Could homophobia be on the rise?

Jul 12, 2019 by

by Douglas Murray, UnHerd:

Liberal-minded people carry around as many presumptions as anyone. But among the most striking is the idea that history goes in one direction; that tomorrow is likely to be better than today; that history is a linear path upwards; and that politics is largely a matter of accruing more and more human rights until such a time as everyone is happy.

The critique of this position is easy to make. It is true that in the period since the 19th century, Western societies in particular have seen a steady increase in standards of living and an increase in the accumulation of personal freedoms. Of course there were at least two very serious interregnums in that steady march – namely World Wars One and Two. And in many non-Western societies (not least central and Eastern Europe during the twentieth century), the idea that history moves in one direction might look especially fanciful.

Still, a version of the progressive fallacy seems almost embedded in the modern Western mind. For such people when a piece of territory is conquered and occupied by liberal attitudes it is then held for all time. It is not hard to see the idea’s attraction. What is hard to see is why it is so little refuted. Or rather, why when evidence emerges for its possible refutation, it is reacted to as though it is no evidence at all.

Take the example of gay rights. In the last half a century the situation for gay people in western democracies improved immeasurably. From relations between people of the same sex being illegal in countries such as Britain, we have arrived at a position where gay people are able to marry, where the visibility of gay people in public life has never been greater and where corporations and arms of government positively fall over themselves to demonstrate their commitment to gay rights.

This last element – a positive bragging about a commitment to gay rights (sometimes described as ‘woke capitalism’) – is one that disturbs some of us who do not share the presumptions of inevitable progress. As Pride day has moved into Pride week and now Pride month there has (in the UK at least) emerged a sense of over-reach. This is a personal feeling, obviously, and not one that everybody will share. But I might as well express how it prickles in me.

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