I actually agree
with Charlotte Allen (of How Dumb Can We Get
fame) about something
. I don't think I know who I am anymore.
I have tried to see it their way. I'm a gay leftist who loves to boycott things, so you would think I would agree. But after reading several letters and documents about the controversy surrounding the American Political Science Association's decision to hold a meeting in New Orleans, I still believe the proposed boycott is silly and counterproductive.
Advocates of the boycott claim that gays and lesbians would not "feel safe" in New Orleans. But I lived in the conservative south for many years, so I have to roll my eyes when I read that these academics refuse to spend three days
in a southern state -- especially in the relatively tolerant city of New Orleans.
The focus on gay rights also seems incredibly myopic in light of Katrina. Whatever injustices gays and lesbians face due to the LA constitution, the black community has faced far worse in the aftermath of Katrina. If holding a convention in a particular city is truly an endorsement of the state's economic, legal, and social policies, then there is a lot more to boycott than the treatment of gays and lesbians.
The scenario repeatedly raised by the boycotters is that someone could die in the hospital while the gay partner is denied access -- a scenario that is incredibly unlikely. Besides, anyone who is single, or leaves his or her partner at home, or travels with a friend or a significant other who is not a spouse, might also die in the hospital alone -- in any city. Yet we travel anyway because the risk of sudden fatal injury is very small, and because with non-fatal injuries and illnesses, you can make arrangements and transfers after the initial hospitalization. If three days in New Orleans is really so terrible and risky, you have to wonder why gay couples voluntarily live there for decades.
New Orleans is an important city where injustices involving issues of race, class, and sexuality have played out dramatically over the past few years. An APSA conference could be an opportunity to engage all of those issues, while giving academics an opportunity to see the city up close. It's great if you live in cushy Massachusetts with an academic job and a legal gay marriage, but most of the country is not so lucky. And when you won't condescend to even spend three days in the rest of America -- where black people, gay people, poor people, and homeless people spend their entire lives -- I think it's ridiculous.
So, I am stuck agreeing with Charlotte Allen. Fuck.