Fighting Putin Internationally

This certainly seemed like a worthwhile idea:

In response to the passage of anti-gay laws in Russia—and subsequent clashes between police and gay activists there—some Chicago gay bars are pulling Russian vodka and other spirits from their offerings in protest.

But there are those who make a strong argument otherwise:

Stoli sent out an open letter Thursday, declaring its support for gay rights, mentioning its history of activity within the gay community in America and other countries. But, Dan Savage posted, this isn’t enough. What are they doing about about the suffering of gays in Russia? Scheffler is one of Russia’s richest men!

There’s a big Western bias in this argument, assuming that Russia’s corporatism is like America’s or Europe’s corporatism. Because Scheffler’s rich, he must have some sort of government influence! There must be something he can do! … It doesn’t take that much research to see how difficult a position Scheffler is in. Russia wants [to renationalize] his company.

In any event, we can agree that Putin is a totalitarian brute at the head of an increasingly fascistic regime eager to terrorize and scapegoat gay people, not to mention allow Russian orphans to rot in monstrous state facilities rather than let any Americans, or same-sex couples anywhere, adopt them.

This, however, is inspiring. The Russian regime should face public opprobrium at every opportunity.

More. Aren’t we glad that Hillary and Obama “reset” this relationship.

Furthermore. Watching the American religious right embrace Putin and hold Russia up as a model is fascinating and appalling. More here.

Still more. The Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 are looking more and more like the German Summer Olympics of 1936.

20 Comments for “Fighting Putin Internationally”

  1. posted by Tim on

    Communism and socialism always morph into some form of fascism.

    • posted by Don on

      Actually, fascism is a plague of the right. Communism is its counterpart on the left. They’re both really bad. But they are far from the same thing. And no, one doesn’t morph into the other. They are competing ideologies that, by definition, are incompatible.

      • posted by Tim on

        The whole right/left issue is a bogeyman. The real issue is individual liberty versus statism (in all its form). Communism and fascism are not incompatible, just variations on a theme – the state is supreme. The façade of the communist/socialist workers’ international blah, blah,… gives way to the ruling class just continuing to give lip service to it, perhaps. China and Vietnam are prime examples.

        The differences are trivial. Communism is such a stupid, destructive economic system that the ruling class is forced to change to fascism, just to stay in power. Communists, stupidly, just execute the factory owner when they come to power. The fascists let the owner keep his name on the front door; they just control him through regulations and laws. The effect is essentially the same.

        Liberty versus statism – that is the true issue, not left/right, dem/rep, etc.

  2. posted by Kosh III on

    We are well on the way to Fascism; which are we?

    When did Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia become fascist?

  3. posted by Mike n Houston on

    The LGBT market segment in the US has an estimated buying power of about $1T… Factor in that of the European LGBT community and (potentially) our allies and we can hit Putin where it hurts the most: money.

  4. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    The Russian regime should face public opprobrium at every opportunity.

    Absolutely. And so should governments, political and religious organizations, and companies in our own country that promote similar policies in the United States and abroad.

    Why, for example, aren’t the bans on same-sex couple adoption in Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin provoking outrage? Aren’t those laws as harmful as Russia’s ban? Or the effort to enact “Don’t say gay” laws in several states? Aren’t those efforts to “ban gay propaganda”?

    We need to fight at both home and abroad. However, we need to be mindful of a principle John Kennedy articulated in another time:

    We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is the land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettos, no master race except with respect to Negroes?

    We should be promoting equality throughout the world. But so long as we tolerate inequality at home, we are not credible.

  5. posted by Don on

    I’m just sitting back thinking “when did Putin and the GOP get on the same page?” Does this mean evangelicals are communists?

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      To me, it doesn’t make a difference whether it is the government in Russia or the government in Wisconsin banning adoption by gay and lesbian couples. And it doesn’t make a difference whether it is the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia or the Catholic/Evangelical hegemony (hat tip to Stephen) in Wisconsin that is providing the religious motivation for the law. The result is identical.

      Has anyone else noticed the similarity in reasoning between President Putin and the social conservatives in this country? It is striking.

  6. posted by Houndentenor on

    I guess we are all in agreement that in America if you have enough money you can buy almost any law you want. That may or may not be true in Russia, so it may not be fair to single out one company for a boycott. However, this does seem to be getting some buzz which sadly pictures of abused and assaulted gay people in Russia didn’t get from our corporate media. The main point of something like a boycott is the attention to the issue, and that seems to be having some affect.

  7. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    More. Aren’t we glad that Hillary and Obama “reset” this relationship.

    I’m glad (I don’t know about the “we” in this instance, since I can’t speak for you) that the State Department and Obama administration have frequently and consistently issued statements condemning the spate of anti-gay laws in Russia.

    I wish that the administration would go further, and seek Congressional authorization to sanction Russia because of its violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I don’t know if Congress would authorize such action , but that is what I think should be done.

  8. posted by Jorge on

    Wait, so Russian vodka is owned by a private businessman who is about to have his business nationalized. So that means in a few months it will make perfect sense to boycott Russian vodka.

    What the ****? I don’t even drink! Give us a bigger sledgehammer to hit Russia with.

