May 28, 2009
Posted by: Chris
One of the first stories I posted on Gay News Watch, back in February 2007, concerned reports that the Iraqi government was lending its official endorsement to Shiite militias responsible for killing gay men. After two more years of American occupation and a change in U.S. administrations, the story hasn't changed and the horrific killings continue:
Two gay men were killed in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, and police confirmed they found the bodies of four more men, all killed during a 10-day period after an unknown Shiite militia group urged a crackdown on homosexuals in the country.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs believes as many as 30 people have been killed during the last three months because they were -- or were perceived to be -- gay.
Homosexuality is prohibited almost everywhere in the Middle East, but conditions have become especially dangerous in recent years for gays and lesbians, as religious militias have become more powerful since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
But an Iraqi military source claimed the recent killings were linked to tribal violence, not militias, and his characterization of the killings hints at how deep homophobia runs in Iraqi society.
"Two young men were killed Thursday. They were sexual deviants. Their tribes killed them to restore their family honor," an Iraqi army member who did not want to give his name told ABC News.
The army source said the bodies of four gay men were unearthed in Sadr City March 25, each bearing signs reading "pervert" in Arabic on their chests. All the bodies found bore signs of torture and were found fixed to poles when they were killed. The Iraqi army source also said two of the men found dead were wearing diapers and women's lingerie.
Two gay men were found elsewhere in Sadr City, alive but bearing the scars of severe torture. They were beaten, their chests showed signs of cigarette burns, and when police found them they were rushed to the hospital. They had been sodomized with iron bars, sources said. Other men said they had had their chests slashed and their nipples cut off.
The Bush and Obama administrations have been justifiably proud about the improved status, safety and opportunity for women as a result of the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. But where is the concerted action to put an end to these unspeakable acts of violence?
April 10, 2008
Posted by: Andoni
McCain repeatedly asserts that if he is president, America cannot and will not lose in Iraq under any circumstances -- even if we have to stay there 100 years or more. When I listen to McCain talk about the "winning the war," I wonder exactly which war McCain has in his head –- Iraq or Vietnam?
It may well be that McCain has never gotten over what happened to the U.S. (and him personally) in the Vietnam War and is transferring his feelings to Iraq. In McCain’s mind, Iraq represents Vietnam. And McCain’s positions on Iraq are simply the emotional manifestations of his trying to achieve closure (and victory) in Vietnam.
This is something that has no doubt eaten away at him for over 35 years. Now he's stuck living in the past and his intransigent view about Iraq is actually an attempt to change the result in Vietnam -- at least in his head.
If it sounds familiar to have a president using a new conflict to re-fight a previous war, trying to change the outcome, it is.
President George W. Bush believed his father President George H.W. Bush blew it by not going all the way to Baghdad and finishing off Saddam during the first Gulf War. With that gnawing at him for years, W’s emotions were primed for the 2003 invasion.
Similarly, there was a young German corporal who in 1919 could not accept the outcome of World War I for his country, and so over 20 years set himself up to lead his country to avenge that loss, trying to achieve a different outcome. The result -- Nazi Germany and World War II -- was disastrous.
The DSM-IV stands for the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition. That is the psychiatric medical text that began listing homosexuality as a mental illness in 1952 in its first edition. Homosexuality was removed as an illness in 1973 for the fourth edition.
In light of my observations about Hitler, Bush and McCain, I am going to write to the American Psychiatric Association to suggest they add a new category “Paleo Guerre Disorder” (PGD): whereby a person is so distraught over the result of a previous conflict that he confuses the events and emotions of the old conflict with the current situation.
If America is stupid enough not to see that McCain is trying to undo and avenge the result in Vietnam, then it gets what it deserves if it elects him. Getting fooled twice by a president with the same emotional mental disorder, would be quite stupid on our part, devastatingly stupid.
April 24, 2007
Posted by: Chris
He caught wind of an item on the Christian News Wire, buzzing with a press release by the Biblical Family Advocates, arguing that the campus shooting illustrated the “absurdity” of hate crimes legislation.
Of all the gay-related reactions to Virginia Tech, this was the most timely. Just two weeks earlier, Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) reintroduced a bill that would allow federal prosecution of hate crimes, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Similar legislation had been introduced in the House two weeks earlier, and has passed one or the other houses of Congress numerous times over the years, but never made it to the president’s desk.
This year, the bill has renamed to honor Matthew Shepard, another college student struck down violently just as he began his adult life. But to hear the conservatives tell it, all violent crime is motivated by “hate,” so punishing some more than others is “hypocritical.”
