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28 January 2005

Do not overstate my analogy here!

Buster the bunny rabbit apparently went too far.

…That was before Education Secretary Margaret Spellings denounced the
program, starring Buster Baxter, a cute animated rabbit who until now
has been known primarily as a close friend of Arthur, the world’s most
famous aardvark. Ms. Spellings said many parents would not want
children exposed to a lesbian life style.

Buster joined another
cartoon character, SpongeBob SquarePants, as a focus of the nation’s
culture wars. SpongeBob was recently attacked by Christian groups for
being pro-homosexual, though SpongeBob’s creator said it was all a
misinterpretation. Buster’s offense was appearing in “Sugartime!,” the
undistributed “Postcards From Buster” show, in which he visits children
living in Vermont whose parents are a lesbian couple. Civil unions are
allowed in Vermont.

We might note that this constitutes one of Secretary Spellings’
first acts in office, since it’s her first week in office. 
Perhaps she could do something more useful, like work on raising
writing standards, so that all of my students can write coherent
paragraphs and essays, truly preparing them to thrive in a competitive
global political economy.

Moreover, it’s not like this show proves susceptible to the typical
charge leveled against PBS, that it’s ideologically biased toward
leftist ideas and causes.

Buster appears briefly onscreen, but mainly narrates these live-action
segments, which show real children and how they live. One episode
featured a family with five children, living in a trailer in Virginia,
all sharing one room. In another, Buster visits a Mormon family in
Utah. He has dropped in on fundamentalist Christians and Muslims as
well as American Indians and Hmong. He has shown the lives of children
who have only one parent, and those who live with grandparents.

Somehow, we think our children will be too fragile to understand
that the world courses with difference and diversity, danger and
excitement, sorrow and joy.  We think that by shielding them,
they’ll be better off.

I don’t
mean to overstate the case here, and I don’t think that there’s much chance of this happening, but….

In 1934, Hitler purged his enforcers, the S.A, by accusing the
leaders of having engaged in homosexual acts with young men. In 1935, Germany enacted the Nuremberg Laws, which among other
things (deprived Jews of German citizenship, limited some forms of
employment, and put into place the infamous yellow stars) limited the
rights of Jews to marry or even have sex with non-Jews.  In 1938, we had Kristallnacht, the night of the broken glass.  In 1942, the Wannsee conference took place, at which the German
government finalized the plans for the implementation and conclusion of
the “Final Solution.”  Seven years from legal moves against the Jews to their
.  (And many homosexuals were arrested and sent to the
concentration camps, where they had the highest death rate among the
non-Jewish prisoners.)

Vice President Cheney noted the following at Auschwitz yesterday:

Gathered in this place we are reminded that such immense
cruelty did not happen in a far-away, uncivilized corner of the world,
but rather in the very heart of the civilized world. The death camps
were created by men with a high opinion of themselves – some of them
well educated, and possessed of refined manners – but without
And where there is no conscience, there is no tolerance
toward others … no defense against evil … and no limit to the
crimes that follow.

The story of the camps reminds us that evil is real, and must be called by its name, and must be confronted. [emphasis added]

Look, I don’t want to overstate any analogies to the Nazi regime —
doing that cheapens my argument and the blood of 14 million people,
including 6 million Jews. Will banning Buster result in the camps?  I don’t think
so.  But the attitude underneath the Buster ban bears more
resemblance than I find comfortable.  Besides queers, with what
other minority can one go as far in condemning in public
discourse?  Who else can be invoked as a sign of the national
moral turpitude?  Whose existence is posited by all sorts of
national leaders as destructive of the foundational social
institutions?  I’m hard-pressed to think of another.  Sounds
a little too much like the “perfidious Jew.”

Most Americans refuse to believe that such things as holocausts,
systems of terror and fear, and willful human destruction via
oppression can occur here.  Our history says otherwise.  The
line between our good humanity and our bad humanity is neither thick
nor bright.  We Americans have an almost unlimited capacity to do
good when we want it, but along with that comes our concurrently great
capacity to do evil.  We’ve done both in the past, and it’s only
great vigilance that will keep us from sliding into evil again.

Posted in Politicks on 28 January 2005 at 10:08 am by Nate