Ethnocentrism Insults My Intelligence

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.

The original is Putin’s official photo, courtesy of http://www.kremlin.ru . They grant permission to modify the image, but I doubt that this is what they had in mind. If i disappear tomorrow, no, I was not planning to take an exciting and sudden vacation in Siberia.

The original is Putin’s official photo, courtesy of http://www.kremlin.ru . They grant permission to modify the image, but I doubt that they had this in mind. If I suddenly disappear tomorrow, that “exciting” vacation in Siberia was not undertaken by choice.

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.

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19 thoughts on “Ethnocentrism Insults My Intelligence

  1. There’s alway another side to the argument, isn’t there? Frankly, I’m amazed that South Africa is so progressive in our stance on LGBT rights. I know our president would rather follow Putin’s example if our Constitution didn’t stand in his way. (Our president is very adamant that men should sleep with women. He has several wives…)

    • I’m somewhat not surprised by what you say about South Africa, at least in regard to its laws.

      The Dutch have been among the most tolerant peoples for a long time, and there’s surely some of that influence still going on down there… in spite of the obvious political changes that have taken place.

      • On the contrary, the former Dutch-descendant government was so conservative they make your republicans look like a bunch of hippies. It was the ANC government that wrote our progressive constitution and, with an unbroken majority over the past twenty years, made most of the current laws. But the current government, the majority of them very much cronies of our current president, are leaning back towards the conservative side. We’re in very real danger of going the same route as Russia.

        • Well… there is something of a difference between Dutch and Dutch-descendant, I assume. I mean, it’s kind of hard to call that whole Apartheid thing “tolerant.”

        • Exactly. Gays were as bad as blacks and communists. In fact, Verwoerd, the architect of Apartheid, got many of his ideas from Hitler. When the new Constitution was written in the mid-nineties, Mandela’s generation wrote it so that none of those types of things could be allowed again, turning us into one of the most liberal countries on Earth (at least on paper). Now, it seems, Zuma’s generation wants it to go back the other way, as reflected in many African countries as you mentioned in the post.

  2. That was really interesting. He doesn’t have much to lose, and he does stand to gain. And the West is never going to do anything but scold him for any stance he takes on LGTB issues.

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