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View Diary: Understanding Russia's homophobia (179 comments)

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  •  What I find hardest to comprehend (29+ / 0-)

    is the casual cruelty behind it.  Homophobia, especially for Russians who know nothing about LGBT people and believe they've never met anyone in the community (a whopping 80% of Russians as of March of this year) is at least understandable: the desire to torture a 15 year old, post the videos online, and have a good laugh over it, is not.

    I try to be a good academic and resist sweeping cultural narratives, but it's harder and harder for me to put aside Vasily Grossman's damning critique of Russia in his novel(ish) Everything Flows:

    It is time for the students and diviners of Russia to understand that the mystique of the Russian soul is simply the result of a thousand years of slavery.
    Grossman pulls no punches.  It's an infuriating read.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 04:12:25 PM PDT

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    •  I almost wrote something, above, about (8+ / 0-)

      the 'Clash of Civilizations,' which I think (?) is a conservative justification for Muslims = bad, but sometimes it just feels like we're living in parallel worlds. Not US vs Russia, but modern vs medieval. I mean, there's no shortage of people here who'd happy join in the brutalization, and there's no shortage of Russians, as you said, who are disgusted And yet, trying to use modern ideas to pressure or persuade someone with a medieval mindset simply doesn't work.

      Which is my way of saying, I guess, that I wonder if it is time for the students and diviners of reactionaries to understand that the mystique of the reactionary soul wherever it's found is simply the result of a thousand years of mental slavery.

      (I guess I'm now knuckle-dragging myself even further from the po-mo unwillingness to assert cultural superiority. Who was it who was recently talking about 'mental equipment,' David Brooks? If this trend continues, I'll be completely vapid, and well-employed.)

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 04:33:53 PM PDT

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    •  Humanization vs. Demonization: opposite impulses (7+ / 0-)

      Russia, even more than the USA, has a lot of hate, misunderstanding, and fear of otherness in their history.

      Well, hard to look at such vast and evolving views without oversimplifying. From Peter the Great on, Russia'a also had a lot of adulation of European culture and ideas.

      Humanization vs. Demonization of the alien, the other, the not-us. In a culture, shaped so much by how the other is portrayed in popular media, and also by people's personal experience interacting with those we see as different.

      The mainstreaming and acceptance of LGBTs in the US still has a long way to go, but has advanced enormously in the last few decades. Partly from positive portrayals in popular media. But a huge factor has been so many people looking around them, and realizing they have friends or family who are LGBT, and they're not that alien to us after all.

      Looks to me like: Russia never reached the tipping points we have, where many young people were shown some LGBTs as attractive and inspiring role models. Nor the point where people throughout society started coming out, and in many states and cities that wasn't such a big deal after awhile.

      I'd rather not look deep into Putin's eyes in search of his soul.  But he seems to have a fair amount of perversity in his heart, and a huge amount of narcissism.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 04:44:11 PM PDT

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      •  I think it's also helped in the U.S. that we don't (9+ / 0-)

        really have a moral "other" that the conservative movement has been able to effectively position against LGBT rights.  During the Cold War they used the Soviet Union, but they weren't exactly holding pride parades there.  Nowadays is the Islamic world, and ditto.

        The best they've been able to come up with is France.  Look at how the eyes of FOX pundits turn red whenever the word "France" is brought up!  But if you're trying to turn France into your opposing moral compass, you're not going to get very far, because most Americans could not care less.

        In Russia it's a different story: they've defined themselves by/against the "West" for centuries.  It's an easy hate to harness.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 05:00:56 PM PDT

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        •  We've seen so much mainstreaming of hate in the US (7+ / 0-)

          just in the last two decades. Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh made it cool to break precious things (a working govt., respect for human beings) and laugh about it.

          So much joy in Obama rodeo clowns, hating Pelosi and San Francisco, Paula Deen and Zimmerman being cherished in Georgia and Florida . . . Yay, Freedom Fries.

          But the hate subverts, and spreads, corrupts our discourse and degrades us all. We live in a stupid pie-fight.

          See what it did - it sucked me in right there. You have a good day, pico. Your diary is clear and helpful.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 05:14:46 PM PDT

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    •  Don't you think, however, (7+ / 0-)

      That this casualty cruelty is part of the "thug culture" ( can't think of a better term at the moment) that characterizes many extreme nationalist movements -- especially those populated by young people?

      Skin heads no matter what language they speak exist on a sub culture of violence and cruelty.


      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 06:05:47 PM PDT

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      •  Sure: not for nothing are they (5+ / 0-)

        categorized as neo-Nazis.  Funny/sad that a Nazi movement could gain so much traction in a country that knew firsthand what Nazi oppression looked like.

        I think what I'm finding hard to understand is their popularity both with the general public and with enough of the government to be severely worried.  Martsinkevich was technically convicted for "inciting racial violence", spent next to no time in prison (sentenced twice, time knocked off for good behavior both times), and currently lives on donations.  He actually organizes "safaris" for fellow pedophile-hunters.  He has a group called Occupy Pedophilia, which is sort of unintentionally hilarious, in a grim sort of way.

        In that Vanguard documentary, there's a chilling interview with a member of the Duma who openly supports their work.

        Something I get into below, about the propensity of Russian fanatics to look for extreme ways to show their devotion to the Cause (church, nation, communism, race) is what's really eating away at me.  There's something of Nechaev in it.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 06:34:38 PM PDT

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    •  The thousand years of slavery is literally true (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, melo, Brecht, Cassandra Waites

      going back to the Swedish conquest of Kiev. Yes, Vikings came out of the north and down the rivers all the way to the Black Sea. Then there were the Teutonic Knights out of the west, the Mongol/Tatar yoke out of the east, the Turks in the south, and total, brutal, homegrown autocracy and empire, humiliation by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War, and World War I from the West, all followed by Lenin and Stalin, including the horrors of World War II.

      Russia has never had anything like the political and religious evolution of Europe, including its various wars of religion and edicts of tolerance, its Enlightenment and its various topplings and restorations of Kings. It never had the Western notions that religion was a higher power than the state (for good and ill in various circumstances) or that human rights should trump both.

      I wonder though—would Russian hypernationalists and homophobes agree with us for their own perverse reasons that moving the Winter Olympics out of Russia would be a good idea? Obviously not if we suggest it to them in that form. It would have to be their idea, forced upon the evil, meddling West over our loud protestations. No, I don't do Machiavelli at all well.

      So never mind that. Even under favorable circumstances a major social transformation such as ending slavery, women's suffrage, or establishing gay rights takes at least 50 years. In each case, the first victory is only the starting point for the next round, which can take another 50-100 years, like official Jim Crow up to the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. And then you start another round.

      If Russia could have organized like China for serious economic growth some time in its past, things would be getting somewhat better now. (China started out so far back economically, with so much damage from civil wars and Japanese occupation, that it is taking much longer to make this transition.) Overreliance on oil exports and lack of interest in exploiting its vast wind and solar resources makes Russia particularly vulnerable to the coming market shift when the rest of the world reaches Grid Parity and abandons fossil carbon.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 11:57:39 PM PDT

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