In George Conger’s “The moral (and news) authority of Desmond Tutu”, GetReligion exercises what moral and journalistic authority it has today to announce that Desmond Tutu’s better days have past and he is a “historical figure” important for his work decades ago and a mere “celebrity”. This is there way of speaking in “journalistic code” that they resent the fact that newsrooms treat the American civil rights fight, the anti-apartheid fight, and the gay rights fight as comparable, when they would much rather see a firm line separating the racial struggles with the gays’ rights.
And so it is GetReligion that finds itself a lonely voice, the resentment of the anti-gay religionism strained of its overtly theological nature and funneled into a narrow channel of criticizing the press for not realizing Tutu is basically a “has-been” and demanding that evidence be cited of how much he is not “universally beloved”. I’m sure the U.S. and U.K. news media had something to do with Tutu’s image, but George is missing the angle. In super-anti-gay Africa, where religion is largely a force of hostility to the gay rights struggle, Tutu is a lonely voice speaking the conscience of the world — and the voice of God — to a people oppressed by homophobia even if many of them don’t know it.
That makes him a powerful moral figure towering high in the present, not just the past, according to a reasonable standard. Conger makes this mistake presumably because his moral worldview is rooted in Amber traditional opposition to gay rights and he just “doesn’t get” the Orange modernist / Green pluralist perspectives, so he wants to push skepticism of gay rights into the press through the backdoor.
Arguably the former Archbishop’s moral authority and influence is becoming greater now than ever before, and it matters not that he is not “universally beloved”. Prophets seldom are. History will judge, and inclinations are that it is moving rapidly in the direction of understanding that gay rights is part of the human liberation struggle.