Principle by Nebdem
“What, are we supposed to follow along like obedient lapdogs, towards whatever consequences await?” he asked. “We have our own traditions, our own culture. We have respect for all of our international partners and ask that they also respect our own traditions and culture.” Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin is correct that Russia does have its own “traditions” and “culture.” It is also true the United States has its own “culture” and “traditions.” In the United States, the LGBT community over the past decade has made tremendous gains; they now find themselves enmeshed in American society (“culture”) more so now than at any time before in American history. These gains were sought by the LGBT community as well as by the citizens of the United States that are not members of the LGBT community. These gains were reached because in the United States there is a strong “tradition” among its citizens to break down every wall of discrimination, instead of erecting new walls of discrimination.
For almost a century the Republican Party was unified in its apprehension towards the communist government of the U.S.S.R. President Ronald Reagan, the patriarch of modern Conservatism is often quoted for calling for the tearing down of the Berlin Wall (A symbol of Communism). Leaving aside Reagan’s personal feelings towards the LGBT community for the moment, because that is something well documented it would be clear though to surmise that at the least Reagan himself would take issue with Russia granting Edward Snowden asylum, to which several Republicans have used as a justification to Boycott the Sochi games. While it is true that Russia now is not a communist country, to say that it is a democratic country would be a stretch.
What does it say about the Republican Party who are not standing up for the rights of the people in this country (LGBT), and for Gay people throughout the world to live peaceful lives in a society which is democratic and seeks to tear down every wall of discrimination directed against a particular segment within that society. Not even during the Cold War would Republicans dare side with the Russians about their treatment towards oppressing a minority let alone the mistreatment of any segment of a society that was being abused by an oppressive government?
“One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there. And if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then it probably makes their team weaker.” President Obama
The suggestions floated by members of the Democratic Party to Boycott the Sochi Olympics on the grounds of the Russian treatment towards Gay people were quelled by President Obama, who sees the Olympics as an opportunity to reject “the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there [Russia],” by proving them wrong through athletic accomplishments in a symbolic nature. And as Jesse Owens proved the racial superiority fallacy of Nazi Germany completely wrong, so too in theory, Gay athletes may prove the Russian policy wrong. The United States is sending to the Sochi Games as ambassadors accomplished Gay athletes. It is an Honorable thing being done by those Gay ambassadors to travel to Sochi and display the Rainbow Flag during the opening ceremony, but whether Gay athletes bring or do not bring home a medal, all athletes returning to the United States will come home welcomed as winners regardless, but for Gay people in Russia, once the games are over the climate in Russia will only become worse for them. What immediate impact did Jesse Owens accomplishments in the Berlin games have upon the way the African American community was treated after he returned? A symbolic victory indeed which was championed in the African American community, as well as the within the whole society, but Owens accomplishments didn’t change the social conditions for the African Americans in the United States at that time, but it did give them a champion. One thing for certain is that the Gay athletes returning to the United States after the Sochi Winter Olympics will return to a better environment than the environment Jesse Owens returned to. Though there may be a Press Relation agenda being made by the United States at the Sochi Winter Olympics, PR will not change the reality on the ground for the Gay people in Russia, having said that there is still merit in the accomplishment in the face of adversity; it will create champions for the Gay people throughout the world.
The Sochi Winter Olympics will soon begin. In Russia there has been a rise of violence by terrorist groups (which in itself is a separate topic altogether). Giving the concerns about the security situation, as well as the clear differences of opinion about how Gay people are treated and included in the Russian society. In my opinion it would have been a strong signal by the United States to BOYCOTT these games simply on PRINCIPLE, but that time has come and gone. My greatest concern is that as the games take place there will be a rise in violence against Gay people in Russia, as well as the specter of death caused by terrorism, and after the games- the treatment towards Gays in Russia will worsen.
Not for one moment do I place any measure of trust nor an expectation of trust in Vladimir Putin, with those feelings set aside. It really bothers me that the United States is not leading the world on this issue. The intolerance against Gay people is on the rise throughout the world. It may be an overreach on my part to say, but I fear that Gay people face the danger of being treated as the Jewish people were treated in the 20th century. The rise of fundamentalism threatens the protection of minorities in every country on the face of the Earth.
The only way to stop this trend is to draw a line in the snow, and to say ‘No, this isn’t going to happen on our watch.’ Spare me the PR campaign. Yes, these athletes have been training for years to perform in these games, but what is more important: the chance to win a medal, or, a chance to stand up for a PRINCIPLE, a DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE? I do not blame the athletes if they want to participate, because through sports many barriers have been shattered, but in this situation I feel that to refuse to participate in these games itself is an accomplishment more worthy than any piece of metal on this planet crafted into a medal. The Symbolism of such an act would echo longer than any national anthem playing on a podium. In the event that tragedy strikes these games it is best left as being described as “Comparable negligence,” because after the Olympic games the situation in Russia for Gay people I fear will worsen. All Putin needs is a pretext to cause more outbursts of violence against the Gay community in Russia. Protests by the Gay community and by advocates during the Sochi Winter Olympics will give him a pretext to allow the intolerance to continue.