Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

dum metuant

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jun 20, 2006

ECUSA's election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as its new Presiding Bishop "was greeted with whoops of joy by pro-women campaigners," according to the UK Telegraph.

The New York Times likewise tunes in on the gloating.

"I'm thrilled," said the Rev. Susan Russell, the president of Integrity, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian Episcopalians. "I'm a cradle Episcopalian. I remember when there were no women priests. I remember when they said the church was going to split over the ordination of women. What we're giving as a Father's Day gift to the Anglican Communion is a woman primate, and that is wonderful."

In the important ways, all this is stale news. We saw the same "identity politics" in action, also successfully, during the 1989 election of Barbara Harris as bishop, and again three years ago at the Minnesota convention that elected Gene Robinson. Said the NYT in July 2003: "About 200 of the bishops and delegates who will vote at the convention have agreed to wear buttons saying, 'Ask Me About Gene,' and to offer testimony about his worthiness."

The problem with identity politics is that it succeeds too well: it invests the personal resentments of the insurgents with the dignity of politics, while stigmatising the conceptual hesitations of their opponents as bigotry. Once in office, however, those elected by identity politics find themselves crippled. Elected by intimidation disguised as reparation, they must govern by intimidation disguised as consensus. Because the ruse is as hateful to implement as it is to endure, both governor and governed come to loathe one another. The governor's appeals for "trust" are rightly understood to be -- and rejected as -- a plea that the defeated party ignore the subterfuge that occasioned their defeat. That's why identity politics always ends up denying its own existence.

The all-conquering Gene Robinson pouted last year, "My diocese may be the only diocese in the Anglican Communion that is not obsessed with sex" -- to which New Hampshire's traditionalist Episcopalians may ruefully reply: Ask Me About Gene.

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