Something struck me late last month when I read the title of the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) press release faulting the Bush Administration for voting “to deny United Nations consultative status ” to two LGBT groups. HRC headlined its release “UNITED NATIONS: U.S. ALIGNED WITH IRAN IN ANTI-GAY VOTE.” With such a headline, it would seem that HRC routinely addresses the persecution of gays in the Islamic Republic. And although I receive HRC’s press releases via a list-serve and check their web-site regularly, I don’t recall reading much HRC criticism of this oppressive anti-American regime.
Indeed, a search for “Iran” on their site yields only 10 hits — exactly as many as a search for “Alito.” And there have been documented cases of anti-gay policies and actions in Iran for years before President Bush tapped that good man for the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s not just that. Only one of those documents, a July 22, 2005 press release on the execution of two teens in Iran, directly addresses the anti-gay actions of that oppressive regime. Interestingly, the primary purpose of that release was to publicize a letter HRC President Joe Solmonese had sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking the State Department to condemn the atrocity.
It thus seems that the only way to get HRC to condemn anti-gay abuses in an anti-American regime is to find a way to do so by questioning or criticizing the Bush Administration. More often than not, HRC focuses its venom, not on the worst oppressors of gays in the world but on President Bush and Republicans. And they’re not the only gay group to do so. Other gay groups also seem more interested in promoting a leftist agenda than in addressing gay concerns. And some are even worse on this score than HRC.
Last week, The Malcontent‘s adorable Robbie noted how the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) prefers the anti-gay Palestinian culture to “a liberal Israel that protects gay rights.” In a January 9 e-mail to members of its International Advisory Committee (IAC), IGLHRC Executive Director Paula Ettelbrick and her board liaison for IAC, Adrian Coman, explained why they thought the group should not participate in a LGBT World Pride celebration to take place this summer in Jerusalem:
While IGLHRC sees as its mandate the promotion of human rights everywhere, and would typically wish to support local organizations and activists, and participate in any world conference where the discussions and goals included LGBT rights, as a human rights organization, we do not feel it is appropriate to participate in a ‘world pride’ event in the middle of an occupation and in a location were our colleagues from the region could not travel to Israel to participate.
(This from an excellent piece by Richard Rosendall on FrontPagemag.com which Robbie references in his post and to which David Horowitz alerted me when I saw him last week at the Wednesday Morning Club luncheon.) While wanting to steer clear of the capital of one of the few democracies in the Middle East, IGLHRC, however, did not find Beijing and Havana, capitals of oppressive regimes, off-limits for its representatives.
The only reason thier colleagues couldn’t travel to Israel is because some Muslim governments ban entry (in into their nations) of “people with Israeli stamps in their passports.” Ms. Ettelbrick and IGLHRC are thus blaming Israel for the policies of nations opposed to its existence.
The difference, you see, is that Beijing and Havana represent regimes of the “oppressed” while many on the Left find Israel an oppressor regime. This sympathy for the “oppressed” explains one self-proclaimed diaspora Jew’s proclivity for the Palestinians: “Obviously, the Israelis are Jews, so they are my people. But, the Palestinians are oppressed, so they’re my people more.” (Via Best of the Web.) Perhaps, this is why some gay groups would rather take issue with conservatives than with repressive third-world regimes. They see themselves on the side of the “oppressed.” And they hesitate to take on anti-American regimes because by those governments’ opposition to America, they are on the side of the oppressed.
Perhaps, that conclusion is just speculation, but it is striking that practically the only time HRC brings up Iran, one of the most anti-gay regimes in the world, is when it attempts to tie that regime to its number one nemesis — President Bush.
Even when HRC raises a valid criticism against the Bush Administration — as it appears it has done when it faulted the U.S. for voting against consultative status for those two LGBT groups — it compromises its own message by its over-the-top rhetoric. In its release, not only does HRC link Bush to Iran, but it also quotes a variety of officials from left-wing orgnizations, including IGLHRC’s Ettelbrick, the woman who has qualms about sending a delegation to Jerusalem (while sending ones to Havana or Beijing). Thus, if I were to follow HRC’s lead, I could title this post – HRC Aligned with anti-Israel Group in Anti-American Release.
By linking the Administration to Iran, HRC is trying to suggest that the Administration’s policies are close to those of that oppressive regime. Just as they reference Iran in the various documents on their web-page not to attack that regime but to suggest that that tyranny’s policies are similar to those which social conservatives advocate. Once again putting them in sync with the angry Left.
This morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, DNC Chairman Howard Dean suggested the president’s policies could turn us into “a country like Iran where the President of Iran can do anything they want at any time.” Just like HRC, others on the Left only reference tyrannical anti-Western regimes so that they can compare them to their ideological adversaries.
And unless they’re engaged in such comparisons, too many gay groups ignore the anti-gay behavior of these regimes. They would rather not deal with facts which do not accord with their ideology which sees their movement as part of a struggle of “oppressed” minority groups against the “oppressors” that is, the ruling classes of Western nations.
Because they see themselves as part of this “coalition of the oppressed,” gay groups are ever eager to unite with other left-wing groups in opposition these “oppressive” Western regimes, particularly those with conservative governments. Yet, these “oppressive” regimes almost always allow gay men and lesbians more freedom than do those governments which leftists believe represent the oppressed. It’s time that gay groups break away from left-wing ideologies which, in many cases, embrace not only anti-American regimes and causes, but also some of the worst abusers of gay rights in the world.
Instead of seeing everything in terms of President Bush, HRC and other gay groups need to stop focusing on standing together with the Left and start concentrating instead on standing up for the dignity of gay and lesbian individuals at home and abroad.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com