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Homosexuality is the new imperialistic threat?

May 19, 2009

The American Prospect has a very good piece on global Homophobia.  It asks the question, is homophobia the new anti-Semitism?

I am not entirely sure I agree about the author on that point, but she makes a few good points:

But there are some underlying themes, enough so that it’s possible to talk about global homophobia as a single concept, akin to anti-Semitism. Indeed, worldwide, the rhetoric of homophobia recapitulates the tropes of classical Jew hatred. Gay people are seen as a subversive internal enemy with dangerous international connections. Even in places where they’ve been cowed into near invisibility, they’re viewed as having an almost occult power. They represent modernism and cosmopolitanism, the bete noirs of every type of fundamentalism.

There is a big difference that Goldberg misses here.  Yes, modern forms of anti-Semitism are fueled by the misconception that Jews are secretly pulling all the government strings, but for centuries this was not the case.  Jews were targets because the church taught that the Jews killed Christ, and therefore are guilty as a collective whole of deicide.  The Catholic church abandoned this idea as church policy (but not until the Second Vatican Council of 1965), but many Christians, and Catholics still believe it.  Not to belittle the constant up-hill battle faced by gays around the world, but being accused of killing the son of God by millions of people is not an easy thing to live with.

The second point the author makes that I found particularly interesting, and the thought I will leave you on is this:

In many Muslim countries, homosexuality is denounced as a decadent and imperialistic imposition. “Almost on a weekly basis you see there’s some sort of article published in the Muslim world blaming the United Nations for promoting homosexuality and basically destroying the fabric of the society,” Alizadeh says. Indeed, such rhetoric sometimes comes from the anti-colonialist left as well as the religious right. In a 2002 article on what he called the “Gay International,” Columbia University professor Joseph Massad presented the global gay-rights movement as an instrument of Western hegemony. “Following in the footsteps of the white Western women’s movement, which had sought to universalize its issues through imposing its own colonial feminism on the women’s movements in the non-Western world … the gay movement has adopted a similar missionary role,” he wrote.

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