Friday, March 14, 2014

A Rare Case of Political Correctness on the Left

Ezra Klein
Accusing the left of demanding political correctness has been a bogus claim for years. No one has a more constricted pattern of political correctness than the far right. Witness the right's fanatical obedience to the NRA. If you're a conservative who's in favor of gun control, it's the same thing as saying "term-limit me now, friends."

So seeing a case of political correctness on the left is actually a rare event, but I think I've found one that deserves some comment.

I've been a fan of Ezra Klein since I discovered his blogging back in, I don't know, the Jurassic Period of political blogging. Sometimes lately I've had quibbles with his views -- which means I think he's swerved rightward, on entitlements for example, when he shouldn't have -- but ordinarily he's done admirable work.

Since he got too big for his britches -- or so the Washington Post must have thought -- he's been at work preparing his own media site at And just the other day, he announced the hiring of Brandon Ambrosino, a young, openly gay writer I'd never heard of. Ambrosino would be joining the crew at

All hell broke loose. Ambrosino had apparently written several pieces that some found offensive, among them Media Matters, a website I've admired for years because of their tireless work against the misinformation meisters on the right. Attacking someone of the left is rare, but Media Matters made an exception with Ambrosino.

Brandon Ambrosino
Of Ambrosino's pieces, I found his reminiscences of Liberty University one piece that he should have skipped -- saying "but Jerry Falwell was nice to me" hardly cleans up that man's hateful reputation -- and his other pieces make it clear that he's not interested in claiming any space as a leftist writer. However, his piece on Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson -- also roundly condemned -- made some sense to me.

Ambrosino held that we're generally jumping up and down in praise of our new Pope Francis, because he seems to be, if not gay-friendly, then at least not ready to burn them at the stake as previous popes have been. "Who am I to judge?" asks humble Francis.

But we jump up and down condemning Louisiana yokel Phil Robertson for being a yokel, someone "born that way." Ambrosino's point was that Robertson and our new Pope held precisely the same views on homosexuality, only Phil embellished his views with the hillbilly tongue. So Phil's a bigot and Pope Francis is our New Hero?

I get it, Brandon. You're sort of right. Wish you weren't, but...

Another Ambrosino piece, this time on why he doesn't do gay-pride parades, is in a similar vein. His point is that he wants to engage people on the right as equals, not as queer but as someone who's gay but also believes in God and holds many of the same family values that the right claims exclusive rights to. Again, I get it. You're sort of right. When gays march in their buttless chaps, they're saying "we're queer, we're here." What Ambrosino wants to say is "I'm queer, I'm your next door neighbor, want to come over for some coffee and meet my kids?"

(I often wonder as I drive by San Francisco's gay-friendly Castro District, given the great strides forward gays have made, whether they even need their own neighborhood anymore. You're welcome in mine!)

Ezra Klein has already made some mea culpas, saying he didn't hire Ambrosino to be's LGBT writer-in-residence but for his general writing skills and outlook. Time will tell how this all works out.

I suggest we all do a half-chill on this guy. By the way, whatever controversy erupted around Brandon Ambrosino, he's probably fine with it. I hadn't the faintest idea who he was until this brouhaha, a situation no doubt many people were in just a few days ago. Now we're all clicking on links to his articles.

Well played, Brandon. Good luck. It's a jungle out there in the blogosphere.

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