Responding to controversy surrounding his writings on political correctness, Gerald Schoenewolf was interviewed by an anonymous writer for an article on the NARTH website. In an article titled: Political Correctness Gone Amok: The Latest Controversy, Schoenewolf criticizes the recent report by Brentin Mock of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He blames Mock for twisting his words regarding slavery. Schoenewolf says: “No person is better off enslaved, obviously,” Schoenewolf told NARTH. “What I tried to say, before my words were twisted by that reporter, is that despite the clear and obvious evil of that practice, we tend to forget that many of the enslaved people had been first been sold into bondage by their fellow countrymen; so coming to America did bring about some eventual good. No social issue has all the ‘good guys’ lined up on one side and ‘bad guys’ on the other.”
Let’s compare this idea with what he said in his initial article: With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America. It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle for most people, and that it was the Africans themselves who first enslaved their own people. They sold their own people to other countries, and those brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa.
I will leave it to the reader to judge whether Dr. Schoenewolf’s words were twisted. I am glad he is now saying that the good done was “eventual” but that is not what it seems to me that he said in the original article. While we are on that point, I do not see why one would imply that a moral evil is of necessity associated with an eventual benefit. This assumes that the only way the current good (African-Americans are here and not in famine and war-torn Africa) could have happened is via the moral evil (slavery). On the other hand, we could look at it this way: Current economic benefits, freedoms and safeties have occured despite slavery, not because of it. Slavery was not a necessary precursor to the current situation; Africans could have come here under some other more positive circumstances if the moral evil of slavery did not exist.
Schoenewolf did not address one of his central tenets (civil rights movements are derived from Marxism) in this new defense. To wit, here is a passage from the original article:
Subsequent to Marx, various human rights groups began using his ideology to rationalize their movements, primarily in America. First came the Civil Rights Movement, which began in the 1850s and was one of the causes of the Civil War. In this case, European-Americans (Caucasians) became the oppressors and African-Americans became the oppressed; European-Americans were demonized, and African-Americans were idealized; European-Americans who had practiced slavery or segregation were viewed as all-bad and African-Americans were seen as all-good.
African-Americans were urged by various leaders to unify and rebel against European-Americans and to demand special privileges as compensation for their suffering at the hands of the latter. Civil rights leaders, like Marx and Engels before them, believed that their way, and only their way, was the valid way to look at the issue. In the 1950s, the Civil Rights Movement went into high gear, and the leaders of the movement, just like Marx and Engels, began to punish anybody who was in any way critical of the movement or had any other point of view with respect to solving racial discrimination by labeling them “racists” and “bigots” and attempting to isolate and ostracize them.
I consulted GCC Professor of History, Gillis Harp regarding the paragraph above and he had this to say:
“Hardly any Abolitionists ever read Marx or were particularly influenced by him. You (Throckmorton) are quite correct about the evangelical roots of the Abolitionist movement. The Quakers were among the first to oppose slavery in writing. The British leader, William Wilberforce — a Tory evangelical! — was about as far from a Marxist as one could get. Arthur & Lewis Tappan are good examples of American evangelicals who were Abolitionist leaders.”
Bottom line message I get from this new article: If you express disagreement with Dr. Schoenewolf, you must be a “so-called liberal” who is intent on stiffling dialogue. It is rare that I or anyone here in the Grove would be called a liberal. We’re as much liberals as Wilberforce was a Marxist.
The article concludes with Dr. Nicolosi saying: “The bottom line,” said NARTH President Joseph Nicolosi, “is that NARTH’s mission has nothing to do with any social issue others than same-sex attraction. Our mission is to defend our clients’ rights to assert their own values and say, ‘Gay is not who I really am.'”
This sentiment would represent a shift in NARTH practice which many would welcome. If this was true, then there would have been no controversy in the first place.
UPDATE: 1/17/07 – The Southern Poverty Law Center included the article by Brentin Mock in their print and online magazine, The Intelligence Report under the title, One More Enemy. I noticed that bloggers, including The Daily Kos are picking it up again.
24 thoughts on “Dr. Schoenewolf speaks out: Political correctness gone amok”
Does anybody know where NARTH’s offices are?
