Thursday, August 29, 2013
Like many others, I’ve warned that Russia is sliding fast into neo-fascism. We’ve seen all this before, and the world ignores it now at its peril.
The Russian laws against gay people are strikingly similar to the early repressive laws in Nazi Germany, in the years before they started their “final solution”. They started out simply vilifying the people they didn’t like, setting up already despised segments of society for persecution which led, ultimately, to the death camps.
But things became increasingly worse long before the murdering began. We’re seeing similar things happening in Russia now.
Russian police raided an art gallery and seized several paintings, including one of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in a woman’s nightie coming the hair of the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, who is shown in women's underwear. Russia doesn’t permit artists to make fun of politicians, nor can anything suggesting homosexuality, implied or actual, be displayed in public.
Russian police also raided the home of a LGBT activist and lawyer Nikolai Alexeyev (video above). Police wrecked the home and confiscated electronic gear. Their destructive raid was made because they said they were “investigating” a complaint from a leading anti-gay bigot in the Russian Parliament.
There’s also been a report of the government attempting to re-write history: A Russian film maker plans to make a film in which famed gay composer Peter Tchaikovsky is portrayed as heterosexual. Why? Because otherwise, under Russia’s anti-gay laws, one of their greatest sons could never be spoken of in his own homeland.
This is all on top of the Russian Government’s plans to arrest, imprison, fine and deport any Olympic athlete, official, journalist or spectator who breaks their anti-gay laws. But Russia won’t have to worry about that law specifically: The Russian dictator has outlawed all protests around the time of the Olympics.
Most of these incidents are amply documented by credible news sources, but getting reliable information about what’s happening in Russia, particularly on small things, is difficult. As a country that has no freedom of the press and only very limited freedom of speech, getting reliable information is a challenge.
What we can clearly see is that everything Russia is doing now, particularly the persecution of LGBT people, has been done before by other fascist regimes. In the 1930s, the world failed to take the threat seriously and ended up in a world war. It must never make that mistake again.
Moving or cancelling the Sochi Olympics is a mostly symbolic action, but it’s one the world must take to show that it won’t let history repeat itself. If we don’t, the world will live to regret it.
Update: A few days after I published this post, John Aravosis of AMERICAblog detailed Nikolai Alexeyev's anti-Semitic meltdown on social Media. Aravosis wrotes: "While I earlier worried that perhaps Alexeyev had been co-opted by the Russian authorities, after seeing him on Russian TV this past Saturday night he seemed perfectly at ease and perfectly normal. Short of a miracle, I now believe that this is the real Nikolai Alexeyev. And it ain’t pretty. He had an illustrious career. And it’s now finished."
None of this changes the fact that Russia is sliding headfirst into full fascism. It is extremely important to note that the fact that Nikolai Alexeyev is anti-Semitic doesn't in any way excuse what Putin's regime is doing. Rising anti-gay violence in the country has been amply documented, and LGBT people haven't seen the worst of what is to come. Nikolai Alexeyev must be judged on his own actions and bigotry, and he can never be used to excuse the fascism of the Putin regime.