Tuesday, November 30, 2010

“The homosexuals are coming! The homosexuals are coming!”

Yesterday I received an incredibly long-winded and frantic response from Errol Naidoo - it seems the email campaign to demonstrate our objection to his attack on Cape Town Tourism for supporting the city as a gay and gay-friendly tourist destination must have struck a nerve somewhere. For one thing, in the space of just two A4 pages, he used the word "homosexual" no less than 22 times!

In the same note, he used the word “family” a whole 6 times, most often with the word "anti-" preceding it, or "friendly" following. A pattern emerges, indicating that Mr. Naidoo seems to be obsessed with gay people and "families" – and for some unfathomable reason, views them as opponents on a chess board. Which piece he plays, is anybody’s guess - but since he seems to be such an adept drama queen, your guess is as good as mine.

He might as well have called his letter “The homosexuals are coming! The homosexuals are coming!” Perhaps he imagines he is the Paul Revere of his right wing religious extremist tribe of Leviticans? Perhaps, like Paul Revere, someone will name a brand of drugs after him? Who knows? But, speaking of advertising, the advertising slant calling Cape Town the gay capital of South Africa, or even of Africa - which he is waxing hysterical about, is by far nothing new. In fact, it has been called such for the better part of the last decade. It is quite strange that our friend Naidoo has suddenly got his knickers in a knot over old news – but that is hardly out of character I think.

Not once in his lengthy diatribe did he use the word "gay" – which is because he hates gay people and would sooner bend over to pick up soap in a prison shower before he would use an inoffensive term like "gay" - and because we chose it for ourselves. I'm not saying that he hates gay people just because I don't like him, I'm saying that because he was quoted as saying such in a newspaper article last year. Such hateful people prefer to use the "H" word because it is precisely what riles us, and it probably rolls so nicely off the tongue when you’re foaming at the mouth in a pulpit and working up to the bit where you pass the collection plate.

As a community, we Pink folks are quite used to the slurs, insults and name-calling directed at us by arrogant, cocky people who seem to have their underpants on too tight and a few screws loose or missing. Very often there are attempts to strip us of our human rights and dignity, and certain legal provisions which grant us equality and freedom regularly come under attack from such shallow and narrow-minded individuals who demonstrate a penchant for hate-mongering, arm-chair criticism and abusing human rights. Unsurprisingly, it is Mr Naidoo who is most often standing out front, cheering them on, directing their otherwise futile rage at anything which they belligerently squint at through a very narrow and puritanical worldview, and pointing out “enemies” for them to vent their generally pointless hatred and frustration at. As a part-time pastor, it is his self-appointed job to give his flock of sheeple a wolf to unite against, and where one does not exist, to invent one.

But who is Errol Naidoo, and why all the fuss?

He started out as a pastor for the "His People" church in Greenpoint, Cape Town - a notoriously homophobic community. He has also been closely associated with people like Peter Hammond and the "Christian Action Network" - whose group in 2000 published the insidious piece of propaganda and blatant fantasy called "The Pink Agenda". This book, written by Hammond and the then Press Officer for the ACDP, Christine McCafferty - in which gay people were made out to be a vile enemy of democracy, Christianity and "the family", with an 'agenda' likened by Paul Cameron, (one of the sources the book drew on) to the Nazis. Cameron meanwhile, who once was a psychologist and keen student of Nazi eugenics, was banned from practicing in the USA in 1983 for manufacturing fraudulent “studies” designed to indicate that gay people spread disease, are more prone to suicide, more likely to die before the age of 40, molest children – and who also advised President Reagan to exterminate all gay people in the USA to prevent the spread of AIDS in 1985. I kid you not. Many right wing groups who hate and target the Pink Community refer to Cameron’s work, even today – including the US based “Family Research Council”, whom friend Naidoo visits every six months for inspiration. The actual scientific community refers to his "studies" as "essentially a waste of paper".

Naidoo brags of his visits in his Family Policy Institute newsletters (and in "Joy!" magazine) to spend time with his mentors, the Colorado Springs based "Family Research Council", to draw inspiration from them for his "Family Policy Institute" in Parliament St, Cape Town. I wonder if he even cares that the FRC was recently declared a hate-group in the USA, after decades of vilifying and intimidating the Pink Community? The FRC regularly bullies companies who dare to treat their GLBTI employees with some respect or humanity, with boycotts, and calls for gay people to be imprisoned. Sound familiar?

Our Mr Naidoo spent a great deal of time in the 90's speaking for the "CAN" and its subsidiaries, against gay people, presenting homophobic talks at universities, "pro-life" events and such, vilifying our community and using nothing - nothing - but the fake “studies” of discredited charlatans like Cameron, and his own twisted personal interpretation of his religion to do so. It seems he isn't called the "High priest of hysteria" for nothing.

