Once upon a time, not very long ago, the world went to war over persecution and genocide of the Jews. A little while later, economic sanctions and political action were taken against a repressive regime over the persecution of people on the grounds of race to bring down the social system known as Apartheid. It will be very interesting to see what gets said and done by the major players about the persecution and genocide of gay people around the world today. Not that I am in favor of war of course, but I am simply drawing a comparison here on the all too apparent variable value of human life.
Today if you ask anyone too young to remember, which is probably the majority of the world's population, what they think the reason for WW2 was, or what stands out most about it to them - it will usually be the Holocaust and the annihilation of six million people through a thoroughly mechanized and organized premeditated means. This is no doubt a text book response, as many would like to believe that the modern world, advanced and forward thinking and liberal, was outraged at the rise of fascism and the catastrophic loss of life at their hands. Of course, many people knew about the persecution of the Jews and other minorities by the Nazis before the war, and many went off to war because of this, but that is not why the war happened, nor why it was fought.
Unfortunately WW2 like most other wars started over greed, power, ambition, territory and nationalism. Propaganda though made it all seem very moral, didn't it? I find it sad that the League of Nations didn't do something decisive about the persecution of minorities (including gay and trans people) from the rise of the Nazi party from before the war until some time mid-way through the war. Yet the racism and heterosexism in nazi Germany was well known through the West even before the violence of Kristallnacht in 1938, and still it went unchallenged.
Even despite a plethora of evidence, including documentary and photographic evidence, Holocaust revisionists today - who are beyond a doubt right wing conservatives, make some rather extraordinary if not bizarre claims. Some claim the Holocaust never happened. Some claim that gay people were part and parcel of the persecution - and not victims of it, as all the evidence clearly shows. At the time the USA - and indeed the bulk of European society bought into similar ideas about Jews and Black people as what the Nazi's did - institutionalized racism - though probably just not as extreme. Let's face it - most of our forbears were a bunch of common or garden racists. European countries had had their own colonies for decades and were used to treating their colonial native inhabitants more like the irritating blots on the scenery than actual human beings. The indigenous populaton in America were of course getting a very raw deal - and for all I can tell, still are. Have they ever been reimbursed for the land that was taken away from them by force? Have they even received a formal apology from the Federal Government for the atrocities committed against their race? No, they were fought for it fair and square, I hear some folks say... So once again "might makes right".
Now please don't get me wrong - I'm not anti-American at all. It has always amused me though, being South African, that people who live in a country where there was a much longer history of Black slavery and disenfranchisement and even persecution, the forced removal of indigenous populations and their enclosure in "reserves" and so on - had the nerve to point fingers at South Africa during the Apartheid years - even though up to this very minute there are still large groups of racists in the US - some who make racist slurs against President Obama simply because he is not White and has a name that doesn't sound Christian or Puritan enough for them - or because he has done so much in his short term of office thus far to advance the cause of human rights than the Republicans have tried to destroy in the last 8 years. Once again do not mistake my point here for defending a bunch of petty racist thugs who ran my home country for so many years - I am simply trying to point out the obvious hypocrisy and irony in this.
Did they not know the state of their own country while they were pointing fingers? Or did they not want to know? Denial is more than just a river in Egypt. One thing is certain. Propaganda sure works.
Indeed it does - and ironically when you present the truth which unmasks they perpetrators of all manner of nasty things, they take umbrage and confront you from the higher ground by claiming that it is "propaganda"... hence the ongoing and bitter battle around equality for the pink community drags on and on... a vicious circle - and whoever gives up first, concedes defeat.
Now let's move on to more current events: Yesterday for the first time I heard a news snippet on the radio about the ongoing and rising murders of gay people in Iraq. Not really news to me, as it has been reported on gay news sites on the web for some months now - but what made it stand out to me was the fact that I heard it on a mainstream news broadcast. In short, it is getting so bad now that even the straights are noticing.
News of this sort is not really unusual or very out of the ordinary if you are part of our community. After all, if you keep tabs on international pink news you hear about the deaths from gay-bashing, homophobia here, transphobia there - marriage equality being denied, homosexuality being outlawed, law suits for discrimination all over the planet - and the occasional violent incident like the terror attack on the gay youth center in Tel Aviv two weeks ago. We hear about gay youths being murdered by the Iranian state - hung for being gay. Occasionally there are some harrowing reports of gay murders in Jamaica - up to this point called the most homophobic place on Earth - up till now that is. I would postulate that that title has now been claimed by Iraq, and most enthusiastically.
It seems homosexuality is not officially illegal in Iraq, but Muslim clerics have continually spoken out against it and recently begun calling for the "peaceful eradication" of it - whatever that means.
