The "culture war", now more than 30 years old - today is far from the obscure reference cloaked and made fun of by the little quotation marks which try to create the impression that the culture war is a euphemism and not really a war at all. The truth is very different, because when people's lives are destroyed through the actions of other people - even people on the other side of the planet, even without the use of conventional weapons - and when people die - it is a war in every real sense of the word.
Far from fading out over time, it is a war that has escalated if anything - and now employs advanced weapons such as the internet, science, medicine, psychology and multimedia - along with more traditional hardware like covert operations, surveillance, intelligence, counter-intelligence, propaganda, politics, dirty tricks, entrapment, investigative journalism, expose's, espionage, infiltration - and denial.
In the past, if you were Black, you faced serious levels of discrimination, intolerance and prejudice in many countries. That has changed a lot in the past century or two - to a point where the civil rights movement seems to have taken on a paradigm shift from focusing on race and eugenics to more subtle shades of sexual orientation and gender identity. These days, if you are gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex - it is certain that you will run the gauntlet with prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence on a regular basis.
There is the saying that goes "pink is the new black" - and nowhere is this more evident than on the continent of Africa. Those who are both Black and gay and living in Africa - well... to put it politely - you're between a rock and a hard place.
In the race game, it's not as if you could actually deny being Black or White and get away with it. It's not as if there are any "therapies" or "treatments" to "convert" a White man into a Black man for example - although, as many Ugandan racist homophobes have commented in the recent past - there was this one guy from America, called Michael Jackson - who they said, went from being "a Black man to a White woman" - and they weren't as polite about it either, believe you me. In terms of the battle for equality for the pink community, people all over the world are denying being who they are for a variety of different reasons, and some of them even valid ones.
With only one country on the entire continent protecting the equality and human rights of the pink community, Africa is a minefield when it comes to human rights - specifically when it comes to laws affecting the legality of who a person may or may not love, marry, live with, or touch. Two countries epitomize the stark difference between the highly charged opposite poles of this issue in Africa - Uganda and South Africa. South Africa, which recently celebrated its 15th year of democracy, is the only country in Africa which guarantees equality under the law for GLBTI people, including the right to marriage and to adopt children. Its polar opposite, Uganda, in 2008 passed a law to punish gay people with lifetime imprisonment - and as if that wasn't bad enough, just last year tabled a pending Bill which will mandate execution as "punishment" for being gay.
Consequently, many GLBTI African people live closeted frightened lives, too afraid to be open about who they are and who they love - and upon closer inspection, it is with very good reason.
The irony is, that in both countries there is a powerful homophobic sentiment at work, and in both cases, it is being fuelled by imported foreign propaganda and influence. Evangelical Christian groups and churches have for some considerable time been working in countries across Africa in order to "evangelize" and convert the world to embrace their own radical fundamentalist brand of Christianity. Prime targets of this radical ideology are people of other faiths, liberals and even less conservative adherents to their own faith, people whom they accuse of being "sinners" (often a the expense of their own credibility) - and last but definitely not least - the entire pink community. These groups spread under cover of "evangelism" and "good works" through a process called "church planting" and using "missionaries" and they support each other morally, strategically, logistically, and even financially. Oh, they're on a mission, all right.
Through a process of indoctrination and thought control, they spread propaganda, enforce their dogma and engage in anti-social and and anti human rights activities in the name of religion. They work to infiltrate social bodies, other churches and government and to influence them in their thinking. They suck influential leaders into their narrow thought process. They campaign and protest everything which they do not agree with in a strict, narrow conservative sense - specifically everything that safeguards all protections of freedom of choice and civil rights, or separates religion from state. They call this process "transformation" and "revival".
Think I'm exaggerating? Think I'm a conspiracy theorist? Look how deeply involved the Ugandan Parliament - indeed the Ugandan President is in the Kampala Pentecostal Church (now called Wototo), implicated by the secretive and clandestine US evangelical group "The Family" - and the religious nature of the argument within the now completely compromised Ugandan Parliament. Compare that with recent events in our own country, South Africa. Our President is closely involved with the Rhema cult and its leader Ray McCauley - in fact, McCauley's NILC now has access to government support and resources. He even has ANC MP's - and the Chief Whip of Parliament on his "God-Squad" staff to boot, sending his press releases via the ANC parliamentary email channels. And who can forget the pre-election offer by our beloved President - made in the halls of Rhema itself - to "talk" to faith groups about issues that bother them - such as gay marriage? Yes, perhaps our President will live up to his promise to uphold the Constitution - but does that mean he will oppose efforts to change that Constitution if he agrees with the changes?