Dang it. I was hoping I could just win at Diddy Kong Racing.
Be careful, once you reach the 4th stage you gain the ability to burn things with your eyes at 50 paces. Plus you learn the secret galactic history regarding humanity’s spiritual enslavement courtesy of the evil overlord Xenu. It’s kinda trippy.
Boo – I had no idea you wrote the Big Book of Caulk. I loved the movie and have always wanted to read the book. Is it on Amazon.com?
I am myself working on new book and once I reach the 4th heaven, I mean 4th stage, I will publish it.
So, what are the titles of your 15 books?
The Joy of Puddins
Things I Make With Chicken
Hey, There’s Something Green In Your Teeth
Buffy/Starbuck: The Ultimate Slash Fiction Collection
Forced Agricultural Labor Versus An All Day Kevin Costner Movie Marathon: A Comparative Analysis
Dykes On Trykes: Nursery Rhymes For Your Pre-Homosexual Child
The Collected Awful Thoughts Of NARTH Advisory Board Members: Vol. 1
Men I Could Be Heteroflexible With [more of a short pamphlet]
The Dark Tower: An Ending That Doesn’t Just Poop Out On The Story
Noodlescapes: The World’s Greatest Impressionistic Paintings Reproduced As Macaroni Art
The Gay Agenda [co-author]
The Brunette Agenda
The Moderately Libertarian But Mildly Traditional Except For Gay Marriage Plus I Love Pop Tarts Agenda
The Big Book of Caulk
How To Reach The Fourth Stage Of Development In Ten E-Z Steps
So, what are the titles of your 15 books?
The Introduction of a History of Political Correctness identifies Marxism with PC thought and goes on to specify what it thinks of a society that accepts homosexuals, working women, African Americans, etc. Pages 5-6
The original opening pages also detail anti-Jewish sentiment.
Funny, someone earlier in the blog identified the Schoenewolf article as being ripped from a far left website. I’d identify the Bill Lind article as far right. Maybe that’s where the far left and far right meet?
“Criticising what someone says and denying them their right to say it are two very different things, at least as far as my less developed mind can see.”
Amen, Boo. At least, I think I agree with you — but then again, I have not reached the “fourth stage, so I may be misconstruing you.” “Anonymous” obviously feels that he/she and the “brilliant” Dr. S. are the only two people on the planet who HAVE reached it.
This is a common cry of NARTH when criticized: “you are trying to silence us”. On the contrary, NARTH, keep talking. Keep asserting your right.
Everyone should hear what you believe — although only you and Dr. S. will be smart enough to understand it.
Anonymous (JP?) – What does this mean? In his essay, he said that life was “savage” in early Africa and “in many ways [slaves] were better off than they had been in Africa” The point was not that they were better off, the point was that in many ways, they were better off.
Apparently, I have not reached Piaget’s fourth stage, so not wanting to misconstrue your meaning, I ask. Oh, and in what ways were the slaves better off?
Robbi – Yes, the Free Congress article is similar. In my quick skim, I did not see some of the claims regarding the civil rights movement being Marxist. Did I miss something?
Dr. Schoenewolf is now seen as the “evil oppressor” he so talked about in his essay; how ironic?
Nope, can’t be an evil oppressor without the power.
Actually, if you know Dr S, you will know he has reached Piaget’s fourth stage of development, unlike his gay critics, and can see through abstract and the complexity in things. In his essay, he said that life was “savage” in early Africa and “in many ways [slaves] were better off than they had been in Africa”
Ah, so Schoenewolf’s claim that Africa was a savage jungle is the result of his enlightened state of mental development. And here I was thinking he was engaging in childish bigotry.
This was not pointed out as subjective matter. He stated that it “could be pointed out” as another way of looking at the issue.
Just like it could be pointed out that all black men want to rape white women. You know, as another way of looking at the issue.
If the gays wanted to be critical, instead of calling him and NARTH racist, they should have asked him to elaborate, if anything. But no, they too take the Marxist route he so explained in the essay, in that “the Marxist view was superimposed on the race issue.”
