The “Pinkwashing” Lie

Mark Joseph Stern writes at Slate that The LGBTQ Left Has an Anti-Semitism Problem:

The concept of pinkwashing is extraordinarily insulting. It presumes that the Israeli government has no interest in promoting LGBTQ rights except to help mask its oppression of other groups. This presumption is totally unique to Israel. Nobody thought that France was attempting to distract from its terrible mistreatment of Roma immigrants when it legalized same-sex marriage. Nobody thought that South Africa was diverting attention from the painful, enduring remnants of apartheid when it gained marriage equality. Yet many LGBTQ activists freely impute to Israel a malign motive in expanding rights to sexual minorities.

More. This story has legs, and is leading to some interesting self-analysis by the LGBTQ left.

This includes a heartfelt letter to Task Force executive director Rea Carey that was co-signed by numerous (albeit overwhelmingly Jewish) LGBT activists and thought leaders, stating in part:

We also believe that the Task Force as well as all other LGBTQ organizations need to consider and adopt some form of an “active pluralism” policy with respect to these issues. Such a policy, while respecting the free speech rights of individuals and groups, would not allow protesters to effectively censor the speech of other groups, much less threaten the physical well-being and safety of those with whom they do not agree, including Jewish and Israeli LGBTQ groups. Given the concentrated and organized hostility that is so often displayed against Jewish and Israeli LGBTQ groups, and the stark rise in global anti-Semitism, it is even more important that we as a community promote civil and respectful debate.

A nice piece in the Washington Post by liberal Jonathan Capehart comments on video of the anti-Israeli protestors chanting,“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

Writes Capehart, “Those words are alarming because Palestine can’t get ‘from the river to the sea’ without wiping the Jewish state off the map.” Well, that’s the idea.

At the Huffington Post, Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, blogs that:

The Creating Change conference is, like it or not, a business. Their customer base is now college students subsidized by their LGBTQ centers who are immersed in intersectionality, microaggressions and trigger warnings, and other forms of queer theory chic. One friend described it as students suffering from micro-aggressions getting macro-angry.

Beyer also quotes a letter to Carey from Tony Varona, a law professor at American University and former legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, in which he observes:

I’ve also found that the messages from the plenaries and sessions so far have been much more akin to the amorphous, sometimes incoherent “radical chic” anarchy-light demands of the Occupy movement than the much more substantive, productive, tangible resource-building messages of past Creating Changes, and as you might know, I’ve been to a bunch of Creating Changes since I was on staff at HRC (between ’97 and ’02).

I’ve heard much more about the abolition of prisons, police, borders and the state itself — really, the abolition of authority of any kind — at this Creating Change, than I have about grassroots lobbying and GOTV [get out the vote] work. In fact I’ve heard nothing of the latter. I’ve heard much more about who does not belong at Creating Change, who should be silenced, and who should be excluded from or pushed out of the tent, than I’ve heard about the importance of diversity and inclusion. Yet isn’t diversity, unity, inclusion, and conversation what Creating Change has long been about?

Many of the responses point to the problem of political intolerance (yes, “political correctness”) that’s come to dominate life on U.S. campuses of late. Students are indoctrinated into an ideology that justifies mob tactics to silence the expression of views deemed insufficiently progressive (and anyone else’s views are in constant danger of being declared by the mob to be insufficiently progressive).

Here’s hoping this self-examination on the left will lead to positive change.

11 Comments for “The “Pinkwashing” Lie”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Enjoy the discussion among yourselves. Just don’t forget to look in the mirror.

  2. posted by Houndentenor on

    I don’t think it’s quite this simple. In the US I think this is more a result of the ridiculous binary nature of our politics. Since conservatives are pro-Israel, the default position for many liberals is therefore pro-Palestinian. Never mind that there are complicated issues and neither side in that struggle is either always right nor always wrong. I don’t think actual antisemitism is a factor in the US on the left. In Europe where antisemitism has a long history mostly just under the surface (and sometimes quite blatant) the situation is somewhat different. I agree, however, that the “pinkwashing” charge is complete garbage. And I’ll say again…if leftists are upset that people point out that the Muslim countries are terrible on lbgt (and just about every other human rights) issues, then they should work towards changing that, not dismissing real advances in other countries. Also, the idea that people in certain countries are too oppressed to move forward on equal rights for women, gays, religious minorities and others is demeaning to them. Why are they less capable? and why is it anyone else’s fault? What nonsense there is there days in the name of “cultural relativism”.

  3. posted by Tom Jefferson III on

    The Israeli liberals and progressives had an interest in promoting LGBT rights in Israeli, and policy and attitudes began to change in the 1960s. The Israeli conservative and (especially) the religious-conservatives were not supportive.

    Today, the results — while not perfect — have been quite impressive. So much so, that the Likud Party (the main conservative party) has had to support the current progress made, or at least not work to dismantle it.

    This is how political parties — major political parties — operate within an electoral democracy. It is more a case of pragmatism and coalition building, as opposed to outright “white washing” or wanting to be champions of LGBT rights.

    The problem — in this case — is that discrimination and harassment that Palestinians ( straight and LGBT alike) face.

    Some of these challenges are more directly LGBT rights issues then others, and some of these are a product of Israeli and Palestinian policies.

  4. posted by tom jefferson 3rd on

    Hmm. My posts did not appear.

  5. posted by JohnInCA on

    Eh, I won’t speak to whether or not Israel itself engages in “pink-washing”.

    But it’s pretty obvious that American Republicans do. When someone that doesn’t much care for gay people here in America says that we should support Israel because of how it treats gay people, it’s pretty clear they *are* using Israel’s treatment of gay people to distract from the issues at play in the Middle East.