Naidoo’s friends at CAN still spend a great deal of time and effort campaigning against gay rights, picketing abortion clinics Westboro Baptist-style, and writing nasty letters to editors and strident articles on a variety of topics including the evils of secularism, gay rights, communism and Islam. They are famed for coining the terms "homofascism" and "Christophobia" despite not being able to point out a single case of persecution of Christianity in post-Apartheid South African history. On its website, CAN advocates home-schooling as a safe and convenient method for people to indoctrinate their children and to keep them free of unhealthy influences such as free thought and the liberal cancer. Another affiliate of the CAN, Doctors For Life, proliferates Paul Cameron’s garbage as “medical advice” on homosexuality and plays the role of “amicus curiae” whenever it gets the chance to stab gay rights or abortion in the neck.

Hammond, a missionary "reverend" and former special ops Rambo-type for the Apartheid government, heads up the western traveling circus that is the CAN – and has been very quiet since he faced charges in 2005 over an incident in Cape Town, where a trick-or-treating child was shot in the face at point blank range with a paint-ball gun to "teach them a lesson" about the evils of Halloween. (This earned him the nick-name of "the Paintball Pastor".) He was reportedly arrested for gun-smuggling in Sudan in the early 2000's, and his organization is involved with the far-right pro-gun movements in the USA – you know, the folks who hoard tinned food, gasoline and candles in their homestead basements and have para-military training on weekends with the uncle-cousins because Armageddon is coming.

In 2005-6 Naidoo appeared in the papers on several occasions while crusading against marriage equality, and whipping up the crazies into a frenzy. At this time he represented the "Marriage Alliance of South Africa", and was best known for claiming that “gay marriage is a new thing” and "never existed in the past" – flying in the face of historical evidence which shows that same sex marriage occurred as far back as 6000 years ago in Egypt, in the East, through the Greek and Roman periods, right until some bigot in a dress in the RCC in medieval Europe, made it illegal. Whoops.

Naidoo’s pet project, the "Family Policy Institute", presumably named so that it can sound really impressive when you say the acronym really fast, isn’t based so close to Parliament simply for the good view of Table Mountain, or so he can wave at the MP's as they drive past. No, the FPI is intended to watch Parliament, like Trevor Noah watches Cell C – like a hawk, cac-aa. This is of course, just in case Parliament dares to sneak any crafty liberal “anti-Christian” pro-gay bills across their table without checking with him first.

Last year before the elections, Naidoo and Hammond tried unsuccessfully to broker a merger between all the Christian fundamentalist political parties in South Africa, in order to create a "Republican Party for South Africa" – and to institute a theocracy. Virtually every single one of these parties includes homophobic policies in its charters or manifesto's and makes it a point to discriminate against our community - should they ever make any gains in some future election, of course. I suppose the supreme irony that these religious political parties advertise their hate as a way to win votes, completely eludes them.

Why am I focusing so much on Mr Naidoo’s associates? Well, because it goes to show where he’s coming from. These people are the kind of right wing fundamentalist who views human rights as being "anti-God" – especially where they believe God commands death in the old testament for various silly little things like tattoos and eating shellfish - and loving someone of the same gender. This of course defines people like him not as Christians, but as Leviticans. Leviticans reject the forgiving, tolerant and loving Christ in favor of the Old testament laws in the book of Leviticus. They despise secularism, calling the absence of religion a religion (what?) and see secular government as an affront to their faith.

Leviticans view gay people as a perversion and as a "lifestyle choice", not a natural occurrence - and therefore, through the lens of religious fundamentalism - an abomination. Many of them want gay and transgender people killed, and unsurprisingly, want the death penalty returned in order to do it. They would be very popular in places like Uganda, which views gay-bashing and genocide as a national sport. Like all Leviticans, Naidoo and Hammond reject all medical and scientific evidence that people are born gay or transgender and that such inborn traits cannot be changed - despite the fact that such evidence is no longer generally disputed by anyone other than religious fundamentalists who don't like gay people and believe the Earth is flat and was created in six days.

Naidoo describes every expression of our civil and human rights and equality as an affront to his puritanical view that South Africa, being made up of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, pagans, atheists and agnostics - is somehow a "Christian nation" under siege. He has spent a great deal of time trying to dress his own hate and extremist views up with the respectability and "morality" of Christian tradition, but clearly the opposite is true. By claiming South Africa is a "Christian nation" all that such people are doing, is copying the Roman emperor Constantine (founder of the RCC) who sprinkled a little water over a few thousand battle-hardened pagan Roman soldiers and told them "Okay, you're all Christians now - so follow me and kill those people!" It is surprising indeed that the hordes of people out there who are Christian but do not agree with his hatefulness do not tell this upstart embarrassment to their faith to STFU and sit down.