So, is it your enlightened state of higher mental development that causes you to make statements about “the gays?” Cause here again enlightenment sounds suspiciously close to bigotry. My less developed mind can’t see the connection between calling a bigot on his bigotry and Dialectical Materialism. Please explain further so I can catch up.
It’s so interesting that he even said in the essay that anyone “critical of political correctness must be misguided and hence evil, and labeled as [such]” Hence, the madness…. Dr. S is a brilliant man, and he should not be taken out of context, intimated by the gay left, and he should not be tainted, nor should NARTH over this whole issue.
I don’t think anyone’s labeled him evil, but again, perhaps your greater state of mental development has led you to this insight and we lesser beings are not enlightened enough to share in your wisdom. Hallowed are the Ori. Schoenewolf had the opportunity to clarify what he meant, and chose to dig himself in deeper. No one is depicting certain social groups as all bad and others as all good, just as no one has tried to drive him out of the debate. Criticising what someone says and denying them their right to say it are two very different things, at least as far as my less developed mind can see.
The irony is that the Civil Rights Movement has been vehement about pointing out the hysterical lynchings that took place in the old South, but completely blind to its own hysterical tactics.
The only way this statement could have been “taken out of context” would be if it had been preceded by “You would have to be a complete moron to think…” It wasn’t. Unless your more mentally developed way of reading texts can discern that which is hidden from us lesser minds?
Anonymous defender of Dr. Schoenewolf’s Piagetian stage: Do you agree with Dr. Schoenewolf that the civil rights movement beginning with the Civil War was inspired by Marx? And do you consider Grove City College a tool of the gay left?
Anonymoous said (about Schoenewolf):
“he should not be tainted, nor should NARTH over this whole issue.”
I think it’s too late. You can’t un-ring a bell.
Dr. Schoenewolf, a fine New York analyst and author of several articles and 15 books. Now, let’s get serious about this matter, stop overreacting to gay propaganda, and return to our scholarly senses. His essay, entitled, “Gay rights and political correctness: A brief history”, published by NARTH, was made out to be racist, and subsequently apologized for by NARTH. Dr. Schoenewolf is now seen as the “evil oppressor” he so talked about in his essay; how ironic? Actually, if you know Dr S, you will know he has reached Piaget’s fourth stage of development, unlike his gay critics, and can see through abstract and the complexity in things. In his essay, he said that life was “savage” in early Africa and “in many ways [slaves] were better off than they had been in Africa” The point was not that they were better off, the point was that in many ways, they were better off. This was not pointed out as subjective matter. He stated that it “could be pointed out” as another way of looking at the issue. Not that Schoenewolf, himself was endorsing one particular view. He even stated that there are “other points of views with respect to solving racial discrimination.” Finally, he stated that “This is not to say that the civil rights movement was or is wrong.” If the gays wanted to be critical, instead of calling him and NARTH racist, they should have asked him to elaborate, if anything. But no, they too take the Marxist route he so explained in the essay, in that “the Marxist view was superimposed on the race issue.” It’s so interesting that he even said in the essay that anyone “critical of political correctness must be misguided and hence evil, and labeled as [such]” Hence, the madness…. Dr. S is a brilliant man, and he should not be taken out of context, intimated by the gay left, and he should not be tainted, nor should NARTH over this whole issue.
You are giving Schoenewolf too much credit. I don’t believe that he was ignorant of the consequences of his statements.
Schoenewolf’s original article on the NARTH site discusses how he came to NARTH. His opinions had been subject to ridicule by all of his peers who found them to be mysogenistic, racist, and homophobic. But Nicolosi welcomed his views. And it was with this knowledge that others would find his words to be objectionable that Dr. Schoenewolf sat down and penned the infamous “better off” paragraph.
Someone who had never been criticized might just find himself in need of an editor when he strayed into accidental insults. This was not Schoenewolf.
He knew that equating Marxism and social movements such as those based on civil rights for blacks, women, and gays was an out-of-the-mainstream opinion. He knew that this would offend some, yet he persevered. Surely he knew that comments playing up the favorable aspects of slavery would raise eyebrows. That’s why he wrote it.
Shoenewolf showed his colors.