    I say if you are going to do a boycott, let it hurt someone. The rich guy will golden parachute his way to safety (yeah, so what) while his workers lose their jobs, crippling the economy (paydirt!).

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Give us a bigger sledgehammer to hit Russia with.

      A formal sanction of Russia for violating Articles 26 and 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (UN 1966) might not be a “sledgehammer”, but it would be a step in the right direction.

      A sanction might open us up to a charge of hypocrisy, though, given the similar laws in a number of our states, and I doubt that Congress would authorize a sanction in any event. Opposition to LGBT adoption and support for “Don’t Say Gay” laws remain strong enough among some quarters in the United States to almost certainly block formal action.

      We could also, perhaps, work with our allies in the EU to put pressure on Russia, or perhaps with the UN, condemning Russia for violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Action taken in concert with other countries might be more effective than a stand-alone sanction by the United States. As is the case with a stand-alone sanction, though, I think that it would be hard to get anything through Congress.

      The available news reports suggest that the situation in Russia is complex — a combination of leftover 1950’s-style homosexual repression, religious pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church, and an attempt by President Putin to exploit fear and loathing of homosexuals for short-term political gain. While all of those factors are familiar to us in the United States, I think that it would be a mistake to assume that Russia operates by Western standards and/or would be susceptible to Western pressure.

      In the long run, we might be most effective if we put serious money into UN efforts to promote equality. Russia is not the only country in the world that represses gays and lesbians.

      • posted by Jorge on

        I don’t think the letter of Russia’s law violates Articles 26 and 27, only the spirit of it. They do not include sexual orientation. Now I am saying this without the benefit of knowing whether an international court has interpreted them to include sexual orientation, but I doubt it.

        Your statement that there are “similar laws in a number of our states” is completely baseless. First, there are no laws in the United States that criminalize gay “propaganda.”

        Second, because all of the state and federal courts uphold the US Constitution, whose provisions exceed Articles 26 and 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United States is upholding this treaty. To the extent that there are any laws in the United States that are alleged to deny equal protection under the law or that deny minorities the right to practice their own culture, religion, or language, they may be challenged by any lawful complaintant in a state or federal court of law and submitted to a fact-finding hearing as to whether or not they do in fact deny these rights. Because of this process, and absent any proof of its lack of integrity, any accusation that there are in fact laws in the United States that violate Articles 26 and 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights must be referred on a case-by-case basis to the appropriate state or federal court in the United States for a lawful disposition on the merits, or else dismissed outright. I just realized what a terrific double-edged sword this argument is.

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          Agreed. I hate these false equivalency arguments. Yes, we don’t have the gay rights across the US that we should, but that’s in no way comparable to what is going on in Russia. They legally hold gay pride parades and have gay bars in red states. It’s not nearly the same thing.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            I would point out, gently, that:

            (1) “Similar” does not mean “equivalent”. Never has, doesn’t and never will.

            (2) Jack Kennedy had a point, and it is as good a point today as it was 50 years ago.

  9. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Darn it, hope I didn’t break the page with that unclosed link…

  10. posted by TomJeffersonIII on

    Russia has a rather nasty history with records to gay people and many other minorities (Jewish people for example). Originally, the gay male sex ban — in Russia — was largely based on conservative religious principles. But if you were on pretty friendly terms with the czarist monarchy, the authorities tended to look the other way.

    The Soviets did — initially — lift the criminal bad within Russia itself, but kept it in their other Soviet states as part of a campaign to ‘civilize’ foreign people. Stalin extended it throughout Russia and it was only lifted (in 1993) under orders from the EU that Russia had to meet a minimum human rights standard or else not be a EU member (not unlike the United Federation of Planets…).

    None of the post-Soviet parties expressed any support for gay rights at all. (at least from what I gather). Basically, very few straight allies in Russia, no political clout from any gay rights group (or financial resources for that matter) and about the only Russians that talk about gay rights in Russia tend to be gay and — from what I hear — prejudice against Jews and gays is pretty high and wide spread in Russia.

    The Russian Constitution does not have many strong protections for democracy/civil rights/liberties (in general) and the economy is somewhere between the Wild West and a Godfather….yeah basically the anti-gay campaign is one of the many horrible things to happen in Russia since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

    I doubt — because of Russia’s military and economic position in Europe — it face too many substantial EU consequences for its anti-gay campaign.

    Russia never got around to adopting basic anti-discrimination laws (for employment, education, etc.) that include sexual orientation — which is also a requirement for EU members. They did suffer serious consequences.

    On some level it helps Putin (with Russians) to be on ‘bad’ terms with the American President, just as it helps President Obama (with Americans) (or his admin) be on ‘bad’ terms with Putin.

    Putin is probably no more homophobic then the general Russian population. He just knows that pandering to such bias is helpful in being seen as a ‘legit’ (“I am protecting God, kids and church morality”) leader.

    It can also be helpful in making what organized dissent still exists in Russia seem illegitimate in the eyes of this bigotry (“Liberals and Social Democrats and libertarians are bad. They are decadent tools of the west”) and if they (the liberal or democratic left opposition) defend the bigotry, then they lose credibility within the international community.

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