On Sunday night I went to hear Dan Savage speak about the It Gets Better Project. The last time I saw him was 2003, if memory serves, in front of a crowd of perhaps a hundred. At one point Savage took a break from promoting his new book Skipping Toward Gomorrah to refer his audience to the now-famous New Republic cover story "The Liberal Case for War" (against Iraq). It was a good talk, funny and engaging, and it made a striking contrast with his Sunday appearance.
About 15 years ago I was a guest at the annual meeting of the Association of Christians Teaching Sociology. In one session a professor reported on a student's project. Taking the Century as a barometer of mainline Protestantism and Christianity Today as a barometer of evangelicalism, his student compared the respective responses to the civil rights movement. The student found that the Century was very hospitable toward the movement and that CT was critical of it. (Full disclosure: At the time of this ACTS meeting, I was working for CT.) Since ACTS is comprised largely of evangelical scholars, there was some hanging of heads in the room. Evangelicals, they agreed, had been on the wrong side of history, not to speak of the wrong side of justice.
Martha Nussbaum's perspective cuts to the heart of our tendency to exclude others when they fail to live up to expectations about how "good people" should be.
It may seem hyperbolic for the Southern Poverty Law Center to add large and highly visible advocacy organizations to the list of hate groups it monitors. But not all hate comes from the fringe.