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Friday, 8 January 2016

A gay African 'anti-imperialism of fools'

As a Brit, perhaps excuse me these issues. They're not new.

The idea of an 'anti-imperialism of fools' is decades old (and behind an effin firewall on a magazine laughingly called 'Dissent').

Fortunately we have Nick effin Cohen via the hyper-capitalist Spectator *for free* to say:
In his Tyranny of Guilt, the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner emphasised the colonial mindset of ‘anti-imperialists’. The West may no longer dominate the world. (We are the first ‘imperialists’ without an empire.) But they can maintain that the West still matters because it is the root cause of the world’s ills. Psychologically, such narcissism is just about understandable as a compensation for decline. One day a cultural historian will notice that the explosion of chest-beating and garment-rending in the West coincided with the shift in economic power to east Asia. But as principled politics, the denial that there are reactionary movements and regimes in the world with motives of their own is a disgrace.
Thus may we view the fact of the New York Times blaming the US State Department for the persecution of gay men in Africa.

For the past few years the US has spoken up for LGBT rights, albeit selectively, worldwide and it has a small, funded support program. For most people this is progress and small beer, for others ... it is the 'Empire' doing its evil thing and promoting 'homocapitalism'.

The context from the Chomskyite left is of Glenn Greenwald telling Malians: 'I don't care what you f&cking think about an Islamist invasion, I know best.' (Which is what he actually did.)

IOW - and we already had a sense from their treatment of Muslim dissenters - it's tinged with racism, we Western lefties know best. 'Pro-gay'=pro-imperialist, in their minds. So of course the Times piece was gloatingly welcomed.

But the voices of actual gay Africans on US engagement with them wasn't heard (as it wasn't, shockingly, in the Times piece). Now they are speaking out.

Jay Michaelson writing in the Daily Beast:
Davis Mac-Iyalla, a Nigerian activist who founded the LGBT Christian organization Changing Nigeria in 2005, is one such person. “Obama raising the LGBT issue was marvelous,” Mac-Iyalla told The Daily Beast. “The African LGBT struggle could not have come this far without the support of the West.”

Mac-Iyalla also points out that the real turning point in terms of African perceptions of homosexuality as “Western” resulted not from U.S. foreign aid, but from the Anglican Communion’s evolution on the issue, beginning at the 1998 conference in Canterbury and culminating in the 2003 ordination of the first openly gay bishop, Bishop Gene Robinson.
Here's what the Times handed to African LGBT opponents and the Obama hate crowd:
Finally, the Times article radically overstated the amount of U.S. spending in the area, citing a figure of $700 million. That claim was duly repeated by anti-gay organizations like the Family Research Council (which, in a nice leftward turn, accused the U.S. of “cultural imperialism”) and websites like Breitbart.

But that figure includes the total amount spent on all “vulnerable populations” for public health purposes, not just LGBT people. According to Andrew Park, director of International Programs at the Williams Institute, which studies issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, the actual figure is closer to $7 million—two orders of magnitude off.
The $700m figure is BS. And that BS still isn't corrected on the piece.
In fact, the only thing the Times got right was its impersonation of African anti-gay activists, who routinely say that homosexuality is a Western invention, a Western sin, or a Western value. They are the ones who link the justified rage at 300 years of Western depredation of Africa with opposition to contemporary Western policies. In what is now a series of articles, the Times has endorsed this view.
Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of HRAPF
This article has stirred so much that a number of African gay activists have publicly come out against it (comment from
“I read the article … with a lot of disbelief,” says Adrian Jjuuko, veteran Ugandan activist and executive director of the Uganda’s LGBTI-friendly legal organization, the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF). The article described “a very different reality from what I as an activist …  have experienced,” he says.

“The US support was always done in a respectful way and after consultations with activists on the ground,” Jjuuko writes in a letter to the editor of the New York Times.

In addition to Jjuuko, critics citing the Times article’s inaccuracies have included:
Why should anyone be unsurprised that Africans are upset at a Times piece which quotes Obama critics but not fans?

Those, of course, who value Western criticism above African opinion.

And, oh look, it just happens to exactly match that coming from the US far right. Funny, that.


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