someone who makes appearances at and gives speeches at every known NAMBLA conference, and who speaks out publicly in NAMBLA’s defense, and who writes blurbs for NAMBLA books, would seem to be a likely candidate.


I strongly recommend that you take one of the following steps IMMEDIATELY, before this story gets out of control.

Either,

a. Publicly condemn Harry Hay for his involvement with NAMBLA, apologize for praising him, and say it was a terrible mistake for someone such as yourself who is involved with the safety of children in schools to have praised an advocate for child sexual predators.

…or…

b. Deny, while supplying proof, that you ever gave any speech praising Harry Hay in the first place. (The speech was supposedly given on October 25, 1997 in New York and transcribed in the Jan.-Feb. 1998 issue of the Lambda Report. The problem for me is that I’ve never seen a copy of this journal myself, and before I commit myself to a fact, I generally try to dig up the primary sources. I don’t like relying on third-party claims [such as from news articles or blogs] without photographic proof. And I tried to track down a copy of that Lambda Report, with no success. The only library that seems to have it is the Library of Congress. So: I myself cannot say for sure that the transcription is accurate. And if it isn’t accurate, you need to tell us.) If you have never praised Harry Hay, then the scandal will immediately evaporate.

…or…

c. Issue an official statement that you were completely unaware of Harry Hay’s proclivities and advocacy for NAMBLA, but now that you’ve learned of it, you condemn him unequivocally, and vow to never praise him again. (However, this option will still leave the issue open to doubt, since it’s not entirely credible you wouldn’t know about Hay’s NAMBLA connection; so I don’t really recommend this one as your best option.)

But — unless you want to self-destruct your own career — by no means should you:

d. Continue to praise Harry Hay’s actions with the Mattachine Society, but try to distance yourself from his later involvement with NAMBLA. (No matter how much you try to spin this, and distinguish the good Harry Hay from the bad Harry Hay, the public will almost certainly still perceive that you were “inspired” by someone who was known to promote adult/child sexual relations.)

…or…

e. Remain silent, hoping the scandal will go away; because it won’t.

And the worst option of all is to,

f. Deny that Harry Hay was involved with NAMBLA at all. (Because the evidence for it is overwhelming, as shown above.)

Mr. Jennings, you’ve worked hard to get where you are. Don’t jeopardize it all now. Distance yourself immediately from Harry Hay. Or prove that you never mentioned him in a speech. Because if you dither, or try to rationalize your praise of Hay, you run the strong risk of tarring not just your own self by association, but the entire Obama administration as well. (Imagine the headlines if you don’t extinguish this scandal ASAP: Obama appoints activist “inspired” by NAMBLA supporter to protect the nation’s children. Do you really want to see that?)

From what i understand, you never even met Harry Hay. You didn’t actually know him. It’s not like he was a personal friend of yours; you just knew his reputation. And yes, because of his role setting up the country’s first gay political organization, there was a drive to protect that reputation, and as a result he was often held up as the Founding Father of the gay movement. So perhaps you can claim ignorance, that you never really looked into who Harry Hay was (beyond the headlines) when you said you were “inspired’ by him. You should have done your due diligence, but didn’t. And that’s fine. We all make mistakes. But now that the due diligence has been done for you, you can no longer pretend that the elephant is not in the living room. For the sake of your own political viability, you need to disavow your earlier statement and cross Harry Hay off your list of heroes. Otherwise, you will be forever linked with him, and that link may well prove an unbearable burden if you don’t sever it. The sooner the better.

Is this entire ridiculous affair nothing but guilt by asssociation? Certainly. But guilt by association has sunk many a politician. You’re in a highly sensitive, very visible political position. And NAMBLA is a very, very bad association. In fact, for someone with your title — “Safe Schools Czar” — even a peripheral connection to NAMBLA is about the worst connection you can possibly have.

That’s why you need to nip this in the bud, and now.

I can only hope that you never really did praise Harry Hay or say you were inspired by him. If that entire issue of the Lambda Report is a hoax, please issue the proof, and I will post an update here showing that proof and exonerating you. That would be the best option of all. And if you did once praise Hay — which is understandable, because a lot of people have praised Hay over the years — then please condemn him now. If you do, I will also gladly update this post right at the very top with your statement.

But if you remain silent on this issue, or continue defending Harry Hay — well, you’re on your own after that. At least I can say I tried to help.

Please, Mr. Jennings: Get in front of this scandal and stop it while you still have a chance.


UPDATE:


Oh dear. Looks like Kevin Jennings edited and co-wrote a book called Becoming Visible about the history of gay activism in which there is an entire chapter about Harry Hay! It is partly searchable on Amazon: Click here for a link to the Amazon “Peek Inside” feature for the book, and scroll to its table of contents. Or click here or on the small image above to see a clear screenshot of the book’s Table of Contents, including the chapter on Harry Hay.

This is not good news.