Saturday, August 10, 2013

What's a little genocide among friends?

Vladimir Putin reportedly loves animals, LGBT people not so much.

I'll be boycotting the Sochi winter games, admittedly not much of a challenge. No live television here and, if it came down to it I'd just as leave watch dust settle. Well .... Maybe the opening ceremonies. They're usually kind of fun.

But a U.S. boycott of 2014 Winter Olympics seems unlikely despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's  apparent war on LGBT people. NBC has way too much money invested.

And it's likely the Russians will settle down now and wait until after the games have ended to get serious about persecution.

To date, adoptions of Russian-born children by parents of all orientations who live in countries where same-sex marriage is legal are forbidden. And the open-ended June "homosexual propoganda" bill, among other things, allows visitors to be arrested and held for up to two weeks if they choose to "propagandize"  homosexuality while visiting. Conceivably, that could include athletes, Olympic tourists, journalists and others who might decide to wear little rainbow lapel pins.

Most agree that the current effort to demonize the "other" in Russian society has more to do with Putin's drive to consolidate conservative support as part of a re-election bid than anything else. Although Russian society itself still tends toward the medieval, similar in some ways to the current American Tea Party movement.

Actually, Olympic boycotts aren't that unusual. President Jimmy Carter, for example, ordered a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow summer games after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. We've invaded Afghanistan (as well as Iraq), too, now. Whoops.

And the Soviet Union and 14 of its allies retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles games. What fun.

But the most parallels can be found in the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics, which Adolph Hitler looked upon as a fine opportunity to promote himself and his government's ideals of racial supremacy. 

Initially, Jews and black people were verboten. But boycott threats caused the fascist regime to relent --- sort of. The Germans even magnanimously added a women with a Jewish father to their team.

Opinion was divided in the United States, where antisemitism and racism still were tenants of both the Christian and conservative faiths. Eventually, during 1934, the United States signed on and the Olympics proceeded with worldwide (although not Soviet) support.

Much of the groundwork for U.S. participation was laid by Avery Brundage, then of the U.S. Olympic Committee and later IOC president. In Berlin to check up on the Germans he was able to commiserate, telling his hosts he understood --- he belonged to clubs, too, where Jews were not allowed.

So the Olympics proceeded, Jesse Owens and other American athletes soared and Brundage, some alleged, managed to spare the Fuhrer embarrassment by pulling at the last minute the only two Jewish members of the American team from an event in which they were likely to win gold medals.

Then, once the Olympic dust had settled, Hitler got on with his project of killing Europe's Jews plus anyone else who threatened Aryan blood lines --- thousands of Romani here, thousands of gay people there.

Time, of course, has marched onward. Racism is less overt than it once was in the United States and elsewhere and conservative Christians, salivating for Armageddon, the Rapture and all that good stuff, have become Christian friends of Israel.

There aren't enough black people in Russia to shake a stick at and most of the Jews have gone, so there's only the increasingly visible LGBT minority to kick around. 

And the question now as it was 75 years ago, isn't so much what Putin and others will do during the Olympics, as after.


Whitney Hanson said...

I would be happy to not see any more topless pics of Pyutin. Blech.

Yana Olson said...
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