Militant militias have arisen since the fall of Saddam Hussein, and now it seems these groups - which are without exception violently anti-gay - have taken to grabbing effeminite looking men off the street, or abducting individuals suspected of being homosexual from their homes, even in the presence of their families. Reports tell how these men are tortured and interrogated to reveal names of other gay men - for later collection. What follows is unequivocally brutal. Either they are shot or maimed with sharp instruments, or their anuses are glued shut with surgical tissue adhesive (glue) - and force-fed a powerful laxative. They die agonizing deaths. Their bodies are often found dumped in the street, disfigured to indicate in no uncertain terms why they were murdered.
I have seen this seemingly wanton yet systematic extermination reported on the web as a "pogrom" - the same word used to describe what was done to the Jewish population of Europe under Nazi influence during the 1920's and 30's. But it is more than that. In those days there was no real incident to measure the full extent - the ramifications of what it really means. Nowadays, we can look back at history to know what it means, and give it a name so chilling it makes one wonder if the human race has actually advanced at all beyond the likes of predators and cannibals and is in any way worthy to walk the Earth or see the sun.
From the Wikipedia article on genocide:
"In 1996 Gregory Stanton the president of Genocide Watch presented a briefing paper called "The 8 Stages of Genocide" at the United States Department of State. In it he suggested that genocide develops in eight stages that are "predictable but not inexorable".The Stanton paper was presented at the State Department, shortly after the Rwanda genocide and much of the analysis is based on why that genocide occurred. The preventative measures suggested, given the original target audience, were those that the United States could implement directly or use their influence on other governments to have implemented."
One of the points mentioned in this report states that "genocide is always organized". And events in Iraq have moved beyond the isolated incidents of gay-bashing and random hatred in media intended to polarize Iraqi society. It has gone a step further you see - through all of the 8 points - because now there are organized militias specializing in this dirty business - death squads. And the Iraqi government is doing far too little - if anything- to rectify this rapidly deteriorating situation. In the end, whether or not the Iraqi government is complicit or not, the result is still the same. Gay people are being murdered wholesale simply for existing, in an organized campaign. It may not be Rwanda, it may not be xenophobia - but that doesn't alter what it is.
The question begs to be asked - considering the Stanton Report above dating as far back as an evaluation of the Rwanda Genocide of 1994 indicates that the reoccurrence of genocide in the future was anticipated or being prepared for - now that it has, what will the USA do about it? What will the civilized world do about it? The US formed the new Iraqi government and seeded their new democracy - all right that is an independent state, but the USA still has a lot of influence with that government, especially when it comes to support and economics etc. I suggest the US State dept impresses upon them the need for them to make a convincing effort to stop human rights abuses - or the USA might cut back on aid and support. That would at least be a start. There are also many gay refugees trying to flee the country through a safe-house network, the US and other Western powers could also offer them sanctuary - or at least safe passage to safer destinations outside Iraq, perhaps to another country willing to offer them assylum or refugee status.
It has been pointed out that the global problem with our community is that our advocacy groups and organizations are too fractured and too small to impact the total pink community. Many are intent on keeping their own little patches in the spotlight instead of focusing on the greater good of the community they serve. Some allow professional jealousy to impact on their service delivery - or they become distracted by other social issues which are not related to serving the pink community. If they could join forces, make formal alliances and co-operate together on a permanent basis and actually act as one community the pink community globally would be a social and political force to be reckoned with - and could accomplish the things we all want - equality, civil rights, and an end to institutionalized prejudice and discrimination. What I am talking about here is unity - both as a community - the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities - and of course in terms of representation - and purpose.
The decided advantage the religious right conservatives - okay, let's call a spade a spade - gay haters - have over the pink community today is a) mass ignorance - their followers don't know any better - and they are so conditioned to believe what they are told, that they don't want to know the facts - or the truth. b) Organizational structure - every town has a church or two, cities have hundreds - and if they are anti-gay and all in contact and co-operation in anti-gay activities they form a formidable network. (And they have the cheek to call us getting "organized" a sinister agenda!) If only the pink community could equal this level of infrastructure and support!
It has been coming for some time, this Pink Holocaust. In other places there has been a low incidence of hate crime against the pink community, but it has been escalating of late - and it has just entered the next phase, being this horrible dehumanizing shameful thing called genocide, specifically focused on the pink community. It is a thing which takes away from the collective human spirit and makes us all a little more cold and heartless, less human. It is things such as this that make people like Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin (regrettably) right about mankind. That the strong will always rise up to devour the weak and the defenseless - and spin propaganda to make themselves look like heroes for it and to justify the awful, terrible things they have done. That might makes right and dead men tell no tales. It also goes to prove that old saying about history being written by the winners.
The words written on the face of the Holocaust Monument read "Thou shalt not be a perpetrator, thou shalt not be a victim - but above all, thou shalt not be a bystander."
The world must not stand by and watch this awful tragedy from the sidelines and do nothing. The state and fate of the collective human soul and spirit is at stake. If we all make bystanders of ourselves, then we as a race have learned nothing from the 6 million murders of the last Holocaust. Then all the good intentions, monuments and plaques and beautiful poetry and memorials to the dead and the mournful have been in vain and hollow and without soul or meaning.