The Wrong Side of History

So the President made some news this week (forced by a Biden “gaffe”) coming out in support (“personally”) of same-sex marriage. Shepard Smith made an early remark on Fox News that conservatives had better follow suit lest they be left on the wrong side of history. Conservative pundits (those not denouncing our descent into Sodom and Gomorrah) have continued the trend, noting that the numbers do not lie and that support for equality is rising with no sign or reason to decrease.

The wrong side of history.
An interesting concept. Makes you wonder what other things politicians are current on the wrong side of history regarding – global warming, reproductive rights, immigration, financial regulation, campaign finance, corporate personhood, factory farming, organic food, local food, intellectual property, internet privacy, drone strikes, the war on drugs, the war on terror, indefinite detention, &c. The list could go on and on.

But what the concept really brings to the fore is the nature of power (not that this is a new concept) within our political realm. The drive to stay in power means to stay “on the right side of history”. The issue isn’t to support equality because you believe in it only because it is currently gaining in popularity. Power is to be held for the sake of power. Only the victorious write history, right?

This also re-raises the notion of the end of history. This is a reworking of the tired teleology of the egalitarian liberal democracy and the glorious freedom of capitalism. Except now with homosexuals. It is a redrawing of the lines of who gets to party at the end of the world, who gets to be included in our Panglossian best of all possibles.

Yes, the move towards greater equality is a good thing. The personal support of the President isn’t going to help North Carolina much right now, but it is nothing to sneeze at. But this slow drive towards inevitable libdem utopia is as absurd now as it was in the 90s. The notion that one must be on the right side of history, that one must make one’s views fall in line with this positivist drive for progress is naive and a little insulting (to flip-flop – as the current parlance has it – because one’s views are unpopular seems to discount any reason for holding them. Not that I think that anyone should have reasons for being against equality, but what happens when the wrong side of history is used to refer to something else?).

How many issues need to be redressed before reality is on the right side of history?
How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?