Thursday, August 8, 2013

Scaping those goats

There is quite the furor at the moment about Russia hosting the Olympics because of their absurd and terrible anti gay laws (you can't even *talk* about being gay legally).  There is certainly no question that the laws are insane from a good governance standpoint and moral standpoint but I think they are pretty useful for Putin.  Russia is a mess in a lot of ways and gay people are a useful scapegoat to keep the hate of the masses focused at somebody who isn't him.  He has tried to position this move as a strike against the US, somehow portraying them as bastions of gay support despite the fact that they are still so homophobic.  Russia isn't like those degenerate Americans because we still violently attack those who were born wrong!

Unfortunately scapegoating works.  It worked in Hitler's Germany, it works in Russia today, and it even works in other countries that are theoretically more tolerant.  If you look at right wing political groups in progressive countries they can't generally get away with scapegoating homosexuals or people of specific cultures or skin colours anymore so they have to get a little more creative and blame immigrants or poor people for everything.  You see, if those poor people would just work hard they would be rich, so obviously they are lazy and are wrecking everything for the rest of us.  All those immigrants, coming over here and working brutal jobs for tons of hours for minimum wage, see how they make everyone's life worse by leeching?

The scapegoating in Russia is certainly more severe but when you consider the way police and the judicial system on this side of the pond treat poor and nonwhite folks it often isn't that different.  No one would be talking about boycotting an Olympics over here though despite all of that.  It is a sign that the gay rights movement has really come into its own; there is still plenty to do of course but refusal to accept mistreatment of people based on sexual orientation is now really mainstream though clearly not universally accepted.  Time is clearly on its side though and it serves as an important precedent for other groups that are fighting for similar recognition.

I don't expect any of the upset to accomplish anything.  The Olympic committee is not renowned for giving a crap about anything except viewers and sponsorship dollars so it seems pretty much certain that nothing whatsoever will be done.  They will deny any issue and sweep it under the rug.  I also expect any gay athlete that does show up to not have any troubles with the law - Putin wants a big fancy display of how great Russia is and a human rights fiasco won't help that.  Surely the police will be under strict instructions to not mess around with athletes or support staff until the Games end so that Russia can come off looking as good as is possible under the circumstances and get back to being bigoted and crazy when the spotlight turns away once more.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not totally sure that nothing will happen at the games itself. I wouldn't be shocked at all if an athlete decided to wave a rainbow flag in protest and the police actually arrested them and refused to let them compete.

    That sounds crazy from our point of view but Putin may have more invested in being iron-fisted than he does in international relationships. It is pretty easy for him to say, "This is the law in Russia and they broke the law, the Olympics are not an excuse."

    We'll see soon enough. (Oh, and there was a movement to boycott the Vancouver Olympics because of Canadian treatment of Aboriginals. Obviously it didn't go anywhere.)