He has campaigned vociferously against pink pride events around the country - chiefly in Knysna, trying to get them banned. He has used all kinds of insulting, offensive and false claims about public sexual acts, full nudity, child abuse and public indecency at pride events to try and smear the constitutional, fully legal and free expression of our existence into oblivion. For ten long years he has campaigned against the Pink Loerie - and for ten long years, to his chagrin, he has failed.

Over the past year he has been extending his influence over government, schmoozing Ministers and MP's of various parties in trying to get controversial, anti-gay and anti-democratic bills passed - one of which is the so-called "porn" bill, which he hopes will allow people who share his fundamentalist views to censor what people use their mobile phones for, and what goes on TV, radio and into the media. He regularly criticizes TV stations for what he calls their "attack" on Christianity, and what he expressively calls "blasphemy". Just recently he threatened to launch a boycott against Woolworths and several other privately owned chain stores if they dared to stop selling "Christian" fundamentalist material - such as "JOY!" magazine - a right wing publication of which he is one of the editors. Poor Woolworths it seems will have to continue stocking reams of wastepaper that don't move much, sooner than risk the ire of so many conservative South Africans who can't see past their own eyelids.
Mr Naidoo clearly does not like living in a democracy, because he doesn’t like people being able to express themselves, to watch or listen to whatever entertainment suits them, or to exercise their right to love, life and the pursuit of happiness. He seems far too interested in the events which unfold behind the closed doors of private homes, or what adults occupy their minds with or spend their money or free time on, even with other consenting adults. He obviously doesn’t care a toss for the dignity of the Pink Community either because he has spent his entire career claiming that we don’t have any, and is obviously taking great pains to make sure that becomes true.

What stands out to me in Mr Naidoos rantings in response to the consequences of his bullying tactics, is the overwhelmingly obvious fact that while the Pink Community is fighting for equality, he is crying wolf about our "onslaught" on his "Christian civil rights" - to live without having to share the world with us. I guess it is really typical of the aggressor to cry foul and to blame everything on their victims, when an actual persecuted minority stands up to those who vilify and conspire against them. But that, like their hate, is not a new thing.

With all the real problems facing us in South Africa (some of which are of Mr Naidoo’s own making I might add), I find it surprising to see that he can make a song-and-dance about an advertising campaign designed to bring more income to Cape Town businesses – and to South Africa, and expect rational South Africans with more important things to occupy their time, to take his ludicrous yarn seriously.

Naidoo is of the persuasion that denies the estimate that ten percent of the human population identifies as GLBTI, but on the same note uses numbers to define the worth of our human rights and equality. In his mind, there are fewer of us, so our needs for equalities and human rights are not as relevant as his. As someone recently pointed out, equality does not exist on a sliding scale. Either all people have equality, or there is no equality.

He calls the advertising campaign naming Cape Town “the gay capital of SA” - “divisive, anti-family and pandering to the homosexual lobby” – and yet he would have the City pander to his own divisive, anti-human rights, anti-family (we’re part of every family too) agenda. He calls the “concerns” of the homophobes “valid” – thereby asserting that our concerns are invalid. And yet he is the only fanatic sweeping the mob into an anti-gay frenzy, screaming “the homosexuals are coming! The homosexuals are coming!” Divisive? Hmm.

His hysterical arm-waving about gay people and gay rights being “anti-family” – and a “threat” to morality – and now the economy as well - has been, time and again proven nothing more than a manufactured and infantile fantasy by decades of research conducted in countries in Europe as well as in the USA. This research shows that children are in no way negatively affected by gay parents, a gay presence or by the color pink, nor are pedophiles any more likely to be gay than straight. Funny how these countries have experienced none of the ill effects over the past thirty years which Naidoo and his friends have been "warning" about. And no, Spongebob isn’t gay, Erroll – it’s a cartoon character. Get over it.

Despite his posturing and roaring like a lion, Mr Naidoo - like all homophobes, is afraid of us. He fears our similarities rather than our differences, which is why he chooses to focus on how unlike him we are. They fear us because they don’t understand us, and this fear is exacerbated by their steadfast almost maniacal refusal to try – because it may tempt them into the unthinkable – realizing how wrong they are, and actually not hating us anymore.

"Ironically, those who attack and demonise anybody with a different viewpoint to their own are the very people who bleat incessantly about tolerance and constitutional rights." Says Naidoo, completely missing the irony in his own statement. It is our friend who has spent the past 16-plus years attacking and "demonizing" our entire community - and "bleating incessantly" about the so-called "homosexual agenda" - an effort by an oppressed minority group to attain equal civil rights - with him and his "family" - and to end the persecution directed against us by people just like him.

We didn't start this "culture-war" of yours, Mr Naidoo - you did. Why? Because we exist and because you hate us for that. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but we're not going anywhere - so you may as well just suck it up, or just hold your breath till you explode - whatever floats your boat.


If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

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