  6. posted by Jorge on

    We understand that the Task Force has undertaken to conduct a review of its policies in this regard and we congratulate that decision. We believe that the review should be conducted by an outside, independent party charged with determining what happened, how it happened, and what will be done to ensure that it will not happen again.

    This letter has all the fingerprints of the stereotype [I won’t admit which relative] has about last generation’s New York City teacher lobby. And what on earth is “active pluralism”? Hmm, not quite. Randi Weingarten signed it, but she’s there as an “additional signatory.”

    Some of the other well-known signatories are interesting, but ultimately much the same. Progressivism in sugary spice and everything nice packaging. Any outliers? Hmm! The founder of the Metropolitan Community Church? (From Wikipedia: “Perry’s theology has been described as conservative, but social action was a high priority from the beginning of the establishment of the denomination.” Um, yes, I attended a sermon of his once, that was my impression of his theology, too.) A lot of priests. Someone from the DNC, a former Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, the dowager Windsor. Nobody from that I recognize from the new left. It’s a rightward approach.

    Here’s hoping this self-examination on the left will lead to positive change.

    I don’t think this is a self-examination. This is center-left vs left, old generation vs. new generation.

    It’s probably a minority of the new generation. And many of the signatories represent people who have created institutions of progressive thought in pretty much the model the letter is asking for. They replicate. They can convince other liberals quite effectively. But it’s a sleeper effect. They’re less effective when other national trends rile people up (I think I’ve said that once about Barney Frank.)

    But it’s pretty obvious that American Republicans do. When someone that doesn’t much care for gay people here in America says that we should support Israel because of how it treats gay people, it’s pretty clear they *are* using Israel’s treatment of gay people to distract from the issues at play in the Middle East.

    Really? Rick Santorum’s hatred of Iran for executing gays is pinkwashing. (Oh, wait, I wouldn’t even put him in your former category.) No, I think it’s just an example of American politics preventing people from saying anything about American gays. I come to the opposite opinion. If anything it’s an unconscious attempt to convince the public to demand an end to the hypocrisy.

  7. posted by Houndentenor on

    As for the last part, there’s far too much demand for “Ideological purity” these days. You can’t get to a majority, especially a sustainable one without some DINOs and RiNOs. In fact, I would assert that if your representative is voting 100% of the time with their party they are most likely voting against the interests of the citizens in their state or district at least part of that time. We had a better working government back when both parties had a wider spectrum from left to right and bills got passed with coalitions of senators and representatives who shared common interests beyond party affiliation. This strict binary means even the most basic things that ought to be easy to pass and hugely popular can’t get done. It’s madness and it needs to end.

    • posted by Jim Michaud on

      Agreed. I chalk this insanity up to the “blogification” and the influence and ambiance of radio talk show hosts into the political process. Extremists on both sides are swell for talk radio. It gins up the numbers, books get sold, etc. Blogs promote a certain slice of belief, and so on. The problem starts when politicians try to govern with talk radio/blog tactics and thought processes. Someone wrote a book called “The Big Sort”, how people are self segregating into areas of like minded individuals. People are increasingly wanting to live in a bubble. News from only one side of the political spectrum, reading certain books, not even desiring to have differently minded neighbors. How to stop this? I don’t know. Force fundies to live in San Francisco for a while? Have liberals move in big numbers to a small town in a red state? Or just say to heck with it and divide the country once again. People will be able to have their one outlook, a congress with just one point of view, and no opposition anywhere for miles around. We’ll have a Divided States of America and that will suit the extremists just fine.

  8. posted by Tom Jefferson 3rd on

    1. I think some non-Jewish, people on the political left and on the right have a problem with anti-Semitism.

    Some on the political right support Israel because its role in their Christian Raptue/Left Behind beliefs.

    Some on the political left support Palestine because it plays into a Arab liberation beliefs.

    In both cases, the rights and dignity of Israelis or Palestinians are subservient to other political goals.

    2. I have been to a fair share of LGBT conferences as well. Lots of different causes get promoted by lots of different people.

    Again, you are going to have University students (left and right) who are going to be theatrical and make wild, unrealistic demands.

    The polaralized nature of American party politics and the lack of civility and tact are all factors at work here.

    The solution to the situation in Israel-Palestinian crisis is going to be a land for peace deal, (which was on track prior in the early 1990s) and lots of money pumped into development, health care and education.

    • posted by Jorge on

      Couldn’t the Israelis do the money part without the land part?

      (They need bait.)

  9. posted by Tom Jefferson 3rd on


    The human rights problems facing the Palestinian people can broadly be divided up into two main groups.

    Basically, we have the problem of discrimination against Arab-Israelis who live in Israel as a ethnic minority.

    The second group refers to those Arabs who live in land occupied by Israel (or Jordan), or have land lost during the decades long conflict or otherwise are in legal limbo and will need to have their own independent, democratic nation.

    The end result is to address ethnic discrimination internally and a two State solution. This was essentially what was happening in the 1990s with Arafat and Rabin.

    Sadly, Rabin was killed by a man with (ties to far right, ultra orthodox movement). The peace movement in Israel has not fully recovered.

    With progress stalled, Arafat found himself increasingly unable or unwilling to control factions within his government or the then opposition who see hatred and violence as the solution.

    Increases in violence against Israelis, makes voters afraid and angry and thus more likely to back the Israelis politicians who don’t want peace.

    Does Israel have a right to exist and defend itself? Yes, but Palestinians have the right to their own nation.

Comments are closed.