I find it strange that the NILC can burst onto the stage and immediately usurp the SA Council of Churches, as an established and long-time representative faith body - which at least features some respectable religious and faith leaders - but the NILC and Ray McCauley? The NILC - along with other groups, such as the Family Policy Institute - whose leader Erroll Naidoo is also cozying up to the government lately - have of course laid out their intentions - to change the SA Constitution, to strip out gay rights and equalities and to completely "transform" the whole thing to reflect exactly what South Africa will become - Uganda v2.0.
Many of the US groups currently active in Uganda have branches, offices and affiliates in South Africa also. Prime examples are Exodus International, NARTH and Focus on the Family, to name but a few. Am I wrong to be concerned about this?
In an article from the Citizen on the 8th of January "Gay Africans face prison, death penalty and intolerance", it is made pretty clear that Africa as a whole is pretty hostile to diversity and still very homophobic. In fact, it seems that in many places they hate gay people so much they want them dead - and in others being dead simply isn't enough, because they even go so far as to dig up dead gay people to expel them from cemeteries. I think that is taking extremism to new lows, don't you? I mean, you have to really HATE somebody to do that, to desecrate a grave? What kind of people are they, these haters? Do they have any decency and feeling at all?
I don't know if anyone here has seen these videos on Youtube yet, but I thought I would post the link - these are video recordings of Scott lively giving his talks at the Kampala conference last year. Judging by the videos, it seems to me he went there just to indulge in some shameless self-promotion and to boost his sales of "the Pink Swastika".
This man advertises himself as THE most qualified "expert" in the world on the subject of homosexuality, he claims that he alone is able to read and understand documents, reports and studies on homosexuality better than other people claiming to be experts - notably his critics. He even claims he knows more about the topic than anyone else in the world! He stops short of claiming to be a "genius" - but not before making pointed reference to the word "genius" - and leaving his ignorant audience suitably awe-struck and impressed. Were the whole thing not so tragic and truly unsettling and even downright frightening in terms of the consequences, it would be downright boring.
He brags about his works in the "ministry" and the fact that he is a lawyer, has gay relatives whom he "loves" and "pities" dearly - and then proceeds to lay out all sorts of other deliberate distortions, lies and misrepresentations about them - which lesser educated people, and those keen to believe how "sick", "evil" and "dangerous" gay people are, will swallow - hook, line and sinker.
Scott Lively has tried to distance himself from the Bill and he has even condemned it in a radio interview - but simultaneously also called it "a step in the right direction”. I'm sorry - but how does that work?
Does Scott Lively ever not contradict himself on anything? He insinuates that he is a genius, and then slips in a modest denial. He objects to the Bill, but he praises it. He thinks gays should be treated like people who smoke marijuana (ie criminals), but shouldn't be imprisoned (or killed) for it. He was implicitly involved in generating support for the Bill (ie hatred, violence and homophobia), but now distances himself from it. Is that out of convenience?
This man has distorted history, he has raped medicine, he has misrepresented science, he has twisted fact, and deliberately imprinted in the minds of those who attended the Kampala conference that gay people are dangerous, that they pose a serious threat to children and Ugandan society, that they are aligned to communism and that they were responsible for the Holocaust and for the Rwandan 1994 genocide. Add to that his past work, including the host of propaganda which has been used by homophobic groups (including "Watchmen on the Walls" - founded by Lively) as "gospel truth" and "scientific fact" against the gay rights movement - and ordinary human beings for decades. Ironically "Watchmen on the Walls" advertises itself as a "Christian human rights group" and curiously, it is implicated in incitement to hate crimes against Jews and gay people around the world - and also listed by the SPLC as a hate group.
As can be seen in the last link of Lively's trip to Latvia in 2006, such extraordinary claims are just another day's work for this guy. Top of the list was this: "On that trip, Lively told a crowd of police officers that "the gay movement is the most dangerous political movement on earth" and repeated his claims that Riga is under siege by homosexuals, despite the fact that thousands of anti-gay demonstrators had countered the showing of just a few dozen gay rights marchers the summer before." Sound familiar?
Add to that the worrying tendency for these groups to speak in foreign Parliaments as if they are actually important enough to do so - like Lively's co-founder of Watchmen, Rev Ken Hutcherson, on the same trip, who claimed that the White House had appointed him a "special envoy" for "family values." "I came to you representing the White House. In my country, people will know how Latvia responded to anti-Christian statements," Hutcherson told the Latvian parliament. "We need to stand for righteousness not only morally, but also physically and financially. It's a great battle for righteousness and no one can stop it. I promise to stand with you."
