Sometimes, the obvious needs to be said. The world’s population is 6.7 billion (World Population Clock) and rising: a large and flourishing population of human beings exists in almost every part of the world. About the only continent we don’t have a breeding population of humans on is Antarctica, and we could, any time we wanted, it would just take much more technological investment than penguins need.
So what’s with the “demographic winter” thing that Christian-right “profamily” activists are so keen on? As Kathryn Joyce points out in The Nation, what’s missing are the “right” babies – what worries this kind of person is not the human species becoming extinct, but not enough white babies being born.
At the national level, in 2004 Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi offered a “baby bonus” of about $1,000 to parents who had a second child. … Elizabeth Krause, an anthropologist and author of A Crisis of Births: Population Politics and Family-Making in Italy, tracked that country’s population efforts over the past decade and found politicians demanding more babies “to keep away the armadas of immigrants from the southern shores of the Mediterranean” and priests calling for a “Christian dike against the Muslim invasion of Italy.” The racial preferences behind Berlusconi’s “baby bonus” came into embarrassing relief when immigrant parents were accidentally sent checks for their offspring and then asked to return the money: the Italian government hadn’t meant to promote those births.
Barry McLerran, said to be a “producer” (he doesn’t appear on IMDB), did a “documentary” about this problem racists have with white women not having “enough” babies, which is entitled Demographic Winter.
Proposition 8 passed on lies: one of the most prevalent lies before it passed was that somehow it would affect the Californian school system. That’s not a lie the pro-Prop8ers can usefully stick to, as it will become evident as time goes on that “Yes on 8” didn’t affect the school system in California at all.
But now the rash of homophobic blogs that appeared around Proposition 8 have been picking up on this: I noticed it via Beetle Blogger, Kingfisher Column, The Pomegranate Apple, all of whom are linking to a free torrent. They need an excuse: a claim that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, this will somehow affect the white population of the world, or at least of their respective countries. This works for the anti-marriage movement because for them (as I wrote two years ago):
these people who oppose contraception, sex education, abortion, and who oppose child support, a right to paid maternity leave, breastfeeding, subsidised daycare, free education for all beginning in nursery school. Racism and sexism are the roots, with homophobia as a flourishing fruit of the tree.
Not just the bloggers, but their permitted commenters (most of these blogs only allow their own cohort to post comments):
- “Oh man. If that video doesn’t make obvious the need for traditional, healthy marriage and family, I don’t know what will. Homosexuals seem to always bring up the broken homes, victims of divorce, that plague our society today. As if the crumbling family unit and committed, loving marriage will be saved by allowing gays to marry.”
- Marriage has been weakened by no-fault divorce and the general acceptance of cohabitation and adultery. Will gay marriage serve to strengthen the desire for marriage in the eyes of young heterosexual males? The mule is about to kick again.
- The amazing thing is that people can see pretty clearly that the trends are going south, but the majority of people haven’t been convinced enough to change how they see things. Perhaps this has to be like the new “environmentalism” cause. Save the planet, go back to basics, families, values, vegetables and whole grains.
It’s not just about equal marriage. For these people, racism is just as important as sexism is just as important as homophobia: not only must same-sex couples be denied marriage, white women must be denied contraception and access to abortion, because more of the right kind of babies must be born.
On 16th November, in The Advocate, Michael Joseph Gross described an encounter with an elderly straight woman:
The night before Election Day, a black woman walked into the San Francisco headquarters of the No on Proposition 8 campaign. Someone had ripped down the No on 8 sign she’d posted in her yard and she wanted a replacement. She was old, limping, and carrying a cane. Walking up and down the stairs to this office was hard for her.
I asked why coming to get the sign was worth the trouble, and she answered, “All of us are equal, and all of us have to fight to make sure the law says that.”