Mao’s Red Guards and Obama’s Rainbow Guards

I’m sure your Facebook feed has by now been flooded with rainbow profile pics by the status signaling hordes in honor of the Supreme Court’s ruling a few days ago that same sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right (despite the fact that there has always been marriage equality).

As I read the comments and discussions on the topic, my brain has exploded from the amount of anti-religious bigotry and outright hatred I’ve read, how completely uninformed and irrational the discussion is, and how it all takes place, ostensibly, in the name of love.

I’ve noticed a disturbing historical parallel as well. In 1966, when Mao Zedong was launching his Cultural Revolution, he stood in front of a massive gathering of Red Guards in Tiananmen Square to declare his support for their movement. He appeared in their olive green uniform, which he didn’t usually wear, as a show of solidarity. The rally culminated with a young girl coming up to the Chairman and putting the Red Guard arm band on his arm, thus signalling that the campaign of violence and destruction they were to embark upon had the backing of the state.

The Red Guards ransacked libraries and museums and destroyed ancient temples and historical records. They moved on to attacking and killing teachers and business owners and they staged public “struggle sessions” where they intimidated and beat wrong-thinking people into confessing their thought crimes. All in the name of Progress and Utopianism.

When President Obama lit the White House up in rainbow lights, he sent a signal to all would be Rainbow Guards that their current rampage of psychological and moral violence against decency, history, and American ideals, values and culture now enjoys state backing. And nothing gives a movement more momentum. We now have talk of taking down memorials, erasing history, shutting down dissenting businesses, renaming streets and buildings, going after religious organizations’ tax-exempt status and mandating they perform certain functions, and outlawing “hate speech.” We also have our own version of the struggle session that takes place on social media, perhaps most notably with the Brendan Eich affair. All in the name of Progress and Utopianism.

I realize I risk blowing this out of proportion, and I know of course the scale and quality of violence and destruction of the Rainbow Guards and the Red Guards are not comparable. I’m sure most people who use the rainbow filter are well-intentioned. There are many people who have no idea what’s going on and are just being trendy. And, I don’t think the Rainbow Guards will get physically violent – the government will do the work for them administratively. But in principle, the same hysteria has taken hold, and the damage done to our civil society will not be easily repaired.

The rainbow profile pic is the new armband of the Rainbow Guard.

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