Ah yes, the Olympics have arrived and the Russians have been celebrating… except gays and lesbians and guest workers and thirsty people and anyone who wishes to use a restroom with exactly one toilet in it.
That list goes on longer, I know, but I’m not here to rehash commentary that has appeared in a million places during the past few days. Instead, I’d like to talk about our friend, Vladimir Putin.
As you can probably tell, I intend to discuss the outrage people are expressing over his statements and policies on homosexuals and homosexuality. Many are claiming that the whole issue has given Putin a black eye and destroyed his ambitions for showcasing Russia’s greatness during the Games.
Granted, Putin deserves a black eye, but I wonder if he doesn’t come out ahead in all of this.
Hear me out.
It’s easy to forget that the LGBT issue is only controversial in certain countries. He’s in line with the economically and politically critical Arab countries (and Iran) as well as numerous African countries and India, among others. He was already on the outs with many Western European countries and the U.S.
Need evidence of those preexisting rocky relationships? Let’s chat Ukraine.
To me, the whole controversy benefits Putin; he’s driving a cultural wedge between us and more restrictive nations that will place him on the side of the countries whose friendship he wishes to maintain in the midst of his exploits in the Caucasus (and other places). There’s more to geopolitics than the U.S. and Europe…
Of course, that makes him relatively immune to contrary arguments. His LGBT policy, in such a scenario, amounts to little more than the political calculations of a shrewd tactician.
And the protesters are dancing and singing Kumbaya (and some are competing) and asserting that they’re changing the world because their message is getting out. And in doing so, they forget one of the central Olympic tenets, namely that the Games represent a meeting of all nations and cultures. That includes the many countries that impose a death penalty on homosexual activity.
Nevertheless, the protesters have managed to raise awareness of the issue among Americans who were already aware of the issue. For that, the world owes them a profound debt of gratitude.