Monday, March 25, 2013

History class is no fun because of all the spoilers

Former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita takes to the pages of the NYT in support of marriage equality. High fives all around: as he says,
Years ago, my wife and I became friendly with a young woman whose teenage brother committed suicide after coming out to an unsuspecting and unsupportive father. This woman explained that her father was a football guy, a “man’s man” — whatever that means. She challenged me to speak up for her lost brother because, as she said, the only way to change the heart and mind of someone like her father was for him to hear that people he admires would embrace someone like his son. 
It's critically important that figures like Fujita, with all the self-identification they garner from everyday American guys, push the public consciousness of homosexuality as not something distasteful to be "tolerated", but as something different but equally gender-normative

One thing that struck me, however, is Fujita's choice of rhetorical strategy. He builds the op-ed around past and future conversations with his daughters, conversations about issues of human and civil rights in the U.S.:
As my girls grow up, they will learn about a few of the more embarrassing moments in our nation’s history. And I expect they’ll ask questions. But for the most part, I’ll be prepared to respond because I can point to the progress that followed... But there’s one question I’m not prepared to answer: “Why aren’t Clare and Lesa married?”
This is the pattern that James Loewen talks about in Lies: American history is the story of how, back then, we faced down some obstacles and emerged triumphant. Loewen talks about how American history (as a grade-school subject) isn't so much about learning as it is about instilling civic pride and patriotism; it follows that any discussion in which the U.S. does not come out looking rosy (or at least does not come out having fixed whatever the problem was and moved triumphantly on) is off-limits.

Now, I don't know how genuinely Fujita himself is unprepared to say to his daughters, "Claire and Lesa aren't married because our nation has some big problems."[1] I suspect that this is more rhetorical setup than actual tongue-tiedness at introducing a young, impressionable mind to the notion that America's more perfect union has some ugly cracks in the masonry. But it's an illustrative example regardless.

[1] I caught myself continuing that sentence "... that we haven't completely solved yet", but that is exactly the attitude I'm trying to avoid: the idea that we're America, dammit, and all our problems are either solved or will soon be.

No comments:

Post a Comment