Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Then They Came For Me...



First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Sorry for the melodrama, but today it truly fits. Reading around to all the blogs yesterday I came across an article on Pam's House Blend that talks about a topic that I mentioned here, earlier this week...Uganda and how America has a hand in whats happening there. The article from The Blend detailed a conversation between the author, Maura Hennessey, and a friend discussing the Ugandan bill that will result in imprisonment and/or death for Ugandan gays. While I can't agree with all of the articles sentiments, it does make some interesting observations about future implications if America continues to remain silent about Uganda's "final solution".

I don't know what people think when they read about Uganda and what may soon take place there. I'm sure that for some people it will all be too far away for them to care. While others may watch with a feeling of helplessness. But we need to care about what happens here, and Iraq, and in other countries where killing gays equates to righteous enactment of the law. America helped make this happen and while it is only a pebble dropping into the greater ocean...those ripples will return to us and no one is on ground high enough to escape that.



In giving the reasons for America's silence on the issue the conversation quotes:

.....that the US could not afford to point the finger as it had not only tolerated the export of evangelical intolerance but had encouraged it as an official foreign policy from the era of Ronald Reagan onward, resulting in the deplorable rule of Fujimori in Peru and various Guatemalan right wing movements as well as a creeping infestation of the Mexican Government.

In that era, it was all about combating communism and ending the influence of left-wing clerics supporting "Liberation Theology" The US was actively involved in brokering what kind of religions would be supported in South American nations in order to attain a foreign policy goal. Were the US to condemn Uganda strongly now, the States might be embarrassed as other instances of US expansion of the rule of their First Amendment "The Freedom to Worship Jesus in Whatever Right Wing Evangelical Fashion That A Person Might Choose" would eventually come up and prove to be a liability to American political interests south of the Rio Grande.


So the churches and every politician who support them by working to manipulate the governments of other countries might have to answer some embarrassingly tough questions?...Tough. Maybe then we would get the message that using our beliefs as a justification to destabilize governments we don't agree with, eliminates the merits of those beliefs because are not practicing what we are preaching.



But more practically, how can this affect us? How can laws in one African nation return to haunt us in America?

She continued "I heard that people are upset by the comparison of the gays to Africans(Black Americans). They should be. Gays are not the Nuevos Negros, they are the Nuevos Judíos (new Jews). Sooner or later, the killings will begin, and not only in Uganda. And then, what do we do? Who will invade Nigeria, Columbia, Guatemala, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia as the Churches see the US and Europe do nothing to stop Uganda? American churches will block any move to intervene and are just waiting for things to get worse in the States to begin such laws there. The danger is from the American's own house, and their Lesbianas y Hombres Homosexuales are blind or worse, indifferent. It may not happen there(in the States) but the Churches will try it there. We could win in Uganda, now, if we were to act, but if we don't, it will be most of the world against the gays and insisting on the right to destroy them if we do nothing, and that only in a few short years."

In short, she summarised, America created this movement, a colonialisation of religion masquerading as anti-colonialism. It exported this parasitic infestation of other nations' foreign policy disguised as self-determination by a single American political party and their right wing religious allies. Either American strongly denounces BOTH the policy and their own churches that largely manipulated its enactment, or the US gays and Lesbians can watch, "probably on television in the bars" the foreshadowing of their own possible future as the hangings are broadcast and the casualty numbers rise.


Now, this quote has a strong anti-American tone and ideas that belong strictly to the person who made it...but it does offer some really good points.

The logic goes thus...Uganda passes this bill and begins to arrest a few of its gay citizens, because you know they already have a list and they've checked it more than twice. America's response is tepid, fearing that its own connections to the evangelical groups tied to this bill will come to light. Then, other nations, seeing that response, decide that the time is right to make scapegoats out of their own gays and begin to consider their own laws. So, it spreads...not to every country...but to those already ideologically primed to make this move. We then have a huge human rights crisis on multiple fronts.

Meanwhile...back in the States the our hypothetical Evangelicals begin considering that the time has come to move beyond simply blocking rights, to actually moving to remove existing ones. They may begin by placing pressure on politicians in office, and up for election, threatening them and questioning their personal faith in public forums(they've already promised to do this and its printed in their manifesto) unless they comply with what they brand as "the will of the people". We've already created precedence for mob rule at the voting booth through voting on the marriage rights of GLBTQ people....which some courts have allowed to stand as "constitutional".

I need to say emphatically that I don't believe that America's gays and lesbians "are blind or worse". We are watching and we do care...but we also need everyone to speak up....that's the only way our lawmakers get scared enough to take action that they should take anyway, out of sheer conscience....there should be an outcry against this just as there was for the genocide in Darfur.

