Last month, when Marine Le Pen refused to put on a headscarf for a meeting with Lebanon's “Grand Mufti,” a friend of mine, whom I'll call Dave, commended her for it on Facebook. Dave, as it happens, is a Manhattan liberal who voted for Hillary Clinton, despises Donald Trump, and thinks Le Pen is a fascist. But he's also a gay man who's very clear-eyed about the danger of Islam, especially to gay people, and who is angry at the left, both in the U.S. and Europe, for appeasing the Religion of Peace. And so he gave Le Pen a thumbs-up for her gutsy action.
Since Dave's own friends list consists almost exclusively of other big-city liberal types, he was immediately savaged for his post on Le Pen. One of them wrote that just because Muslim women decide to cover their hair or body doesn't mean they're oppressed, and added that Le Pen, by refusing to wear a headscarf, wasn't standing up for women but simply “trying to spread hate” towards Islam. Another of Dave's friends agreed: Le Pen “didn't behave properly.” So did another: “This woman is not a feminist, she is a fa[s]cist.” Several more comments were along the same lines. Many of Dave's friends were livid at him for even daring to compliment Le Pen and criticize Islam.
In response to his friends' complaints, Dave tried to play the gay-rights card, explaining to them that if they accepted the Muslim rule that women need to don a veil to meet a mufti or enter a mosque, they also had to accept the Muslim requirement that gay people – people such as himself – be stoned to death. Plainly, Dave expected that this argument would win the day with his oh-so-liberal, oh-so-gay-friendly friends. But it didn't. On the contrary, their responses made it clear that they'd fully accepted the current progressive pecking order among officially recognized oppressed groups: gays (especially affluent gay American males such as Dave) are at the bottom of the ladder; Muslims are at the very top. Which means that when gays criticize Islam, a decent progressive is supposed to scream “Islamophobe"; but when Muslims drop gays to their deaths off the roofs of buildings, one is expected to look away and change the topic.
Of course, plenty of gays don't share Dave's critical attitude toward Islam. They've bought into the idea that they and Muslims are fellow members of the oppression brigade. Either they're unaware that sharia law prescribes execution for gays and that a large majority of Western Muslims are totally okay with that, or they've allowed themselves to be convinced that Muslims today don't care any more about Islamic law than most Christians or Jews do about Leviticus. Or, even more worrisome, they've worked out some Orwellian way of knowing the truth while at the same time not knowing it. So it is that we end up seeing grotesquely absurd pictures of gay people waving banners that decry Islamophobia or that declare gay solidarity with Palestine.