Brosplaining Russian Anti-Gay Oppression.
I’m not out to start an intra-blog war. Kazzy isn’t the first one to suggest that the anti-Sochi protests are simply another reclassification of anti-Russia bias. There’s pieces such as the one by Peter Lavelle noting the hyperbolic nature of much of the western media’s criticism. All this would make it seem like there’s a core of anti-Russian bias that’s leading to the protests. To that, I’m simply going to say bollocks.
This isn’t to deny that there’s a lingering strain of Cold War anachronistic takes that Russia is an antithetical US enemy. We hear it all the time from former Cold Warriors that Vlad Putin is Uncle Joe come again, out to divide the world and lock the US out of his sphere of influence. Neoconservative groups take a malicious glee in formulating US-Russia relations as being uniquely antagonistic. But it takes a unique sort of conflation to think these people have anything in common with the Sochi critics other than nationality.
In fact the people most vocal in the protests of Sochi and in Russia’s growing homophobia are likely as not to mock the Cold Warriors. When Mitt Romney declared Russia to be the greatest US geopolitical rival, the collective mockery could be heard across the Bering Strait. You’re likely to find about as much overlap between the Cold Warriors and the critics of Russia’s human rights abuses as you are to find between the NSA and the Guardian’s editorial page.
Indeed the reflexively anti-Russia crowd actually seems to rate Putin rather highly in his effectiveness. Romney (to keep beating the dead horse) praised Putin’s abilities as being superior to that of President Obama. Their objection, it would seem, is really more stemming from the fact that Russia’s not in US orbit. Putin’s his own bastard, rather than their own.
If anything the area where there’s an odd reflexiveness is in defending Russia. Some defend them for giving Edward Snowden asylum, or for “sticking to their guns” on “morality”, or even for their “no-tolerance” policy against Islamists in Chechnya. That all of those things are backed by a regime that regularly stands by as independent journalists are murdered and places severe restrictions on NGO activity, oppresses minorities, and regularly conducts crackdowns on political dissidents seems not to phase them.