It’s been interesting to watch right wing Republicans back pedal on their bromance with Putin. Before the Ukrainian War, they fawned all over him, despite the fact he is a documented fascist, a psychotic dictator who fights democracy with draconian, violent measures, including the murder and torture of dissidents. Putin’s Presidential opponent, Alexei Navalny, was poisoned, and then imprisoned.
The question screams out: how could any American support such a despot? Trump called him a genius for invading Ukraine. In other words, Trump supported the fact that Putin is seeking to obliterate a Democracy. Wait, what? Yes, Trump choose the side of the dictator, not the Democratic state of Ukraine.
But how could this be? What is the tie that binds?
Putin: “Properly speaking, the attempts to use us in their own interests never ceased until quite recently: they sought to destroy our traditional values and force on us their false values that would erode us, our people from within, the attitudes they have been aggressively imposing on their countries, attitudes that are directly leading to degradation and degeneration, because they are contrary to human nature. This is not going to happen. No one has ever succeeded in doing this, nor will they succeed now.”
“Traditional Values,” where have I heard that term before? Oh yeah, the religious right. They are all about “Traditional Values.” Won’t shut up about “Traditional Values.” For the religious right, “Traditional Values” is their euphemism for homophobia.
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – “Right-wing U.S. groups have put more than $280 million into campaigns against LGBT+ rights and abortion worldwide since 2007, almost $90 million of which focused on Europe, according to a report on Tuesday.”
That’s a lot of freakin’ money dedicated to suppressing the basic human rights of another human being. Aren’t we all children of God? Didn’t our Constitution mention something about ‘all men are created equal’. Where does this hate and fear spring from?
“For years, this part of the American right has viewed Russia as a white Christian bastion of traditional values. The Russian leadership plays into this narrative, too; Sergei Naryshkin, Russia’s intelligence chief, said this month that the West was trying to “cancel” his country. If you see Russia merely as an extension of yourself and your political project in the United States, then it is difficult to part with it.”
“White Christian bastion,” the key word being ‘white.’ To put it simply: for Republicans, stamping out homosexuality trumps democracy. It is why they can embrace Putin, who fathered an espionage campaign designed to obliterate homosexuality in Russia, a crusade that includes the murder and incarceration of LGBT Russians.
Madison Cawthorn has declared Zelenskyy a thug; Marjorie Taylor Greene has labeled Zelenskyy a dictator while also parroting Russian propaganda and disinformation. Trump has called Putin a genius while Tucker Carlson’s disinformation is now posted on Russian propaganda news outlets.
But why? Why this embrace of a violent, paranoid fascist? What are Putin and the religious right afraid of?
The United States has a history of gay politicians hiding in the closet who, ironically, work to suppress legislation designed to grant basic civil rights to LGBT citizens. It’s a subterfuge they adopt to camouflage their sexual orientation, a cover-up our patriarchal society demands of LGBT people in the public domain.
To name a few:
“Sen, Carl Kruger, who voted against marriage equality in New York State. “
“Troy King, the Alabama Attorney General who was reportedly caught by his wife in bed with a male assistant, had made anti-gay rhetoric part of his political mantra.”
“Curtis, who served as a Republican member of the Washington State House of Representatives from 2005 to 2007 and voted against a domestic partnership bill and a bill that would have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
“In Congress, Bauman established a reputation as a staunch conservative, often criticizing the state of morality in the United States. He was a founding member of several conservative activist groups including the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and the American Conservative Union (ACU), where he served both as national chairman. In 1980, while running for re-election, his own morality was questioned when he was charged for attempting to solicit sex from a 16-year-old male prostitute.”
“In 2011, it was revealed that Puerto Rican Senator Robert Arango, who was a vocal enemy of gay marriage and rights in San Juan, had posted shirtless photos of himself on the gay dating mobile app Grindr. Amidst the ensuing controversy, Arango resigned.”
