Sunday, April 06, 2014

Scraps from the wrong end of the arc bending toward justice


"Those barbarians made me do it" does not cut it from purported leaders.

Brendan Eich, briefly the CEO of Mozilla Corporation which makes the open-source Firefox browser, sought to deflect the uproar over his $1000 donation in 2008 to the California campaign to prohibit gay marriage (since overturned) by explaining to the Guardian:

Eich also stressed that Firefox worked globally, including in countries like Indonesia with “different opinions”, and LGBT marriage was “not considered universal human rights yet, and maybe they will be, but that's in the future, right now we're in a world where we have to be global to have effect”.

A week later he was out of the job, unable to weather the storm of revulsion from within the tech community.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby isn't going anywhere, but he too justified his own homophobia this week by pointing out how the gays rile up the savage colonials. Welby added a dose of emotional blackmail, just for good measure.

"I have stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened in America. We have to listen to that. We have to be aware of the fact," Welby said. If the Church of England celebrated gay marriages, he added, "the impact of that on Christians far from here, in South Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic. Everything we say here goes round the world."

This is racist cowardice. Yes, there are people in Africa and in Pakistan who have taught by unscrupulous (often clerical) demagogues to hate and fear gay people. But if you know better, you don't play footsie with hate. You don't hide behind the culpable beliefs and acts of others. A prince of the church claims moral leadership; Welby has forfeited his claim in this instance.

The movement for gay human rights is on a roll in much of the world. Differential rates of change create space for backlash; that backlash is entangled with big power politics. Russia's Vladimir Putin is hoping to enhance his weakened country's status by repudiating "western" ethical innovations.

Putin intends to save the world from the West. He has started with Crimea. When he says he is protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine, he means he is protecting them from the many terrible things that come from the West. A few days after the December address, Alexei Pushkov, head of the Duma committee on foreign relations, defined that threat on the floor of the chamber: “European Union advisers in practically every ministry of any significance, control over the flow of finances and over national programs, and a broadening of the sphere of gay culture, which has become the European Union’s official policy.”

... The anti-gay agenda may seem like a thin basis for forming a militant international alliance of state-actors, but it has great unifying potential when framed in terms of a broader anti-Western effort and, indeed, a civilizational mission.

Masha Gessen, Washington Post

Well, maybe. Actually, populations that enjoy a reasonable standard of living have assimilated gay equality within a generation. Keeping women barefoot and pregnant or keeping down/out the black and brown people probably have deeper resonance for assembling blocks against human rights.

I'm not sorry Brendan Eich had to go at Mozilla -- his own industry spit him out. Mozilla retains a progressive aura; competing with Google and Apple, it probably needs to.

In general, I think gays could heed what was one of the slogans of the 1980s Nicaraguan insurrection against a dictator: "Implacable in struggle; generous in victory." We are winning unexpected, broad acceptance. For that to happen, a lot of people have had to change their minds. If they have changed, that is the occasion for delight, not criticism of their pasts. That was then; this is now.

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

These guys are like dinosaurs. Americans are getting to a point of-- seriously, they are still spouting that garbage. Young people even more so than my age but it's true for the majority of Americans now. Like why was this ever an issue. There will though always be those who cling to it. Hopefully Oregon will soon be voting to undo the travesty that happened when Oregonians put in that Constitutional amendment which was so unlike Oregon had ever been.

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