“How can anyone say that it was not a hate crime for any of these [Virginia Tech] students or faculty to die the way they did?” asked Phil Magnan, director of Biblical Family Associates. “Where is their equal protection of the law? The fact remains that all crimes are a crime of hate.”
In fact, most violent crime among strangers is motivated by greed and indifference, not outright hate for the victims, but Magnan’s analysis isn’t only wrong there. Our laws regularly punish crimes differently based upon the intent of the perpetrator and the societal impact of the offense.
The U.S. federal sentencing guidelines, for example, allow for a more severe punishment if the criminal singled out the victim based on his or her old age or other frailty. The victim’s vulnerability makes the crime particularly heinous.
Civil rights laws similarly punish burning a cross in the lawn of an African-American family much more severely than burning some other object in the lawn of a family without regard to their race because the impact of the crime is much more severe. It’s intended to intimidate not just the black residents of that house but others in the area.
The same is true of hate crimes where the victims are selected based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Two years ago this weekend, during gay-friendly Amsterdam’s annual Queen’s Day festivities, my partner and I were walking hand in hand down a busy street.
A group of thugs spat on us and muttered an anti-gay obscenity, and when we didn’t flee, they attacked us, leaving me with a broken nose and two black eyes. No doubt there were other street scuffles during the course of that weekend, some perhaps resulting in more serious injuries. But the attack on us was intended to terrorize us, and others like us, from exercising the basic human freedom of walking down the street holding hands.
Consider for a moment if Cho Seung Hui, the Virginia Tech shooter, had been Muslim, and his videotape message had said his attack was part of an anti-American jihad. The crime would no doubt taken on even greater significance, probably resulting in all sorts of anti-terror measures.
The motivation of the criminal matters, even if he’s acting on a hostility against gays that is a perversion of Christianity, in the same way terror attacks can be a perversion of Islam. Gordon Smith was right when he dismissed concerns that the Matthew Shepard Act would infringe on the free speech rights of those opposed to homosexuality on religious grounds.
"This act is about the prosecution of crime, not prohibition of speech," Smith told the Washington Post. "Unless they believe part of their religion is the practice of violence against others, they should not be affected by this bill."
What do you think? Take a moment to vote in the Vizu Poll to the right of this post. As usual, you don't leave the site to do it.
January 12, 2007
Posted by: Chris
A hearty "Amen, brother!" to my friend Terry Michael, for his blistering critique of how Democrats rolled over for the president in the months leading up to the Iraq war. And worse yet, as Terry points out, they're still rolling over — though, I would add, for the opposite reason.
Even though Terry's "primal scream" is from the left, it found a home in a right-wing newspaper— the Washington Times — that no doubt considers the enemy of its enemy its friend:
Like millions of other Americans, I can no longer contain the primal scream I want to direct at the members of my party who declined to engage a real debate in the run-up to this completely avoidable misjudgment of old men and women, willing to send boys and girls to die for their ideological hallucinations and political cowardice.
Non-existent, and certainly non-threatening WMDs. A secularist paper-tiger dictator, despised by the Islamist lunatics who actually had anything to do with Sept. 11. A tribal, theocratic culture with zero indigenous movement for pluralistic democracy.
All of those things were knowable when congressional Democrats like Mr. Biden had an opportunity to stop this madness before it started. Some of them actually shared the neoconservative pretensions of a new American imperialism. But most just quaked in their permanent campaign boots, fearing being labeled Cold War-style liberal wimps.
Spot-on. You could see it in their faces during the "debate" over whether to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq. Led by White House wannabe's like John Kerry and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat after Democrat sent our soldiers to die to protect their own political hides. To my mind, that makes them much more culpable than the zealous Republicans (and Democrats like Joe Lieberman) who drank the kool-aid and still haven't come to.
And it also ought disqualify them from eligibility for the White House, absent a serious mea culpa and a sense that the mistake won't be repeated. Since Kerry was also wrong on Iraq in '91 (voting against the Persian Gulf War), his judgment on questions of war and peace is beyond redemption.
But the Democrats — even basking in the glory of newfound power — are writing another chapter in "Profiles Lacking Courage." More from Terry:
Trying to finesse their way out of their Faustian bargain, Democrats now engage in a transparent antiwar vamp, with limp proposals to implement the September 11 commission report and half-measures opposing escalation. … Where are the Gordon Smith's in the Democratic Party? Where are the conviction politicians willing to spend political capital to lead a citizenry which has decided overwhelmingly that this war is crazy? …
Instead, the only place I can find truth speaking to power is on a cable TV comedy channel, not in the chambers of what used to be called the greatest deliberative body in the world. Is anybody out there willing to lead?
