The New ‘Friendlier Face’ of Conservatism Is an Old-School Homophobe
The publicity push has already commenced and Little Way has been critically well-received. The book is going to make a mint. It will, I predict, be passed around churches and bought in bulk for book clubs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dreher ends up promoting the book on Oprah; he’s a decent writer, the story is assuredly compelling and he comes off as a reasonable sort.
Crucially, Dreher has (to employ a theologically inappropriate term from Law & Order) a rabbi in David Brooks. In late 2011, Brooks declared Dreher “one of the country’s most interesting bloggers” and “part of a communitarian conservative tradition that goes back to thinkers like Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet.” And last year, Brooks placed Dreher among the conservatives of the future, who “tend to be suspicious of bigness: big corporations, big government, a big military, concentrated power and concentrated wealth.”
As it happens, I find most of this (“big government” crack excepted) thoroughly agreeable. It would be a wonderful thing indeed if Dreher were the type of level-headed conservative Brooks describes. But, alas, as Dreher expert Roy Edroso has patiently explained, he is not. Brooks ignores the side of Dreher that has nothing in common with Reihan Salam, Megan McArdle and Tyler Cowen — his pernicious social conservatism. In particular, homosexuality in general and gay rights in particular are longtime obsessions of Dreher’s. His writings in this area betray a belief that, one would hope, is not of a piece with the conservatism of the future.
Prospective readers, particularly gay readers and their allies, ought to know that the man to whom they might fork over their hard-earned cash is not in their corner and has made them a target of an astonishing opprobrium. What follows is hardly a definitive review of Dreher’s work concerning gays — he makes these arguments ad nauseum — but it is representative of his beliefs.
To be sure, relative to the late Jerry Falwell or Jesse Helms or the still-breathing Tony Perkins, Rod Dreher’s distaste for gays is subtle. You will not catch him publically tossing around faggot or queer. But the intolerance is very real, and the purpose seems to be always to undercut homosexuals. There isn’t another way to interpret Dreher’s belief that gays are less than “fully human,” that being gay means “the death of the soul,” that homosexuality is synonymous with alcoholism, and that bisexuality is a “violation of the moral order.” Just keep that in mind over the coming months as Dreher continues his media blitz. He is not a nice guy.