The New Republic has retracted and apologized for a widely-criticized article in which the author attacked South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is gay, as “Mary Pete” for accepting American cultural norms and “neoliberal” ideas.
In the piece, published last Friday (and archived here), author Dale Peck — who is also gay — referred to Buttigieg as “Mary Pete” and criticized him for his “white male privilege” as well as his alleged acceptance of “neoliberal” moderation:
Mary Pete and I are just not the same kind of gay. (For those of you wondering about “Mary Pete”: a couple of months ago I asked Facebook what the gay equivalent of Uncle Tom was, and this was the answer at which we collectively arrived.)
Mary Pete is a neoliberal and a Jeffersonian meritocrat, which is to say he’s just another unrepentant or at least unexamined beneficiary of white male privilege who believes (just as Jay Inslee believes he’s done more for women’s reproductive rights than Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar) that he can make life better for all those people who are not like him, not because he knows anything about their lives but because he’s smart and nice and well-meaning, and when smart nice well-meaning people run things everything works out for the best.
All this makes Mary Pete different from every other left-leaning neoliberal in exactly zero ways. Because let’s face it. The only thing that distinguishes the mayor of South Bend from all those other well-educated reasonably intelligent white dudes who wanna be president is what he does with his dick (and possibly his ass, although I get a definite top-by-default vibe from him, which is to say that I bet he thinks about getting fucked but he’s too uptight to do it). So let’s dish the dish, homos. You know and I know that Mary Pete is a gay teenager. He’s a fifteen-year-old boy in a Chicago bus station wondering if it’s a good idea to go home with a fifty-year-old man so that he’ll finally understand what he is. He’s been out for, what, all of four years, and if I understand the narrative, he married the first guy he dated. And we all know what happens when gay people don’t get a real adolescence because they spent theirs in the closet: they go through it after they come out. And because they’re adults with their own incomes and no parents to rein them in they do it on steroids (often literally). If Shortest Way Home (I mean really, can you think of a more treacly title?) makes one thing clear, Mary Pete was never a teenager. But you can’t run away from that forever. Either it comes out or it eats you up inside. It can be fun, it can be messy, it can be tragic, it can be progenitive, transformative, ecstatic, or banal, but the last thing I want in the White House is a gay man staring down 40 who suddenly realizes he didn’t get to have all the fun his straight peers did when they were teenagers. I’m not saying I don’t want him to shave his chest or do Molly or try being the lucky Pierre (the timing’s trickier than it looks, but it can be fun when you work it out). These are rites of passage for a lot of gay men, and it fuels many aspects of gay culture. But like I said, I don’t want it in the White House. I want a man whose mind is on his job, not what could have been—or what he thinks he can still get away with.
The New Republic issued an apology: “Dale Peck’s post ‘My Mayor Pete Problem’ has been removed from the site, in response to criticism of the piece’s inappropriate and invasive content. We regret its publication.”
Editor in chief Win McCormack issued a personal and public apology to Buttigieg.
Political reporter Josh Lederman of NBC News noted the apparent irony that the first homophobic attacks on Buttigieg had come from the left, not the right.
Ironically, the New Republic was known for moderate leftist (or “neoliberal”) positions until it was purchased by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in 2012. After pushing the magazine in a hard-core left-wing direction — and losing much of the staff — Hughes sold it again in 2016.
The New York Times published an extensive article Sunday in which it explored Buttigieg’s long suppression of his homosexuality; he “came out” four years ago, at the age of 33.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.