I’ve heard pundits talk about it happening. I’ve seen it happen to groups of people, like Tea Partiers or the Republican National Convention. But until this morning, it never happened to me personally.
Yesterday a gay Facebook friend linked to this NY Times piece:
January 4, 2010
Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
KAMPALA, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.
The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.
One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations. …
The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.
“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.
“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”
Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.
Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape. …
Anyway, you get the point. It’s a terrible story, and the possibility of Americans having a hand in the violent anti-gay actions taking place in Uganda makes it even worse.
To clarify, the Times doesn’t itself tie these Americans to the Republican Party. It was my FB friend who claimed they are supported by “The Family,” a group of evangelical Washington politicians who live on C Street and gather for prayer study. I first heard of “The Family” on Rachel Maddow (from when I forced myself to watch her show last summer while a liberal friend promised to listen to El Rushbo). While this religious inner circle is comprised mostly of Republicans—including affair-tainted John Ensign and Mark Sanford—there are some Democrats, including Congressmen Mike Doyle (D-PA), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Bart Stupak (D-MI), and Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).
My FB friend didn’t mention that last part; the goal of the post, after promoting awareness of the travesty, was pinning the blame on religious Republicans for fomenting the intolerance and hate in Uganda. This is where I stepped in:
I’ve heard about this. Let’s see if next week, Gettleman has an article exposing Mahmoud Ahmedinejad publicly hanging of homosexuals in Iran, while gallivanting around the globe to places like Columbia Univ. and Copenhagen with impunity.
Not that I endorse what Evangelicals are doing in Uganda. Just looking for some fair and balanced reporting from the NY Times. (Oh, I forgot. They don’t do that anymore.)
The response was shocking: My FB friend accused me of dismissing and diminishing the value of the article and then hoped that my lambasting of the Times wasn’t “homophobia talking.”
I had to read that several times before taking it in. Did I say anything about not believing the article or the value of its reporting? No, all I did was note the Times’ interest in reporting Christian violence against homosexuals, while conveniently ignoring Muslim instances. Did I once even hint not caring or even endorsing what is happening to gays in Uganda? Of course not. But there it was: I was supposedly dismissing the article, therefore I could perhaps be homophobic.
(At the risk of being castigated for using the ol’ “Some of my best friends are …” line, one of my best friends actually is gay. I attended his wedding and, being a clergyperson, he even co-officiated at my wedding and officiated at the baby-naming of one of my children. I’m just sayin’.)
My response to my FB friend:
[Fair and balanced] does mean covering both sides and the NYT is infamous for not doing that. Here’s the leader of a country—with whom Obama wants to negotiate with without preconditions, who is actively developing nuclear weaponry and making threats to Israel, who was allowed to speak at Columbia Univ. in the name of “tolerance of opposing views,” who spoke alongside other world leaders (including Obama) at Copenhagen—and who publicly hangs homosexuals. If the NYT does not report on it but they cover this evangelical-Uganda story, to me is more than an accidental omission.
I was neither dismissing nor diminishing the article, as I clarified in my second paragraph, so if you got that impression, I apologize.With regard to your last sentence, I won’t even dignify that with an answer. We’re not the closest of friends but I’m appalled you would even suspect that of me. Not all (in fact not even most) conservative Republicans fit the liberal stereotype of [fill-in-the-blank]phobic. There’s plenty of left-wing hate, intolerance, and ignorance but—going back to the original topic at hand—you won’t read about it in the NYT.
What else is there to say? Is this really the way liberals/Democrats debate issues?