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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Even Darker Side Of Putin's Anti-Gay Agenda

The trouble with isms is the people who pursue them. Such people tend to be purists. And because they are purists, they are exclusive. Why be a purist? One pursues purism for at least one of the following two reasons: control and glory. All to often, people seek control as a response to fear while people seek glory in order to feel significant.

Because of the above, the more one runs after an ism, the more one shuts out others from being insensitive to their sufferings to denying their contributions to vilifying them as monsters. The above applies to racism, nationalism, many ideologically based ism, and other kinds of isms.

Thus, we should include the above when examining Vladimir Putin, Russia's leader, and his anti-gay agenda. That is because two isms are being consistently associated with the anti-gay policies he supports in Russia. These two isms are conservatism and nationalism. And whether Putin is taking an opportunistic ride on the popularity, in Russia that is, of these two isms or he is a true believer, he has securely attached himself and his anti-gay-rights position to them.

Putin has described himself and Russia as the champions for conservative values. And he also explicitly rejects/resents Western liberalism's sometimes hypocritical attempts to impose its values on Russia in this matter. He says that this is a violation of Russia's democracy . 

Such a defense revives old memories of the South's response to the Civil Rights movement. "Mixing Is Communism" read some of the signs defending segregation and Jim Crow. The advantage that Civil Rights workers of the past had that today's Western Liberals don't was that there was a centralized authority to which the Southern states were answerable. So all Civil Rights workers had to do to start facilitating changes in the South was to gain the sympathies of enough federal lawmakers.

But today's world does not even consist of a confederation. That is because the world's strongest nation, the US, has followed the rule of force because it can. Thus, whatever moral force that the UN could exercise in this matter has been decimated. So the only outside pressure available to those concerned with the rights of gays consists of economic pressure through boycotts and political pressure through isolation. But such is unlikely since Russia has resources to sell and, with some legitimacy, been involved in mediating some of the world's hotspots. 

Another Russian reminder of the old South's resistance are laws used to punish and imprison those in the LBGT community and their activists. While Putin insists that there is equality regardless of sexual orientation and that his only concern is preventing children from being exposed to homosexual propaganda, the law is written with a lot of leeway given to law enforcement and vagueness for potential arrestees. So while Putin claims there is equality for all regardless of sexual orientation, an act that recognizes the need to placate dissent and save some face, LGBT activists who publicly state that homosexuality is not perversion are arrested and imprisoned. At the same time,  gays and LGBT activists have been beaten and even tortured with impunity.

In addition, Putin has recently announced a reversal in the birthrate of Russian children--a previous drop in Russia's birthrate was blamed on homosexuality (click here). This is described as being important for the future of Russia's growth. We should note that while the US has been recognized as the world's only superpower, in some ways, Russia has never ceased being a superpower. After all, how else would anyone describe a country whose nuclear arsenal could easily destroy the world many times over. Where they have failed to maintain their superpower status is their ability to project power throughout the world. But that is beginning to change.

It wasn't too long ago that America was considering deploying anti-ballistic missile site bases in NATO's eastern countries to which Russia responded with the threat of using tactical nuclear weapons in a first strike. Combine that with how Russia is now looking to play key roles in brokering international conflicts and hot spots, along with its new weapons programs, we are looking a nation that is seeking to restore some of its glory and control from the past. But at the same time, we should note the harshness with which it has met dissent at home and this has occurred long before the conviction and imprisonment of its oppositional artists, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina. As of 2010, 19 Russian journalists had been killed (click here) including Anna Politkovskaya. Today, Russia controls much of the media. We should also note Russia's past brutal treatment of Chechnya under Putin's leadership.

In order to reclaim power and prestige, unity is a necessity. And the more unity is desired, the more dissent and diversity are seen as Kryptonite. Putin is directing Russia to find that unity in the traditional values of conservatism and nationalism. We should note that combining strong-armed tacts with both a call to return to traditional values and nationalism was a trademark of Germany's Nazis. So we shouldn't be surprised that Russia's Neo-Nazis are the ones attacking gays and LGBT activists as well as Arabs, the latter has been occurring in the Ukraine. We should also note that gay rights activists have been attacked by those from the Russian Orthodox Church and "pro-Kremlin youth groups" (click here) . 

Putin is in the midst of another power grab. This can be seen not just in his domestic agenda, but in his foreign policies as well. And our concern here is that his anti-gay agenda indicates what we can expect from him in the future. And that future looks more ominous everyday because he has wrapped himself up in isms that are harshly excluding gays and others who are different in Russian society. And he doing that in ways that are reminiscent of an atrocity filled past.


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