Polygamy comes next

Los Angeles Times - - OP-ED - JONAH GOLD­BERG jgold­berg@latimes colum­nists.com

Iloved read­ing the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” books to my daugh­ter. The some­what Ae­sopian theme is that if you give the mouse what it wants — a cookie — it will just want more: a glass of milk, a straw, etc.

The story came to mind last week, which had many vow­ing to in­ter the Con­fed­er­ate f lag and the Supreme Court man­dat­ing that there is a con­sti­tu­tional right to same- sex mar­riage. As far as cul­ture war vic­to­ries go, the f lag news was big but the mar­riage rul­ing was tan­ta­mount to VE Day.

It might be too much to think that pro­gres­sive ac­tivists and in­tel­lec­tu­als would de­mo­bi­lize af­ter such a “Mis­sion Ac­com­plished” mo­ment. But a rea­son­able per­son might ex­pect so­cial jus­tice war­riors to at least take the week­end off to celebrate.

But no. Even when the cookie is this big, the mice want some­thing more. The call went out that there were new citadels to con­quer. Within hours of the de­ci­sion, Politico ran a call to arms ti­tled “It’s Time to Le­gal­ize Polygamy: Why Group Mar­riage Is the Next Hori­zon of So­cial Lib­er­al­ism.” On Sun­day, Time mag­a­zine had Mark Op­pen­heimer’s “Now’s the Time to End Tax Ex­emp­tions for Re­li­gious In­sti­tu­tions.”

Ear­lier in the week, as cor­po­ra­tions and politi­cians were rac­ing one another to shove the Con­fed­er­ate f lag down the mem­ory hole, a co- host asked CNN’s Don Le­mon if the Jef­fer­son Me­mo­rial should be re­moved from the Na­tional Mall be­cause the for­mer pres­i­dent owned slaves. He said no, but that “there may come a day when we want to re­think Jef­fer­son.”

Within hours of the same sex­mar­riage rul­ing, the White House was beam­ing the gay pride rain­bow f lag on its fa­cade. This is the White House whose cur­rent oc­cu­pant cam­paigned in 2008 pas­sion­ately in­sist­ing that his re­li­gious faith re­quired him to op­pose gay mar­riage. The pres­i­dent and his party now con­sider that po­si­tion to be un­al­loyed big­otry.

Many of us al­ways be­lieved Barack Obama was ly­ing about his op­po­si­tion to gay mar­riage — a belief cor­rob­o­rated when his for­mer guru, David Ax­el­rod, wrote in his memoir that he’d ad­vised his client to con­ceal his per­sonal view for po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ency.

It is some­thing of a sec­u­lar piety to be­moan po­lit­i­cal po­lar­iza­tion in this na­tion. But po­lar­iza­tion in and of it­self shouldn’t be a prob­lem in a democ­racy. The whole point of hav­ing a demo­cratic re­pub­lic, never mind the Bill of Rights, is to give peo­ple the right to dis­agree.

A deeper and more poi­sonous prob­lem is the break­down in trust. Again and again, pro­gres­sives in­sist that their goals are rea­son­able and lim­ited. Pro­po­nents of gay mar­riage in­sisted that they merely wanted the same rights to marry as ev­ery­one else. They mocked, scorned and be­lit­tled any­one who sug­gested that polygamy would be next on their agenda. Un­til they started win­ning. In 2013, a head­line in Slate de­clared “Le­gal­ize Polygamy!” and a writer at the Economist ed­i­to­ri­al­ized, “And now on to polygamy.” The At­lantic ran a fawn­ing piece on Diana Adams and her quest for a polyamorous “al­ter­na­tive to mar­riage.”

We were also told that the fight for mar­riage equal­ity had noth­ing to do with a larger war against or­ga­nized re­li­gion and re­li­gious free­dom. But we now know that was a lie too. The ACLU has re­versed its po­si­tion on re­li­gious free­dom laws, in line with the left’s scorched- earth at­tacks on re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions and pri­vate busi­nesses that won’t — or can’t — em­brace the sec­u­lar fatwa that ev­ery­one must celebrate “love” as de­fined by the left.

I very much doubt we’ll get a con­sti­tu­tional right for teams of peo­ple to get “mar­ried,” but I have ev­ery con­fi­dence the drum­beat will grow louder. So­cial jus­tice — for­ever ill- de­fined so as to max­i­mize the power of its cham­pi­ons — has be­come not just an in­dus­try but also a per­ma­nent psy­cho­log­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion among jour­nal­ists, lawyers, ed­u­ca­tors and other mem­bers of the new class of eter­nal re­form­ers.

By no means are so­cial jus­tice war­riors al­ways wrong. But they are un­trust­wor­thy, be­cause they aren’t driven by a phi­los­o­phy so much as an in­sa­tiable ap­petite that can­not take yes for an an­swer. No cookie will ever sat­isfy them. Our pol­i­tics will only get uglier, as those who re­sist this agenda re­al­ize that com­pro­mise is just another word for ap­pease­ment.

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