Some say a diplomatic agreement between Obama and Putin is the only way a USA ‘intervention’ in Syria can be permanently avoided. Should talks between the two countries go sour, recent coverage of the Russian treatment of Queers could help provide the public support Obama needs to defame Russia and justify a preemptive strike that doesn’t have Russian approval. Publishing negative press about Russia, at this point in time, should be taken seriously, as it may have the unintended consequence of drumming up public frustration about Russia at a time when diplomacy is needed.
Our press has done a great job covering the implications and injustices of an oppressive Russian law that shockingly bans the promotion of Queer relationships and rights in front of Russian children. But why, during such a fragile moment in USA-Russia relations are we choosing, among all the unjust laws on Earth, to focus on Russia’s most recent, inexcusable, anti-Queer one?
I understand: if you want to sell newspapers, publishing stories about anti-Queer laws would be a wise choice. People in the USA support same-sex marriage; our Supreme Court recently ruled marriage between people of the same sex is constitutional. We are proud of this accomplishment, and will buy newspapers about how (way) ahead of others we are on the issue.
The practicality of our passion for Russia’s anti-Queer law however is questionable. In her recent Washington Post column, Katrina vanden Heuvel explained how the attention we give Russian internal policy could in fact empower Putin (and Russia’s unjust laws). If the USA speaks out against a Russian law, the Moscow Kremlin can use this publicity as leverage to gather support for the law within Russia, where the USA remains unpopular. Our outspoken opinions about Russia’s most recent draconian law empowers the Kremlin, as vanden Heuvel quotes Russian scholar Dave Zirin, to “portray himself as the defender of the traditional Russian family [from Western culture], Orthodox Christian values and national pride all at once.”
So, if we really cared about our Queer allies in Russia, we’d stay out of it. And if we want the American public to encourage Obama to be diplomatic with Putin and stay out of Syria, we might think twice about pointing out Russia’s flaws at this moment in time.