There are lions like Gordon Smith in the Democratic Party, and none roars louder than Ted Kennedy, who has consistently opposed the war and did so again in a stirring call-against-arms this week. And Kennedy did more than talk, he introduced a bill that would require approval from Congress before additional troops go to fight an unjust and ill-conceived war. But Kennedy is the exception among Democrats, many of whom are still afraid to engage the GOP on "national security" matters, only proving they are the wimps they are afraid Republicans will make them out to be.
But now there's an additional, even more cynical reason that many Democrats will say only so much as to preserve their political options. At this point, Iraq is not just George Bush's mess, it's the Republicans' mess. Consider the party's '08 front-runner, John McCain, who until this week could deflect his support for the war by claiming it was carried out ineptly. This week the president called McCain's bluff, since sending more troops is exactly what McCain has been advocating for months. If the result isn't successful, then McCain will have to out-maneuver the likes of John Kerry to explain himself to voters.
So for many Democrats, the mess is someone else's, and with no easy solutions it's best to let them face the clean-up. And the worse the mess, the worse the political fallout for Republicans. On the other hand, responding to Kennedy's leadership and pushing for full-scale withdrawal — even from such an obviously failed effort — carries the "cut and run" risk that "wimp"-fearing Democrats are too averse to take. So like Joe Biden (D-Del.), lampooned in Terry's piece for claiming "there's not much [he] can do" about Iraq, they send stern letters to the White House while more soldiers go to their deaths.
December 01, 2006
Posted by: Chris
It all started as a throwaway comment as things got heated during a panel discussion at this year's National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association convention in Miami. The topic, suggested by Terry Michael of the Washington Center on Politics & Journalism, was "Lavender Press Politics: Too Blue for Red-State Readers?"
Terry had argud there was a "soft bias" in the gay press that doesn't give a fair shake to Republican, conservative and libertarian ideas. Karen Ocamb of IN Los Angeles magazine took issue with that view, and I focused on how too many gay press editors value clubby membership in their local community "A crowd" over really pressing coverage where their readers have the most influence: within the gay rights movement and the Democratic Party.
All this proved too much for a staffer at New York's Gay City News, a longtime competitor to our New York Blade. As we went back and forth on the issue, I found myself surprised that the GCN staffer — I believe it was Associate Editor Duncan Osborne, but I'm not sure — would even argue there wasn't a liberal bias to the gay media. After all, GCN and its indy predecessor LGNY always seem so proudly left-wing. Finally, I pointed out that GCN prints ever week a tally of fatalities in Iraq. To me, that's a self-evident case of "you know you're a liberal gay paper when…"
I am confounded as to when commemorating members of the American Armed Forces who die under fire became a sign of a left-leaning sensibility.
As the death notices in Gay City News indicate, just over 3,000 Americans have now died as the result of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. The information is all based, as best we can determine from Pentagon data, on fact. Those facts have no political meaning in and of themselves. There are names, ages, hometowns, ranks, and military units.
All this was completely beside the point I was making. ABC's "This Week" every Sunday airs the list of dead from Iraq, and I would agree there's no "left-leaning sensibility" behind that. But within the gay press, it's so off-topic that it betrays the liberal anti-war bias of the editors. (And I'm no closet defender of the war. I have thought it was irresponsible and unjustified from the start.)
When Schindler finally tries to make the weekly Iraq War death tally a gay issue, his argument is even weaker:
Having lived in Brooklyn and worked in Manhattan in the days following 9/11 — and for almost two decades before that — I find it inconceivable that this city’s LGBT community would ever attempt to be able to seal itself off from the horror of that experience, or from the debate about how our nation has responded in its wake. The events since Sept. 11, 2001, have at their essence been a New York tragedy, an American tragedy. And our integration into American life will never be full until our community recognizes its inseparability from the whole of that tragedy. …
U.S. military policy forbids open service by gay and lesbian soldiers, though we all know that many serve, and some die. We can’t say for certain who the [closeted gay soldiers] of Iraq and Afghanistan are, but their names are somewhere on the lists we print.
Talk about your bootstraps! A story about gays serving overseas under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," or the difficulties faced by their partners back home, or any number of other "gay angles" to the Iraq War story are certainly fair game for the gay press without being liberal-biased. Efforts by gay rights groups to ally with other progressive groups in opposition to the war — or work on the other side by Log Cabin Republicans — would be as well.
