28 June 2019

Australian Rugby Star Sacked For Posting Christian Meme On Instagram

A secular take on the attack on Christianity in the Israel Folau case in Australia.

From The Federalist

By Sumantra Maitra

GoFundMe, where Israel Folau initially located his legal defense fund after being fired over a Christian Instagram meme, abruptly closed his account, accusing him of bigotry.

A huge free speech case is raging in Australia, and it’s symptomatic of the culture war across the Anglosphere. Israel Folau, an Australian rugby star who posted a Christian meme on his Instagram, was sacked from his team because the post was deemed homophobic.

The Instagram meme said everyone who is a cheater, adulterer, homosexual, drunkard, fornicator, gambler, etc., would go to hell and they should repent, followed by a direct quote from the biblical book of Galatians. It did not single out LGBT people, according to Miranda Devine, a columnist for The Daily Telegraph. Nevertheless, a standard evangelical post was used to make an example out of anyone who professes his faith, if that faith happens to oppose homosexual behavior.

That didn’t stop there of course. The majority of the Polynesian players who play for sports teams in Australia and New Zealand are devout Christians, often some of the most practicing in the entire world. Floau’s case has been dubbed a deterrence effort.

For example, GoFundMe, where Folau initially located his legal defense fund, abruptly closed his account, accusing him of bigotry. Fighting so-called bigotry and promoting so-called tolerance and inclusivity was the reason, according to GFM spokeswoman Nicola Britton in a report by the BBC. The account had accrued around $700,000 in donations by the time of its closing.

Folau claimed he was being discriminated against. His wife, Maria Folau, a netball player in New Zealand, is facing calls for sacking for supporting her husband. This has prompted commentators to ponder whether there is any “neutral public square” left, and if not, how to fight back.

The Australian Christian lobby, meanwhile, has pulled resources to start a fund for Folau’s legal defense. This is a curious case and comes at a peculiar time of the culture war.
The Power of Woke Mobs

Not a day goes by when the power of woke capital doesn’t seem prominent and ever increasing. Consider the latest few cycles of news. For example, an online yarn arts community, known as the Facebook of knitting, not just banned specific arguments or words but the entire support of a whole political party. Ravelry banned all material deemed to be supportive of Trump.

This is not some data censorship or shadowy algorithm, but a full-on ban of an elected president’s support, by any and everyone. The excuse was typically weasely, centering around how Trump is apparently a racist, sexist, homophobe. Such words have no meaning, given Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, the record-breaking number of women in his cabinet, and his record on LGBT issues. It’s idiotic to say a lifelong socially liberal New Yorker is suddenly a bigot.

But the bigger issue, which is a test case if it goes without any pushback, is whether any social media platform with millions of followers can simply ban one political ideology and adherents of a specific political party. Likewise, the only issue that somehow is always at the censorship crossroads is faith.

Simultaneously, not a day goes by when there’s no controversy over children in drag or the outright promotion of pedophilia on online platforms. Children in drag is, purely from a numerical angle, is more offensive to a greater number of people than someone simply posting a Bible verse. It is actually physically and psychologically scarring, compared to mere words. Nevertheless, those never see any ban.

One can either logically support the freedom of private companies to decide, but one cannot cherry pick the principle to apply based on the political side. If one is inclined to support any social media company’s right to promote outright discrimination, then he should also be open to any baker refusing to bake a cake, or any religious charity hospital refusing to perform an abortion.

Unfortunately, we are at a time of flux, when these rules are seemingly fluid and the discrimination at big corporations is pretty much always one-sided.
Larger Phenomena at Play

There is a larger sociological phenomenon at work here: The idea of intersectionality is coming to a headlong clash all across the globe due to its inherent contradictions. At a time when one of the most prominent Democratic frontrunners is calling for reparations to all gay couples who weren’t given marriage licenses in the past, it is the testament of mainstream media that minority voters still lean left.

Consider the evidence: There’s a lot more acceptance of LGBT legal preferences among urban educated whites than among rural whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asian/Indian Americans. While open homophobia has subsided across the board, liberal whites are far more pro-gay than is any other ethnicity, especially Hispanics who tend to be, statistically speaking, the least tolerant of gay rights.

Likewise, African-Americans are far more Christian and religious than media and political elites. Likewise, in the United Kingdom, it is mostly the minority communities that are spearheading opposition to LGBT curricula in junior schools.

Now, without taking any sides in this debate, it’s worth noting that this coalition of rainbow business is unsustainable. These are two fundamental issues facing right-wing parties across the Anglosphere.

As I’ve written before, intersectionality is like a religion, and the sins of intersectionality are growing increasingly applicable to normal people. Like every expansionist religion in its early days, it is pervasive, puritanical, and universalist, and takes no prisoners. It battles with every other established religion.

But sooner or later, it will reach a boiling point: “There is a reason crusading, fanatical religions mellow down with time. Any and all fanaticism contains within itself the seeds of self-destruction. Fanaticism alienates normal people, purifying fire and hypocrisy, and fanatical liberalism is no exception.”

Everything that used to be a private affair has become overwhelmingly public in the last decade or so, and given the trends, will continue to be even more; with more freakish, outlandish, and borderline deviant afflictions being pushed mainstream in the name of sexual tolerance. Corporate capital is trying to latch onto these issues more and more, making it even more in-your-face, which will exacerbate even more cultural warfare.
The Right Needs to Reach Out to Ethnic Voters On This

Any opposition or questioning of any slippery-slope ideas, narratives, or agenda is gradually becoming considered bigotry and will result in one-sided discrimination and censorship, usually disproportionately against conservatives. The pattern will be simple.

First, there would be a declaration that one is only against bigotry, and no one who is not a bigot has anything to fear from any deplatforming, harassment, or social censorship. Second, the powers that be will decide that anything they oppose is bigotry. All one needs to do is paint someone, anyone, any group with the sins of the religion of intersectionality, and no trial will be needed. They will simply be punished.

These trends alienate more and more normal, God-fearing social conservatives of all races, age groups, and ethnicities. From the curious case of Folau’s public trial in Australia to social media bans and harassment of conservatives in the United States to LGBT curricula promotion in kindergartens in the U.K., all of it helps to exemplify this trend.

Conservatives across the world need to understand that they have to both tackle platform censorship and invite the alienated crowd to their side, or else they will perish.

Sumantra Maitra is a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, UK, and a writer for The Federalist. His research is in great power-politics and neorealism. You can find him on Twitter @MrMaitra.

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