Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

LGBT Totalitarian Kitsch

All answers to questions involving LGBT rights and religious liberty are given in advance

Did you see that terrible, horrible, hatey-hatey-hate-hate thing the House Republicans did? The Hill tells all. Excerpt:

The House floor devolved into chaos and shouting on Thursday as a measure to ensure protections for members of the LGBT community narrowly failed to pass, after Republican leaders urged their members to change their votes.

Initially, it appeared Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-N.Y.) amendment had passed, as 217 “yes” votes piled up over 206 “no” votes when the clock ran out. The measure needed 213 votes to pass.

But it eventually failed, 212-213, after a number of Republican lawmakers changed their votes from “yes” to “no” after the clock had expired.

GOP leaders held the vote open as they pressured members to change sides. Infuriating Democrats, they let lawmakers switch their votes without walking to the well at the front of the chamber.
“Shame! Shame! Shame!” Democrats chanted as they watched the vote tally go from passage of Maloney’s amendment to narrow failure.

Twenty-nine Republicans voted for Maloney’s amendment to a spending bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction projects, along with all Democrats in the final roll call.

“This is one of the ugliest episodes I’ve experienced in my three-plus years as a member of this House,” Maloney, who is openly gay, said while offering his amendment.

Oh, clutch the pearls, it’s the Nuremberg Laws all over again. Do you know what the Russell Amendment actually does? Mike Berry writes elsewhere in The Hill:

This week, the House Rules Committee will consider the so-called Russell Amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a provision that would apply the religious exemption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to federal contractors. This is a necessary addition to the bill because it provides important protection for an often-overlooked contingent in our armed forces: military chaplains. In our armed forces, military commanders are responsible for providing essential religious support programs for our troops. Typically, commanders delegate the day-to-day operations of support programs to their military chaplains. And generally speaking, our chaplains have substantial discretion to supplement religious support programs via Department of Defense contractors and vendors.

Chaplains use diverse and varied contractors to help facilitate their ministerial services. For example, a chaplain may seek a vendor to provide ecclesiastical supplies such as communion wine or religious music for worship, and virtually everything in between. Historically, chaplains have been free to use vendors who meet their denomination’s religious standards with little or no government interference.

For example, a Muslim chaplain may request that a prospective religious support contractor—let’s say a Muslim vendor who supplies prayer rugs—adhere to Islam’s teachings on marriage. Likewise, a Catholic chaplain may request that a prospective ecclesiastical supplier comply with the Catholic Church’s teachings on the theology of the body. The government has historically protected chaplains’ rights to choose contractors who align with the chaplain’s denominational doctrine. But now, the historical respect and protection of our chaplains has come to an end.

In 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order (EO) 13672, which severely restricts and undermines our chaplains’ ability to choose vendors that align with their denomination’s religious eligibility criteria. EO 13672 forces all federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively state that they make employment decisions without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. Non-complying contractors are declared ineligible to contract with the federal government. Notably, EO 13672 does not provide any religious exemptions.

Under EO 13672, the Muslim chaplain would be forced to use a vendor who disregards Islamic teaching on marriage, while the Catholic chaplain seeking ecclesiastical supplies must purchase from a vendor who ignores the church’s doctrine on sexuality.

What many may not realize is that all military chaplains are required to have the backing of an endorsing body. Any chaplain who runs afoul of the tenets and teachings of their endorser is likely to forfeit their endorsement, meaning they can no longer serve as a chaplain. EO 13672 thus places military chaplains between a rock and a hard place: cease seeking religious support or cease being a chaplain.

Not to mention the fact that it’s likely that chaplains in some religious traditions aren’t going to be able to find federally-approved (under the Obama executive order) suppliers for specific religious goods.

None of it matters. Anything that as much as inconveniences LGBTs and their allies, no matter how inconsequential, is intolerable. As the reader who sent me the story commented, “All I can say is hang on to your hats, because the sh*t-storm is about to begin.”

This is true. They aren’t going to bend on anything if they don’t absolutely have to. Religious liberty does not matter to them, no matter what they tell you.

That’s because the LGBT movement and its allies in the Democratic Party, Big Business, and the news media has taken American politics into the real of what Milan Kundera called “totalitarian kitsch.”

In his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, set in Czechoslovakia under communism, Kundera writes:

[T] aesthetic ideal of the categorical agreement with being is a world in which sh*t is denied and everyone acts as though it did not exist. This aesthetic ideal is called kitsch…

Kitsch is the aesthetic ideal of all politicians and all political parties and movements…

Whenever a single political movement corners power, we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch. When I say “totalitarian,” what I mean is that everything that infringes on kitsch must be banished for life…

In the realm of totalitarian kitsch, all answers are given in advance and preclude any questions. It follows, then, that the true opponent of totalitarian kitsch is the person who asks questions. A question is like a knife that slices through the stage backdrop and gives us a look at what lies hidden behind it.


Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch.

Many explicitly Christian movies today qualify as kitsch, as defined by Kundera. The ridiculous Tylenol commercial we talked about last week is a perfect example of LGBT commercial kitsch, à la Kundera.

At the Idea Of A Village festival, several people I talked to said that they are shocked by how many of their conservative Christian friends don’t understand what is happening right now, legally, socially, and culturally. In one way or another, they said that their friends and acquaintances are either in total denial, or they are bizarrely eager to join the Love Wins bandwagon. On this blog’s comments and in private e-mails to me, readers have said similar things, e.g., they’ve been shocked how so many people on their Facebook feeds, people you wouldn’t expect, have gone all in on pro-transgender locker room and bathroom policies.

This is because on LGBT issues, we have entered into the realm of totalitarian kitsch. The fact that it was not imposed on us unilaterally by an undemocratic, authoritarian government does not make it less totalitarian in its effects. It is now close to impossible to deny that there can be any complication, any complexity, any reason to dissent in the least way from what the LGBT movement demands.

I expect there to be the usual people complaining, “There he goes again, being alarmist.” Well, when things are alarming, alarmism is the right response. Understand that the desire for control is so great that the House of Representatives came thisclose to making it impossible for US military chaplains to get religious supplies from vendors that don’t fully buy in to the LGBT movement’s goals. If you think they intend to compromise in any way, you’re deluding yourself.

American middle-class people, especially Christians, are especially vulnerable to kitsch for a number of reasons, but in this particular case, because we are almost pathologically devoted to a form of optimism that requires us to deny … well, to deny sh*t. It’s as if the act of noticing that things are really going downhill, and that this is a problem we had better do something about — it’s as if that is somehow a moral failure, treason to the Power Of Positive Thinking.

Because if a man can’t use your teenage daughter’s locker room, Love Loses, and we cannot have that.

Sobriety and steadiness are important qualities to cultivate in these chaotic times. But there is an important difference between sobriety and steadiness on the one hand, and mindless surrender to totalitarian kitsch on the other.




Want to join the conversation?

Subscribe for as little as $5/mo to start commenting on Rod’s blog.

Join Now