The question remains, however, how did the article get posted? Schoenewolf told Nicolosi about how he had been criticized. Joe knew that others found Schoenewolf’s beliefs to be suspect. He had been warned by none other than Schoenewolf himself.
I know that if someone came to me and said “Everyone thinks I’m anti-this or anti-that in my writing”, you can believe that I’d go over every word written before I let him anywhere near anything that reflected on me.
Did Nicolosi just forget, or did he share the positions staked out by Schoenewolf in his article?
You guys need to visit that freecongress.net site. http://www.freecongress.org/centers/cc/index.asp I’m telling you, the Schoenewolf article is a very illiterate rehash of the Bill Lind document on that site. Schoenewolf borrows phraseology and concepts that are there including that whole Marxist line of thought. IT’s practically plagiarism. Ed’s absolutely correct that Schoenewolf’s writing needs an editor and he may have “mis-spoke.” But in the sense that the Bill Lind article is blatantly racist, not to mention anti-Jewish, anti-gay, anti-affirmative action including anti-women in the workplace, those are the roots of the Schoenewolf article.
If you don’t want people digging up your dirt, don’t have dirt.
There’s one teensy little aspect of the article you appear to have missed: the entire thing is one gigantic strawman argument. There is no gigantic conspiracy of Marxist political correctness that has dominated the antislavery movement, the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and the gay rights movement. Schoenewolf had no evidence whatsoever to back up any of his assertions except for one article he pulled off a left wing website. Just as I do not hold the entire exgay movement to be embodied in Schoenewolf’s bigoted views, Schoenewolf should not rant about Marxism being responsible for all civil rights movements without actually having any… oh what’s that word… oh yeah; evidence. Just who exactly is it who’s been saying “European-Americans who had practiced slavery or segregation were viewed as all-bad and African-Americans were seen as all-good.”? Name me one civil rights organization which has stated that African Americans are “all-good.” Just one. (Rantings of fringe groups like the NOI don’t count) Who holds to this “we’re good, you’re bad” view of things he’s condemning? Please, I’d like to know.
No sane person would ever try to suggest that the horrors of slavery were better than life in the jungle.
You might better understand where Schoenewolf’s critics are coming from if you realized that was a pretty racist statement. (Hint: it has to do with that last word) As to what this all says about the NARTH website administrators and their readers, I could speculate that it says they’re so eager to demonize the gay rights movement they don’t really care who they end up in bed with, but that would be irresponsible speculation, don’t ya know.
Ed: It isn’t just a poor editing job in this case. The article is littered with poor scholarship which makes the entire effort insensitive and ineffective. The points about some men being all good and some being all bad are irrelevant to the premise of the article, to wit: civil rights, feminism and gay rights are all cut from the Marxist cloth. Why even juxtapose slaveowners and slaves as bad or good? What purpose does it serve? Of course, in the Christian conception, we all are sinners with a spark of the divine. How is this relevant to political correctness? The article and his and NARTH’s clumsy defenses of it are being savaged on their merits, not for reasons of digging dirt or political correctness.
But man, maybe I am not reading you right. So keep talking to me, you know I respect you highly.
I think you make a very good point Dr. Throckmorton that it is not just liberals (Southern Poverty Law Center) who have problems with Schoeenwolf’s comments. I take it that you do not see yourself as a liberal and you have obvious problems with his account of history.
Maybe I’m slow. Is NARTH apologizing for the article or defending it? If they are defending it, why did they remove it?
Wow… Schoenewolf and Nicolosi still just don’t get it. And it’s not really that hard to get. Besides the points Dr. Throckmorton brought up, Schoenewolf seems to be acting like a complete and utter coward to claim that criticism of his ideas somehow equates to squelching his right to speak them. I for one have absolutely no interest in shutting him up. I want him out there spouting this kind of stuff at the top of his lungs so there’s no doubt how ugly people like him really are. In fact, crying censorship the way he does seems to me to be the resort of an immature intellect employing precisely the tactics of “political correctness” he pretends to decry.
There’s also a lot more objectionable stuff in that article than just the slavery comments:
The irony is that the Civil Rights Movement has been vehement about pointing out the hysterical lynchings that took place in the old South, but completely blind to its own hysterical tactics.
