Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Homophobic killings and hypocrisy

Thirteen years ago I joined a gay-conservative listserv on the Internet, consisting of about 60 members. I had never regarded myself as a conservative and found to my pleasant surprise that there were several other centrist (and liberal) members of the group. We were united by our common exasperation with the insufferable smugness and intolerance of the gay left, which had for so long dominated the Movement. Alongside this trend stood the “official” gay groups. These had no viable ideology at all, except for raising money and cosying up to the Democratic Party. No matter how much that Party ignored us, the official gays were determined to hang on. We see this sycophancy even today, when those folks urge “patience,” even though Obama has failed to deliver on any of his campaign promises to us.

For their part, the gaycons were uniformly in favor of the Iraq War. I tried ceaselessly to warn them against this stance, but my erstwhile friends were plugged into the DC establishment, and freely parroted the groupthink prevalent there.

The breaking point came when the double standard of the group became glaringly obvious.

In several newspapers and on his site direland.typepad.com, the independent journalist Doug Ireland had meticulously documented the state-sponsored executions of gays in Iran. For the gaycons, of course, Iran was a rogue state, so one could expect nothing good there.

When I reminded my little group of the death squads that were killing gays next door in Iraq, the gaycons wanted none of it. They would have had to admit that the US invasion and occupation of that country had been a disaster for women, Christians, and especially for gays.

As the US presence diminishes in Iraq, the peril that gay men face there has only worsened. An article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, provides some gruesome details (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/13/iraq-gays-murdered-militias.)

The Muslim extremist groups use young militants with computer training to hunt down gays on chat rooms on the Internet. "It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," one said. Once the targets are found, arrangements are made to attack and sometimes kill them. The groups now active are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone. With a stream of homophobic epithets, the deputy leader of one Baghdad group explained its campaign. "Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practice such sexual depraved acts," he told a reporter. "We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed."

It has been suggested that the violence may be a consequence of the success of the government of Nuri al-Maliki. As militia groups see that their earlier function of providing local security is no longer needed they “shift their focus to the moral and cultural sphere, reverting to classic Islamist tactics of policing moral boundaries," one observer remarked.

Under Saddam Hussein same-sex behavior was not criminalized, though there was repression, as occurs throughout the Arab world. Violence against gays started in the aftermath of the invasion in 2003. Since 2004, according to Ali Hali, chairman of the Iraqi LGBT Group, a human-rights organization based in London, no fewer than 680 gay men are known to have died in Iraq, at least 70 of those in the past five months. Actually, the figures may be higher, as most cases involving married men are not reported. Seven victims were women.

Rumor has it that the police are involved, but these reports have been denied.

In recent days I received an email from a leftist gay group, noting only the killings in Iraq. This is the mirror image of the blindness of my gaycon friends. The lefties only want to hear about homophobic atrocities in Iraq, which are indeed terrible. They take this selective approach because their template is that all the troubles in the world are due to US “imperialism.” If only we would refrain, all would be well.. (As in Darfur, the Congo, Burma, North Korea, and other such shining paragons of Third World virtue.)

Since gays are being killed in Iran and Palestine, where there is no US presence, this cannot be the key variable. The essential factor is of course the fanaticism of Islamist extremists. Yet the left--and multiculturalists in general--are reluctant to criticize any aspect of Islam.

And of course they cling to their “blame America first” demonology. I would be glad if the US were less active in intervening throughout the world, but this would not mean that conditions would improve in most places. Kleptocracy and repression are rampant in much of the Third World.

Moreover, from Karl Marx to Hugo Chavez, the hard left has a long history of homophobia. That record is nothing to be proud of.

So why not just stop looking at these comments from both the right and the left? The reason I pay attention to them is that I have become disillusioned with the mainstream media. As a resident of New York City, I find that I am obliged to read the New York Times. But after that newspaper allowed the appalling Judith Miller free reign with her incendiary stories about Saddam’s Iraq, I no longer trust that newspaper--or indeed any of the establishment prints.

The only remedy is to get your information from as many sources as you can.



Blogger Burk said...

Right on- I hear you loud and clear. For all the blood and treasure, there is precious little we can do to truly change another culture. We may leave Iraq slightly more West-friendly than we found it, (or less ... it really isn't clear), but we do have to leave. It is highest time to clear out and leave Iraqis to their own de-vices.

And the same goes for Afghanistan, an even more backward culture where the recent election was treated as some kind of sick theater of corruption. I'd agree that we should try, as we did in Iraq, to set up some minimally working system. But that could be pretty primitive, involving a tribal confederation rather than a sparkly national government.

For the gay movement, not much will come of relying on our government. Our own military is hardly a model organization in that regard! It might be more useful to do direct culturally-aware outreach to other countries to promote a liberal agenda. Such as through NGOs.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe gays are being killed in Tel Aviv too. Wherever religious intolerance and political authoritarianism are found, scapegoats are a frequent target. In fact, I could have sworn Bush and Rove made gays their target in the 2004 and 2006 elections, as Mormons made gays their target in 2008.

But the Democrats, alas, have shown no spine to fulfill their empty promises. Rhetoric of promises, versus rhetoric of hate, I guess is to be preferred to lynchings. Liberalism has a different preference: Liberty, Equality, and Justice under the Rule of Law. Boy, we're not even close to remaining a liberal state.

11:47 AM  

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