To categorize the effects of Scott Lively's visits on homophobic communities and hate groups, I quote the following: "...the city [Riga] is a hotbed of violent homophobia. In 2005, for example, a group of 100 gay activists, most of them from Western Europe and Scandinavia, traveled to Riga to hold a gay rights march that was widely viewed as the first real test of Latvia's official commitment to freedom of assembly, a requirement for its tentative admission to the European Union in 2004. Under heavy police escort, the gay rights demonstrators walked a few blocks through a gauntlet of ultranationalists, neo-Nazi skinheads, elderly women and youths wearing "I Love New Generation" T-shirts. They were pelted with eggs, rotten tomatoes and plastic bags full of feces." "Soon after returning from the March trip, Lively visited a Russian-language evangelical church in Salem, Ore., where he screened a video documenting the Watchmen's activities in Latvia. The 45-minute tape repeatedly refers to gays as "terrorists" alongside footage of Ledyaev leading crowds in a chant: "In the name of Jesus Christ, we curse the name of homosexuality!" In a speech given after Riga's first gay pride parade in 2005, Ledyaev told his international congregation: "Homosexuality is a … dangerous and contagious disease. The contagious should be isolated and treated. Otherwise, an epidemic will sweep through the entire community.""
This man and the groups he associates with clearly care a toss about human lives, democracy, or human rights.
Scary. And the US State Department still allows this creep to cross their borders into dangerous and unstable countries, why?
He's done it before - he will do it again.
Having watched these videos of Lively giving his presentation in Kampala, I am left in no doubt that a large portion of the blame for the raging homophobia instilled in those who attended the conference - including the front runners who formulated the Ugandan Genocide Bill - rests squarely on his shoulders.
I cannot see how he thinks his denial of responsibility and other excuses in any way absolve him of his part in this crime against humanity. If ONE person dies as a result of this Bill in Uganda - or is imprisoned or tortured - he will be undeniably complicit. In fact, should this Bill pass as it is feared will be the case at the third reading in Uganda's Parliament in February, I believe that he - along with all the other known accomplices, including local leaders such as Martin Ssempe, James Buturo, Bahati and Yoweri Musseveni and foreign nationals like Alan Chambers, Don Schmierer, Gary Skinner and Rick Warren - should all face charges of crimes against humanity - specifically incitement to commit genocide.
If it were up to me, I would also push for change in individual countries - a tightening of control measures on church and/or faith groups (such as Saddleback and Exodus International) and to govern the extent to which they may involve themselves in the affairs of foreign states. In fact, I would suggest that certain groups shown to be directly complicit in this disgrace in Uganda, with their tendrils wrapped around churches and entwined in governments in other parts of Africa and with a record of pushing an anti-human rights agenda - should be closed down, disbanded and buried forever.
Sure, there has been talk by certain leaders in the "ex-gay" movement of a change of strategy, apologies by some for what happened in Uganda, but mainly just excuses for "not knowing" what the consequences of their actions would be - or mealy-mouthed excuses of being "duped" etc. Mostly it has been about "distancing" themselves from the responsibility for their actions. Despite all these accusations, blame-shifting, defensive arguments, excuses, buck-passing and finger pointing - the fact remains: they were there, they were involved, they incited hate against the pink community, they encouraged violence, they failed to speak out against violence, they even congratulated themselves on their involvement and in the prospect of making life impossible for the pink community in Uganda, despite the existing law which already provides for a life sentence for homosexuality.
Are we supposed to believe they didn't see with their own eyes the looming disaster they were creating? Are we supposed to believe that in all their sessions and consultations and socializing with the proponents of the Bill, that this eventuality was never discussed? Suddenly, now that there is a death penalty in the Bill are we supposed to believe they never knew? Or are we supposed to think they were willing chumps drawn into a dark whirlpool of subterfuge and intrigue by those cunning and devious Ugandans, who plotted the whole thing behind the backs of their generous sponsors? Or is it simply a case of them not wanting to take public credit for the blood which will stain both their hands as well as those of America?
Considering all the exposure US evangelical activities in Uganda and other parts of Africa, and the link between that and the looming genocide in that country I find myself faced with a question rather hard to ignore:
Can this be called terrorism?
I think it can. Terrorism - or at the very least, acts of terror. I'm not going to get too deep into that right now - but I have noticed a strange echo lately in complaints by conservative politicos in the US, that President Obama will supposedly not say the words "terrorism" or "terrorist" in speeches or public addresses.
Well, if Mr Obama were to say something to the American Right about terrorism, I think it would (or should) be something along these lines:
"You guys see what the press has exposed about your involvement in Uganda? Are you SURE you want me to use the word 'terrorism'?"
Add to that, I would like to see Mr Obama implement a little house-cleaning and a little tighter security on what gets OUT of the USA, instead of just what gets IN for a change.
Now wouldn't that be something?