If you happen to speak to Nicolosi or anyone at NARTH anytime soon, Dr. Throckmorton, perhaps you can ask them precisely how closely rhetoric equates to murder.
Does anyone at NARTH have access to either a history book or the internet? Schoenewolf’s ignorance is astounding but even more surprising is that NARTH let this article get on their site.
1. Africans were not sold into bondage by their countrymen. Africa is not one big country. They were captured by enemy tribes – and often by slavers themselves.
2. Most of Africa’s slavery was a direct result of the introduction of the slave trade by Europeans. It did exist in some African countries but not in a form even remotely similar.
3. Slaves taken to the Americas were not “better off” nor was there “some eventual good”. Or at least not in their lifetime nor that of their children or their children’s children.
To paraphrase this article: “When I said slaves were “better off”, what I really meant was that there were some good things about slavery. That’s all.”
I think this may well be NARTH self-delivered obituary.
There are always several ways to look at a controversy. Sadly, the one that is most often overlooked is the one that has an eye towards genuine understanding of intent.
It seems that for more than a year, Dr. Schoenewolf’s comments were out there with no firestorm of comments or criticisms. Does this mean that NARTH’s readers are all racists?
I don’t think so. I believe that Dr. Schoenewolf did mis-speak but that an audience that knew him understood what he was TRYING to say. It wasn’t until Boo went digging for dirt that this entire matter blew up. And when it didn’t blow up big enough and fast enough, NARTH’s enemies (yes, let’s call them what they are) kept fueling the fire until they got the firestorm they wanted.
Dr. Schoenewolf’s most unfortunate paragraph was an attempt to illustrate how EVERY person is a complex mix of good and evil. Both blacks and whites were culpable in the offense of slavery; to brand it as a ‘whites only’ crime only ignores the fact that blacks did indeed sell their own into slavery…and, in the history of slavery, we will find people who don’t fit our “all good, all bad” scenarios. There were slave-owners who really didn’t understand that slavery was wrong and who tried to ‘do right’ by their slaves and there were blacks who continued to exploit their fellow slaves to enhance their own position. To say all slave-owners were bad or evil is a misstatement. Likewise, to characterize all slaves as helpless victims is another. Good people are capable of doing bad things; bad people are capable of doing good things. When we oversimplify, we obscure this simple reality.
I believe that Dr. Schoenewolf was already feeling that his article was getting far too wordy and that he failed to close the paragraph (and the thought) properly…it is the last sentence that ‘hung him’ in many eyes. I do believe that he simply intended to convey that some white men (i.e. some of our founding fathers) weren’t evil-incarnate just because they were slaveowners. He mentioned that blacks were involved in selling other blacks into slavery, not to justify slavery in any way, but to demonstrate that there were grey areas on that side too. His biggest offense was in not conveying that the ‘better circumstances’ were ‘eventual’.
No sane person would ever try to suggest that the horrors of slavery were better than life in the jungle. Could it be that he thought his readers understood this? That they’d understand that he simply intended to say that now somehow a greater good has come from this terrible inhumanity?
I recall situations when I was writing for the ministry. I would try to keep in mind who our readers were and write in such a way that they’d get the point. As our readership broadened, I recall the frustration of ‘having to explain the obvious’…at the expense of more words in a limited space…simply for the benefit of those who had presuppositions about us and our beliefs. More than once I thought “but didn’t I just make that point last month?” but I was reminded that each essay stood on its own, that, for some, this might be the only essay they’d ever read. So, I had to ‘flesh things out’ often appearing redundant to our regular readers but covering our butts for the ‘just in case someone is reading for the first time’ scenario. I believe that Dr. Schoenewolf could benefit from some of these lessons and from the criticisms of a good editor. But, beyond that, I am appalled at the way he has been demonized here.
Ironically, this controversy obliterated the “Common Ground” thread that I felt was the most constructive thing to come out of this or any blog in a long time. With sadness I noted how many of the faithful bloggers ignored that thread but eagerly jumped into this venomous one. Alas, it’s always been easier to tear down than it has been to build.
Wow, it just goes from bad to worse…
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