The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) has been criticized on this site for the views espoused on their site by members of their Scientific Advisory Committee.
Not surprisingly, NARTH’s views about gay people are less than complementary. Some show amazing ignorance about actual living breathing gay persons and some demonstrate a revulsion that is expressed in terms that cannot be described as other than hateful.
What is surprising, however, is some of the language that is used to address other social issues or historical situations that effect people other than those who are gay. It seems that NARTH’s advisors are quite opinionated and some of their opinions are so far from what is considered mainstream as to be shocking.
Take the statements made by Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D., a prominent advisor to NARTH in an article featured on the organization’s website titled Gay Rights and Political Correctness: A Brief History. In this article, Schoenewolf decry’s “political correctness”, a viewpoint that he finds objectionable and which he defines as
a way of viewing the world that asserts that some people are oppressors and some people are oppressed, some people are prejudiced and some people are victims of prejudice, some people are guilty and some people are innocent.
The doctor goes on at length about how the view of supporting the oppressed (he calls it “idealization”) and holding the oppressor to task (he calls it “demonization”) is all based on Marx. A more learned and reasonable approach might suggest that sympathy for the oppressed has been a tenet of Christianity for most of its history (and Judaism before it) and thus was engrained in Western Civilization long before Marx ever conceived his ideas. How else does one explain Robin Hood or St. Nicholas?
Schoenewolf goes on to present the obligatory rant about how evil homosexuals are using mob rule and emotional intimidation to silence anyone who disagrees with them. In a paranoid fashion he sees connections between the gay equality movement and worldwide Marxism and is convinced that the gay freedom movement is intended to demonize and overthrow heterosexuals.
But the disturbing part of Schoenewolf’s article is in whom he compares to these evil homosexuals: feminists and the civil rights movement. To make his argument that oppressors are not all-bad, Schoenewolf pleads a defense of slavery
With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America. It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle for most people, and that it was the Africans themselves who first enslaved their own people. They sold their own people to other countries, and those brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa. But if one even begins to say these things one is quickly shouted down as though one were a complete madman.
Slavery has existed in some form for all of recorded history. Yet the enslavement of Africans for the agricultural advantages of plantation owners in America and Brazil holds a special place in the annuls of inhumanity, a degradation of the human spirit unseen before it in the West for more than a thousand years.
It can be argued that the original capture of slaves was made by other Africans. But does any rational person think that this was not the direct result of a ready slave trade? And what of their fate after they left their original captors?
Lest we think that slavery might be better than living in a non-industrialized jungle, let’s consider the trip across the ocean. This is from a first hand account by Reverend Robert Walsh of the conditions upon boarding a slave ship in 1829 (I caution you, this made me physically ill to read)
But the circumstance which struck us most forcibly was how it was possible for such a number of human beings to exist, packed up and wedged together as tight as they could cram, in low cells three feet high, the greater part of which, except that immediately under the grated hatchways, was shut out from light or air, and this when the thermometer, exposed to the open sky, was standing in the shade, on our deck, at 89′.
226 fellow creatures were thus thrust into one space 288 feet square and 336 into another space 800 feet square, giving to the whole an average Of 23 inches and to each of the women not more than 13 inches. We also found manacles and fetters of different kinds, but it appears that they had all been taken off before we boarded.
The heat of these horrid places was so great and the odor so offensive that it was quite impossible to enter them, even had there been room.
On looking into the places where they had been crammed, there were found some children next the sides of the ship, in the places most remote from light and air; they were lying nearly in a torpid state after the rest had turned out. The little creatures seemed indifferent as to life or death, and when they were carried on deck, many of them could not stand.
Once reaching their destination, these humans began their lives of servitude. Naturally, being slaves they were not considered to have the rights of “real humans”. The indignities exceeded simply forced labor and savaged the most basic of principles of decency. William Wells Brown tells this story
A man and his wife, both slaves, were brought from the country to the city, for sale… The man was first put up, and sold to the highest bidder. The wife was next ordered to ascend the platform. I was present. She slowly obeyed the order. The auctioneer commenced, and soon several hundred dollars were bid. My eyes were intensely fixed on the face of the woman, whose cheeks were wet with tears. But a conversation between the slave and his new master attracted my attention. I drew near them to listen. The slave was begging his new master to purchase his wife. Said he, “Master, if you will only buy Fanny, I know you will get the worth of your money. She is a good cook, a good washer, and her last mistress liked her very much. If you will only buy her how happy I shall be.” The new master replied that he did not want her but if she sold cheap he would purchase her. I watched the countenance of the man while the different persons were bidding on his wife. When his new master bid on his wife you could see the smile upon his countenance, and the tears stop; but as soon as another would bid, you could see the countenance change and the tears start afresh.
From this change of countenance one could see the workings of the inmost soul. But this suspense did not last long; the wife was struck off to the highest bidder, who proved not to be the owner of her husband.
And what did the slave have to look forward to? A life of backbreaking physical labor, the loss of all history or sense of identity, beatings or worse should he object, no ownership of property or even self, and the absolute oppression of the soul. Even should a slave be granted freedom by some benevolent owner, this was subject to the whim of those who fed their purse by recapturing and re-enslaving freed blacks.
For a century after slavery was abolished in this country, the descendents of the slaves continued to live in a society that treated them with mockery, unequal services and laws that sought to keep them oppressed. Further, the base expectations of society demanded that they not consider themselves to be in any way equal to the descendants of the animals that abused their ancestors. It was not until the civil rights movement began to “demonize the oppressor and idealize the oppressed”, that a reevaluation of these indignities began to be considered. And it is this civil rights movement that Schoenewolf views with such disdain.
Perhaps this article would not appear outlandish if it were written in Alabama in 1957. But this little treatise about political correctness was posted on NARTH’s website in April of last year.
So I ask you: do you believe that Africans sold to the slave markets in America “were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa”?
I ask you: what kind of person makes this sort of claim? What kind of person views slavery so benignly?
The kind that advises NARTH.