Speaking at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee in February of this year, Mike Huckabee made not only the creepiest ‘joke’ of his political career, but the most overtly insensitive. Discussing the issue of transgenderism, Huckabee told the crowd of fellow fundamentalists:
“I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE….I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’ “
Coming from a comedian who wasn’t a fundamentalist bigot, the joke could potentially have been funny (although still very risky given the topic is incredibly sensitive). Instead, it came from a man who believes gay marriage will lead to the criminalization of Christianity. So while Huckabee can claim it was a joke, you know it really wasn’t.
Huckabee’s ‘joke’ came from intolerance and willful ignorance, not compassion and understanding. For a Christian, Huckabee is remarkably judgmental – a trait he should despise, not embrace if he takes the teachings of Christ seriously at all. And if Huckabee wants to learn how to better follow in the ways of his spiritual savior and not denigrate people who suffer immense emotional trauma due to gender identity issues, he should look no further than former president George W. Bush.
In 2003, Bush hosted a 25th reunion party for his Yale University classmates. When Bush had been at Yale in the late 1960’s, it had been an all-male school, but one of his classmates became a woman after sex change surgery. According to the story, the woman was not entirely sure how to introduce herself to the President, so nervously said: “You might remember me as Peter when we left Yale…” Without blinking, Bush interjected, “And now you’ve come back as yourself.”
It’s a heartwarming story and sheds a different light on the character of the president who at least politically, was no friend to the LGBT community. This isn’t to excuse his politics on the issue, but at least Bush had the decency to treat his transgender friend with respect and compassion – something Huckabee doesn’t seem to believe she would be worthy of.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.