The Concordat Analogy | R. R. Reno | First Things
Rusty Reno replies to me, and though I tried to comment on the site, I am not sure my comment went through, so I’ll post it here.
“He finds the analogy unhelpful”
This is true!
“and suggests that I am blind to the imperatives of charity.”
This is not true: I said that the decision to offer such benefits would be “eminently defensible … on the grounds of charity.” To say that a position can be defended by appealing to a virtue is in no way to say that anyone who holds a different view is blind to that virtue.
“He assumed I’m making an analogy between Nazism and gays.”
Absolutely untrue! I imagined the headlines that would be written in response to your rhetoric, and (based on what I have seen online) I imagined correctly. Given the pervasiveness of the reductio ad Hitlerum in our discursive culture, any attempt to analogize the Nazi era to our own is going to be read in that way, and it seems to me that you should have anticipated that and sought a different analogy. In writing the sentence “Hitler in 1933 didn’t look so bad—and respectable gay couples don’t seem a threat to marriage or anything else” — in which the church is not mentioned and “Hitler” is grammatically parallel to “respectable gay couples” — you did as much as you could do to ensure that people would say “Reno thinks gays are like Nazis.”
I don’t accuse you of a lack of charity or moral obtuseness, but I think you were rhetorically very careless, and I don’t think that helps the cause of Christian social conservatives.