While I don't believe that the GLBTQ community is indifferent, I DO believe that there is a lack of focus on the bigger picture. We bicker over what year to push forward for marriage equality in California, question why we should support causes that don't directly affect us as individuals, question why our sexuality should be discussed while lawmakers enact laws based on that same sexuality, and generally refuse to acknowledge that there are people out that gunning for us. That as we allow one group of people to fall under the blade...so also do we slowly erode the ground we stand on and while it may not give way today...as with all such things, it may happen suddenly and without warning.

How to help? Fire off a few emails and let our elected officials know what we believe in.

Follow this link to send an Email to President Obama and our elected representatives:

www.usa.gov

or....

Contact the United Nations at www.un.org or email at: inquiries@un.org

5 comments:

  1. You know, Bryan, you're right, of course, that we should react and everything.

    I just wanted to elaborate on why do we care so much about marriage equality on the grand scale, why should we be bothered with this right now, not waiting for the rest of the world to keep up with simple abolishing of criminal prosecution of sexual minorities, and why do I for one support these issues in the USA, though I don't live there and not planning to. I believe that the USA is in position to set an example for the rest of the world. A good example that would be followed (or at least considered with a great deal of trust) by others.

    Yes, there are 7 countries that already legalized same-sex marriages, but those are not the USA, those have no power, no history and, apparently, not so much struggle with the issue, especially religious struggle. And the whole Christian world is not so much looking at Vatican, everyone's looking at the USA, which is a really religious country, too much religious. They wanna know how it's gonna play out, how much compromise between human rights and faith is enough.

    So, yes, it's important to get ALL rights in place and to start building a more accepting and welcoming society to show the rest of the world that these things can, in fact, coexist. If we give up here, if we stop for a moment and say that our opponents are right, we'll give up so much more out there, in the rest of the world that's looking up to us right here, on the front line of this struggle.

    So, now we have to double our efforts to fight on several fronts, otherwise we won't make it, indeed. Just don't forget that the struggle here is also important, and though it doesn't seem like something that can compare with gay genocide out there, it has another value for us, both gay Americans and other gay earthlings: it's a hope for better future, a way to coexist and thrive.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Its also important because our world is too small and too interconected these days. Its not like news has to cross oceans in the satchel of a man aboard ship..takingmonths to arive. News from abroad now happens in the blink of an eye.

    Its important because we shouldn't select on issue over another as they a part of the whole fabric of the issue of what it means to be seen as an equall human being.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This whole phase of evangelical missionary needs to come to an end. An early period of European christian spread has brought many bad things to many places in the world and the new American iteration seems to be rubbing all the bad stuff it.

    Why is it that when churches get involved abroad they always feel the need to spread hatred and negativity? Not just on gay issues either.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Extremely moved and upset about this Uganda story. I have been told by some friends when voicing my dismay about the Prop 8 and the recent Maine upset, that I should be more concerned about issues in my own backyard. That, as a Canadian - a married gay Canadian, I should now move my priorities to other issues that need suport.

    Well, the world is my backyard, and what happens in the USA and overseas happens to other human beings who deserve to be treated with respect and equality. If we, who live in relative comfort and safety don't speak out, we will be guilty of culpable negligence.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My letter to Obama:

    Dear Mr. President!

    I am a homosexual man, I live in Russia, a country that practically refuses to recognize my very existence, and from time to time the federal legislature tries to re-criminalize homosexuality to put me and other gay people in jail.

    The reason I write you about this is the policy the USA has concerning treatment of gay people around the world. As you may know, Uganda is going to criminalize homosexuality and incarcerate gay people for lifetime sentence just for being gay, and to execute them for having sexual contact with minors (so-called "aggravated homosexuality"); also to charge people with misprision of a criminal and sentence them to 3 years of prison if they fail to report a gay person in 24 hours.

    I believe the USA is partially responsible for the course of action its policy took in Uganda, for export of religion. We all know that Christianity considers homosexuality one of the worst sins, and the Bible says sodomites "must be put to death" (Leviticus 20:13). And this passage is being interpreted literally by sponsors of new bill in Uganda who decided to criminalize homosexuality on the basis of their new religious beliefs.

    Christianity is one of the major religions in the USA, but the state is separated from the church. The federal government you lead does not prosecute or persecute homosexual Americans, in fact, homosexual people are entitled to equal protections, just like any other American, for it is a human rights question, one of the most recognized universal set of rights that should be abided all around the world. And you, as a leader of your country and your nation, should be compelled to support these rights not only on the American soil, but all around the world, regardless of your personal religious beliefs.

    Today, on December 10th (World Human Rights Day), I urge you, on behalf of all homosexual people in my country, in Uganda and around the world, to publicly criticize and condemn Ugandan government's bill to criminalize homosexuality that contradicts human rights of innocent Ugandan people. If we remain silent and let this happen, the governments of other countries may decide that it is permissible to destroy human rights of particular group of people and institute genocide. And I am afraid for my life, because my country may become one of those that would eventually decide to outlaw me for being gay.

    I urge you to protect human rights and to stop genocide!

    Sincerely yours,
    undersigned

    ReplyDelete