Sunday, March 07, 2004

All for One and None for All

Science fiction author Orson Scott Card writes a long and thoughtful article on single-sex marriages. (Hat tip: Lunar Skeletons) Card sees single-sex unions as the latest episode in a 50 year campaign to complete the "systematic destruction of the institution of marriage" which, with a writers broad sweep, he feels is the cornerstone of civilization

Because civilization provides the best odds for their children to live to adulthood ... Civilizations that enforce rules of marriage that give most males and most females a chance to have children that live to reproduce in their turn are the civilizations that last the longest. It's such an obvious principle that few civilizations have even attempted to flout it.

But it is his next assertion which is particularly startling. He regards the attempt to socially re-engineer America through activist courts as underhand and ultimately doomed.

The proponents of this anti-family revolution are counting on most Americans to do what they have done through every stage of the monstrous social revolution that we are still suffering through -- nothing at all. But that "nothing" is deceptive. In fact, the pro-family forces are already taking their most decisive action. It looks like "nothing" to the anti-family, politically correct elite, because it isn't using their ranting methodology. The pro-family response consists of quietly withdrawing allegiance from the society that is attacking the family.

His key argument is that the very "elites" who disdain traditional values ironically rely upon its continuance for their legitimacy and survival. How, he asks, if we lose our awe of marriage and God should we miraculously retain our respect for the judges in robes or titled academics who demolished them?

Who do you think is volunteering for the military to defend America against our enemies? Those who believe in the teachings of politically correct college professors? Or those who believe in the traditional values that the politically correct elite has been so successful in destroying? ... Depriving us of any democratic voice in these sweeping changes may not lead to revolution or even resistance. But it will be just as deadly if it leads to despair. For in the crisis, few citizens will lift a finger to protect or sustain the elite that treated the things we valued -- our marriages, our children, and our right to self-government -- with such contempt.

Card's argument is a strange variation of Edwin Markham's vision of the whirlwind in the Man with a Hoe. There Markham asks the "masters, lords and rulers in all lands" what would befall when the bowed thing that feeds, clothes and bleeds for them -- the Man with the Hoe -- tires of mockery and demands his reckoning.  Even the Marxist poet Pablo Neruda, himself a wealthy man, idly wondered whether he could continue to write were he not supplied with daily bread, meat and eggs by the very mechanism he was sworn to destroy. Card asks the liberal elite the same question. But if history is any guide no aristocracy, least of all a self-appointed one, has ever troubled itself with such rhetorical questions. In a response to bread riots that might have been crafted by Maureen Dowd, a French noble was said to have uttered "let them eat cake". And one set of entitlements ended.

But it is doubtful whether the proponents of traditional values will fold up their tents and withdraw, like a sulking Achilles, from the battlefield of public debate. The very attempt to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment, however doomed or ill-advised, is proof that the wall of silence has not yet been erected. And that is good news. The Constitution may be tattered, but it is not rent. Men are still in debate about how the entire nation can go forward, as Americans. Although there is a gathering in the shadows, the flag still flies -- for the moment -- over land of the free, and one hopes, the land of the intellectually brave.