But it's way too thin a reed to suggest that dedicating space every issue, week in and week out, to these Iraq death statistics is justified because some gays are somewhere on the list. The same logic would justify almost any editorial decision. A gay paper could publish the size of the federal deficit every week (gay tax dollars are included in that tally) or the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. (gays are among those crossing the border). Just as either of those statistics in the gay press, repeated ad nauseum every week, would be evidence of bias — are you listening Lou Dobbs? — the same is true for Schindler's list of Iraq war dead.
Hearing Schindler try so hard to argue GCN isn't biased makes me wonder why he even bothers. News articles in the pub are often written in first-person and include the writer's viewpoint. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. Objective journalism isn't the only form. But let's call it what it is, rather pulling a Fox News in reverse and protesting way too much.
November 12, 2006
Posted by: Chris
Count me as one more disillusioned John McCain fan. He is the REM of politics: I liked his early stuff, but when he tried too hard to be commercial, he lost his soul.
First McCain kissed up to Jerry Falwell, whom he'd called an "agent of intolerance" back in 2000. He even gave the commencement address at Falwell's Liberty University, despite school policy there to expel students who date within their gender. In 2000, McCain's "Straight Talk Express" slammed George W. Bush for speaking at Bob Jones University, which expelled students for dating outside their race.
Now in addition to changing his tune, he's turned tone deaf. If today's "Meet the Press" appearance was any indication, he certainly did not get the message from voters last Tuesday. Tim Russert asked, "What did you hear from the voters on Tuesday?" McCain responded by saying voters were upset that Republicans had strayed from promises of fiscal conservatism and become immersed in scandal. Certainly true and the issues where McCain still impresses the most.
But when McCain got around to mentioning the war, which voters in fact listed as most important, you would think it was denial, and not the Tigris and Euphrates, that run through Baghdad:
The Iraq war obviously is very frustrating. I know we’re going to talk more about that, but there’s—very frustrating to the American people. But I would submit, if they were all against the Iraq war that you probably would not have seen my friend Joe Lieberman, who I’m sure will talk about it, re-elected.
Actually, his friend Joe Lieberman was almost un-seated by a first-time candidate, who beat the former veep nominee in the Democratic Party primary, almost solely because of the war. Both McCain and Lieberman were vocal supporters of the war, haven't recounted those positions, and neither offers a realistic exit strategy.
On Iraq, the "Meet The Press" transcripts almost write themselvesl. Over and over to mind-numbing repitition, Iraq War supporters, and many Democratic critics, have gone on the Sunday morning talk shows to say that "the next 60 days, " or "the next three months," or "the next [fill in the blank]" will be absolutely critical, and will determine the outcome of the war. First it was the Iraqi draft constitution, then the elections, then the formation of a government, then the efforts to build an Iraqi security force. Now, four years later — longer than it took for the U.S. to beat both the Japanese and the Germans in World War II — the violence is escalating and there's no end in sight, or even signs of major progress.
McCain's answer? Send in more troops. If this man hadn't been a prisoner during the Vietnam War you would think he was unfamiliar with it, as much as he persists in thinking victory at this point is achievable militarily, as opposed to politically. In Iraq as in Vietnam, the people have made clear, through the ongoing insurgence and unwillingness to come together in one government, that they do not want the solution we are imposing on them. And yet the idea of involving Iraq's neighbors to achieve a political solution is, to McCain, almost an afterthought:
And by the way, I think the Baker Commission is going to recommend a area-wide conference, which is fine with me. But there’s no Rosetta Stone here, there’s no magic formula for success.
If McCain has been this wrong, for this long, about something so important, than he ought to be disqualifying himself for the higher office he seeks. In 2004, a lot of us held our noses and voted for John Kerry because he was better on social issues and because the Bush team had been so divisive and had run the war so incompentently. But John Kerry had voted wrong on both Iraq Wars and never offered a viable exit strategy, relying instead on a "Bush-lite" approach that was mind-numbing in complexity. McCain is offering more of the same and as if to put an exclamation point on it, backs the John Bolton nomination to the U.N., even though the man personifies the arrogant, divisive Bush foreign policy that has discredited the U.S. with our allies and embolded our enemies.
Whether McCain shares the famed Bush aversion to introspection or he can't politically question a war and keep conservatives on his side for the GOP primaries, he's playing with fire, not just politics.
Memo to McCain (and Hillary and others who backed this wrong-headed, poorly run war): There are certain issues — war and peace and civil rights, to name two — that you can't triangulate your way to the White House on, not if we the people and the media are doing our job.