Giving the finger to the homophobic president of Russia, President Obama is sending a couple of openly gay delegates to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow will be among those who will greet Vladimir Putin, who signed laws this past summer that prohibit gay couples from adopting Russian-born kids and that prohibit “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors.” In other words, the Russians, whose past leaders have killed millions upon millions of their own countrymen, think gay people represent considerable danger to the kiddies.
But the public homophobia of Putin and Russian legislators is positively mild compared to what The Hollywood Reporter discovered:
Popular Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin, known for his intention to run for president two years ago, made scathing homophobic statements at a “spiritual talk” that he gave in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.
Addressing the audience, he said that homosexuals should be burned alive, the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.
I would put all the gays alive into an oven,” Okhlobystin, formerly an Orthodox priest, was quoted as saying. “This is Sodom and Gomorrah! As a religious person, I cannot be indifferent about it because it is a real threat to my children!”
He also compared homosexuality with fascism and added obscenities to his comments.
“I would put all the gays alive into an oven,” the former priest and current “religious person” said. Wow. How awful. At least we Americans have evolved on the issue of homosexuality, right? Well, not quite.
If you want to know what white conservative Christians in America are thinking about almost any subject, all you need to do is go see Pat Buchanan. He is the whitest, the most conservative, the most Christian Christian we have. Yesterday, in a column that can only be described as mind-blowing, he actually embraced Vladimir Putin as a “paleoconservative” in the mold of, well, Pat Buchanan. “In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us?” Buchanan asks his readers about Putin. Yes, he did. He actually asked that question. And he answered it, too. He wants American conservatives to identify themselves with the thuggish, homophobic, anti-democratic, authoritarian president of Russia, a former officer in the KGB.
But Buchanan doesn’t like Putin in spite of his homophobia, or in spite of his authoritarian impulses. He likes him because of those attributes. Buchanan, like many conservatives these days, admires the unyielding absolutists and dogmatists among us, especially if they are willing to impose their unassailable dogmatism on everyone else. Buchanan writes:
With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, “In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered.”
“They’re now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil.”
Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.
No moral confusion here, this is moral clarity, agree or disagree.
Well, David Frum, a conservative without a dominant reptilian brain, disagrees. Frum commented on Buchanan’s insane column:
Putin is a killer, a despot, and a thief on a world-historical scale, but the important thing is that he hates gays!
Yes, Putin hates gays and therefore represents everything that the right, as we know it today, loves. From Sean Hannity to Matt Drudge and now to Pat Buchanan, the right seems to have fallen in love with someone they can respect, as opposed to their own president, who happens to represent everything they fear: a pigmented Democrat whose complexion represents the future, a man with a scandal-less personal life who believes that women ought to decide for themselves when to bring children into the world, who doesn’t love war, and who doesn’t hate homosexuals.
And speaking of President Obama, without a doubt the most reprehensible part of Buchanan’s mega-reprehensible column is this:
President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire “the focus of evil in the modern world.” President Putin is implying that Barack Obama’s America may deserve the title in the 21st century.
Nor is he without an argument when we reflect on America’s embrace of abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values.
Here we have Pat Buchanan, speaking for an old-time conservatism that the Tea Party has embraced, essentially endorsing the claim that our country is “the focus of evil in the modern world.” It is beyond outrageous. It is sick. The man is sick in his theologically and ideologically poisoned mind. This is more than the usual “decadent west” column that conservatives like Buchanan feel they have to write now and then in order to remind their followers that this ain’t your white granddaddy’s America anymore (he says: “Our grandparents would not recognize the America in which we live,” without mentioning that African-American grandparents wouldn’t recognize a Jim Crow-less America either.) This is a call for Christian America (“We are two countries now,” Buchanan says) to embrace a Russian thug because that Russian thug embraces the Culture War that white conservative Christians have been fighting, and losing, at least since Bill Buckley squirmed out of his mother’s belly.
But as a former fanatical follower of Bill Buckley, I just can’t imagine that if he were still among the living he would side with Buchanan in his absolute loathing of “Barack Obama’s America” or endorse his weird attraction to a former Russian KGB Lieutenant Colonel. But he might. We live in unbelievably strange times. Conservatism has rotted from the inside because of the ancient hate it refuses to relinquish. It has fallen so far that some conservatives even hate their own country and are erect with pride as they jump into bed with a sleazy Russian reactionary, who happens to hate many of the same things they have always hated.
In an odd way, Pat Buchanan has done us a favor by writing his Putin-loving column. He has shown us that the heart of 21st-century American conservatism is very cold, unquestionably dark, and, sadly, unpatriotic.