Usually, when right-wingers want to present something as “bad, evil, wrong,” they reach for the Holocaust. That’s the standard candle for idiotic, outrageous, historically deaf comparisons. And that’s usually good enough for most right-wingers, but not for Matthew J. Franck, a political scientist with the Witherspoon Institution.
In the wake of the SCOTUS’ gradual embrace of marriage equality, Franck, looking for something new to compare it too, called it “a slow-motion Dred Scott for the twenty-first century.”
I suppose; I mean, I can see how giving people the freedom to marry the person they love is just like slavery, providing you believe that freedom is slavery.
Franck made the remarks while writing for the conservative National Review, where he’s a regular contributor. The Witherspoon Institution, where Franck works, helped to fund a discredited study on parenting by gay and straight couples used by opponents of gay rights in an attempt to convince courts to rule against marriage equality. While it was published by a scholarly journal, the journal did an internal audit and eventually concluded that the study was “bullshit.”
Franck’s warped ideas of freedom, and the idea that treating all couples with equal dignity is somehow similar to forcing human beings into bondage, and away from their spouse and children where they could be sold at the whim of their white master, is part of a larger piece about the Supreme Court’s decision no to consider several marriage equality cases. Franck, who obviously doesn’t have a bias, called the legal arguments for equality “rhetorical twaddle,” and concluded with an appeal to the Revised Second Edition of the History of the Republican Party:
The Republican Party was founded in the 1850s with its first platform (in the 1856 presidential election) denouncing slavery and polygamy, both of which the party wanted the federal government to outlaw where it had power to do so, in the territories. These were the “twin relics of barbarism.” One year later, after Dred Scott, the Republican Party added the defense of republican government against judicial tyranny to its portfolio of fundamental principles. The GOP was founded as a party standing for human liberty, the sanctity of the family, and a free self-governing people. As we re-enact a slow-motion Dred Scott for the twenty-first century, it remains to be seen whether any political party in America will continue to stand for those principles.
There’s just enough truth in that statement to make it believable. The Republican party was formed by anti-slavery activists, it had nothing to do at all with polygamy (he threw that in there because of the constant comparisons right-wingers make with gay marriage and polygamy), and acted as a counterbalance to the Southern Democrats and the briefly popular “Know-Nothing Party.”
Which makes it all the more ironic that, as Franck shows, the Republicans have essentially become the Know-Nothing Party.
In a follow-up post, Franck expands on his comparison, stating that:
Like Dred Scott, decisions for same-sex marriage rely on a false anthropology that drives a political decision made by judges. In Dred Scott it was the false idea that some human beings can own other human beings, and that a democratic people cannot say otherwise. In the same-sex marriage rulings it is the false idea that men can marry men, and women can marry women, and that democratic peoples cannot say otherwise.
And Franck’s argument relies on the false idea that rights should be something that the population votes on. This was the same argument used against the Civil Rights act, and, yes, this is also the same argument I’ve seen used to defend slavery in the form of “state’s rights.” That’s what happens when you make an bandwagon appeal rather than actually argue a solid position.