Saturday, July 27, 2013

To Boycott Or Not To Boycott

... that is a question.

Russia has declared war on its LGBT citizens.  The government, the Russian Orthodox Church, public opinion, and allied thugs are all searching out and destroying gay and lesbian Russians, especially the young.  As I've said many times on this blog, homophobia plays the same role now that antisemitism did a century ago, as a focus for anti-liberalism, anti-cosmopolitanism, and anxieties about displacement in the modern world.  Russia, famous for its historic pogroms, is starting another one against gays and lesbians, and largely for the same reasons as the pogroms from a century ago, as a divide et impera tactic.  Rally the suckers around a common threat, and they won't notice when you break into their houses and rob them blind.  The ruling kleptocracy of the Russian Federation always needs to distract its people.  And what better distraction than a small minority even more despised than the Jews?  They can't get away with singling out ethnic minorities anymore (never mind that they continue to bomb the hell out of the Chechens in the Caucasus).  International opinion won't let the Russians get away with racism.  After the Tsars, Hitler, and Stalin, there are hardly any Jews left in Russia.  So what's left?

Fags!  Thank God!  Butt-fucking perverts are there to save Holy Russia!  Finally something that no one understands and everyone hates to rally the people round the Double Eagle again!  Ring the bells!  Cense the icons!  Waive the flags!

With all that against them, Russian gay activists join their central African counterparts as the toughest queers on the planet.  No one is more bold and brave than our Russian and African comrades.

The Winter Olympics are coming to Russia, to the town of Sochi this year.  There is a lot of talk about boycotting the games in gay circles.  Frankly, I'm against boycotting the Olympics.  It seems to me that past Olympic boycotts punished not the offending regimes, but the athletes who worked and trained for years to compete in the games.  Here, one of our very own, openly gay figure skating champion Johnny Weir says as much:

The fact that Russia is arresting my people, and openly hating a minority and violating human rights all over the place is heartbreaking and a travesty of international proportions. I respect the LGBT community full heartedly, but I implore the world not to boycott the Olympic Games because of Russia’s stance on LGBT rights or lack thereof. I beg the gay athletes not to forget their missions and fight for a chance to dazzle the world. Olympics are history, and they do not represent their host, they represent the world entire. People make their own futures, and should a government or sponsor steal that future, whether it be a Russian government or American government, it is, as an athlete, the death and total demolition of a lifetime of work. Support the athletes. There isn’t a police officer or a government that, should I qualify, could keep me from competing at the Olympics.

It might be a small thing, but gay bars around the country are starting pour the Stolichnaya down the sink, and canceling contracts with Russian distilleries.

I hope our athletes, gay and straight, make some kind of gesture to protest this latest Russian pogrom.  The Olympics are no stranger to political gestures by athletes.

Let's show solidarity with our Russian comrades by an economic boycott, by our support, by providing asylum if necessary, by public gestures, but let's not punish our athletes with an Olympic boycott.

And let's not forget the boldest and most cutting protest political band of our era now languishing in Russian labor camps, Pussy Riot.


LGBT activists in Russian have also decided against an Olympics boycott.  Here is Nikolai Alekseyev:

It's official! The organizing committee of Moscow Gay Pride and founders of the banned Pride House Sochi decided today against the boycott of Winter Olympics in Sochi and instead to organize Winter Sochi Pride on the day of the opening of Olympic Games on 7 February 2014. Join us! It will be much more effective to draw attention to official homophobia in Russia all around the world and expose the hypocrisy of the International Olympic Committee which went into discriminatory agreements with Russian regime and of the European Court of Human Rights which still has not considered our complaint concerning the unlawful denial to register Pride House Sochi! Vive Sochi Pride 2014!

Hat tip to JoeMyGod.


JCF said...

I don't think anyone should go to Sochi to see the Games.

If some brave LGBTs/allies want to go *for the express purpose of public protest* of Putin's Phobic-Phascist regime, then OK. [The athletes should protest, too!]

Quoth Pussy Riot: "Holy Mother of God, cast Putin out!" [And all homophobia, too!]

Counterlight said...

Maybe we could send our athletes and their families while the rest of us stay home (and keep our money at home).

Mary Clara said...

Jesse Owens, whose victories at the 1936 Berlin Games showed how wrong the Nazis were about Aryan superiority, tried to dissuade President Carter from boycotting the 1980 Olympics. I expect that other Olympians would agree. Johnny is so right that the athletes should not be asked to give up what for many would be their only chance at Olympic participation. I hope that there will be some amazing LGBT athletes at Sochi, and that the U.S. team will go with a Rainbow spirit and dazzle the world.