In America, the patriarchal infrastructure requires subjugation of one’s true nature to anyone who seeks entrance into the halls of power. Our racist, homophobic power structure stems from the dissemination of fear, prejudice, and disinformation. Afro-Americans know this force firsthand. During reconstruction, there were measures and laws designed to suppress their very existence, including public hangings. It was illegal for them to read, meet in groups, vote. They lived under the repressive terrorism of the KKK, which sought to deny their very existence. And the list goes on. The toxicity bred by the anti-gay movement has continually sought to castrate fellow citizens, dehumanizing them, which opens the door to violence against them. It is a logical progression from racism.
“Two years after reports of a ‘gay purge’ sent shockwaves worldwide, it’s clear that the perpetrators have gone unpunished because of state-sponsored homophobia and impunity for human rights violations in Chechnya.” Amnesty International.
The religious right would salivate at the idea of a ‘gay purge.’ But it’s just sexual orientation, not the Covid-19 pandemic, nothing to be afraid of. Before the BIG LIE, there was another BIG LIE: gays are all pedophiles, laying in wait, ready to snatch your kids and indoctrinate them into the gay lifestyle. This rhetoric got people elected, and the dog whistle of anti-gay rhetoric continues today by appealing to our most base instincts. Gays are dehumanized, scapegoated, both requisite in suppressing a whole swath of the population. Labeling helps to condone violence and discrimination. Afro-Americans were labeled as animals in pro-slavery propaganda, which the law codified, the pastors justified, resulting in suppression and violence.:
“While the early Christian right groups were motivated primarily by antisemitism, anticommunism, and the defense of racial segregation, they also expressed fear about changes in the nuclear family and the relationship between the sexes. By the 1970s, when open espousals of antisemitism and racism were no longer socially acceptable, blacks and Jews were largely replaced by gays and feminists.” John Gallagher and Chris Bull Washington Post
The advocation by Trump and his acolytes of family values reveals the hypocrisy of the movement. Under Trump, the separation of babies from their mothers and fathers ruffled no feathers in their conscience, the incarceration of toddlers ruffled no feathers in their conscience, the placement of grade school children in shelters with histories of sexual and physical abuse ruffled no feathers in their conscience, and the fact they had no plan to reunite 2342 children with their parents, well, if that is family values then…
Family values is simply a license to hate. Putin knows this. Back in the day, the right-wing movement was saturated with racism, blacks being the faggots, with a Bible thumping pastor finding Biblical references to justify the terrorism.
To answer my question: it is the paranoid fear of gays and lesbians that is the connective tissue between a maniacal despot and the far right. And speaking of paranoia, Putin recently laid off a thousand workers because of a fear of being poisoned. That is next level paranoia, paranoia on steroids. Like all dictators, he has someone taste his food before he eats it. I wonder what that job pays.
Hang in there as I’m coming to the point. You’ve all seen those pictures of Putin on horseback, shirtless? Some people describe him in those pictures as masculine, sexy. But some people would describe those pictures as pretty damn gay, a lonely man trapped in the closet. There are other signs: have you ever seen a picture of Putin with a woman? Is Putin a kind, sensitive soul, trapped in the closet, terrified to bare his soul to the world? Perhaps if he could reveal his true self, he might find it in his heart not to bomb maternity hospitals, children, or civilians. As those American, closeted gay, self-loathing politicians who campaigned and voted against gay rights; perhaps Putin, a prisoner in the closet, wallowing in self-loathing, could break free and no longer feel compelled to assert his manhood by bombing children.
Perhaps all this bombing is simply Putin acting out, trying desperately to prove his manhood, show the world how big his dick is. Our former President built his career on talking about how big his dick was. (But those small hands…that might have been the first BIG LIE of his tenure.)
As the war escalates, each warring country demonstrating how big their dick is—oops, I mean how big their arsenal is, perhaps someone close to Putin can gently guide him out of the closet, and peace and joy will spread throughout the land.
Let us pray!
Curt Strickland is one of the principal owners of Great American Art, an art and design company located outside Boston. Founded almost 40 years ago, Great American Art designs, manufactures and installs art throughout the country. Curt is also one of the principle photographers for Great American, specializing in landscape and cityscape images. His philosophy as an artist is embraced in GAPCO’s mission:
“Art should serve to heal, inspire, provoke, challenge and to offer hope – but most of all to connect… to remind us of our common humanity.”