Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
In the last couple of days, as the Taliban consolidated its position in the Afghan capital, I had to go all the way to New Zealand to find an English-language gay news website which acknowledged that this lightning reconquista wasn’t exactly a great development for gay Afghans.
Under the headline “Taliban Plan to Crush Gay Men to Death as they Close in on Capturing Afghanistan,” the Gay Express reminded readers that during the years of Taliban rule (1996-2001), adulterers were executed, thieves subjected to amputation, girls over 10 denied schooling, movie theaters closed, Western TV and music banned, women forced into burkas, and men ordered to wear beards.
In what seems a strict violation of the unwritten rule of Western gay media – i.e. never to say anything positive about the U.S., and especially about Republican governments in the U.S. – the Kiwi website noted that “[w]hile homosexuality has always remained illegal in Afghanistan, laws making it punishable by death were repealed when the United States invaded in 2001.”
But that, warned the website, will surely be reversed, given Taliban judge Gul Rahim’s recent assurance, in an interview with Bild (Germany), that gays, under a new Taliban regime, would be “crushed to death by toppling walls.”
But that story was, as noted, an outlier in the gay Anglosphere. When I turned from the Gay Express to other sites, I found nary a word about the Taliban’s grim plans.
At Pink News (UK), the highlighted stories concerned the firing of a gay teacher by a Christian school in Sydney, Australia; a ban on Pride flags at another school in Newburg, Oregon; and the loss of a lawsuit by Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts-and-crafts stores, which had refused to let M-to-F transsexuals use its ladies’ rooms.
At the Advocate, the picture was much the same, with scream headlines about some C-list television actress who supposedly challenges stereotypes by being a lesbian Asian-American; about the teenage child of Enimem, who has come out as “genderfluid and bisexual”; and about a ruling by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services that “gender affirmation surgery for legal minors” is “child abuse.” (Hurrah, by the way.)
Finally, at Gay Times (UK), the top news items were largely about celebrities you never heard of coming out as “queer” – which these days, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean gay. Or, for that matter, mean anything much at all. There was also a breaking story about allegations of lip-synching on a drag show on British TV.
Great journalism there, boys and girls.
Nor was there anything about gays in Afghanistan at the website of Human Rights Campaign, the nominal gay-rights organization – now basically a trans lobby – whose sleazy history of “whor[ing] itself out” to Clintons, Obamas, and other Democratic politicians was illuminatingly outlined by Daniel Greenfield in an article on August 12.
Of course all this silence on gays in Afghanistan is in perfect accord with the unwritten rules regarding crimethink in the year 2021. If somebody dares to suggest that, say, Rachel Levine, Biden’s transsexual assistant health secretary, isn’t the most womanly of women, it’s a story deserving of scare headlines about anti-queer bigotry in post-Trump America.
But if judges in Afghanistan are having walls constructed so that they can be dropped on gay men – well, that’s their culture.
These gay news websites are staffed by woke types who’ve taken courses in this or that kind of “studies.” They know what they’re supposed to think – and what they’re never, ever supposed to say. And they know the jargon.
So they know that it’s not “the job of the white man,” as the postmodern scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has instructed them all, apropos of Western efforts to alleviate gender oppression and sex slavery in the Third World, “to save the brown woman from the brown man” – or, by the same token, to save the terrified brown gay man from a whole bunch of violent brown straight men.
(Never mind that Spivak herself, who was born in Calcutta and has had high-profile professorships at Cornell, Cambridge, and Columbia, seems to have been saved by white university administrators from what would otherwise have been a very obscure academic career in India.)
Thanks to people like Spivak, properly educated gays in L.A. and New York and London know that to so much as voice concern about the impending massacre of gays in Afghanistan is racist, Islamophobic, and postcolonialist.
When Donald Trump was president, he put Ric Grenell, his acting director of intelligence, in charge of an exceedingly ambitious – and exceedingly estimable – effort to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. The queer media and queer activist establishment heaped scorn on the initiative.
How could they do otherwise? To support Grenell’s work would have been to support Trump, whom they’d worked so hard to depict as a gay-hater. (Or, rather, an LGBT-hater – the only real evidence for which was his unwillingness to cheer the idea of transsexuals in the military.)
Also, Grenell frankly admitted that the worst antigay laws are in Muslim countries – an inconvenient truth that belied the queer nomenklatura’s preposterous doctrine that gays and Muslims are allies in victimhood.
Raging about Trump’s border wall? Terrific. But criticizing Taliban judges who want to drop walls on gays? No way.
But most of all, the whole enterprise was, in their view, a vulgar, verboten exercise in cultural condescension. How dare Trump and Grenell, after centuries of Western imperialism, imply that they held any moral high ground in relation to the Muslim world! How dare Don and Ric, as male members of the white race – “the cancer of human society,” as Susan Sontag once called it – presume to issue behavioral diktats to people of color?
No, deep down these shallow, self-centered professional gays in the Western world don’t care a whit about what happens to their “brothers” in Afghanistan or anywhere else that they themselves aren’t likely to visit. And they’re not impressed by campaigns to help them. What impresses them are empty, patronizing pro-gay gestures of the kind that the Obama administration – and now the Biden people – have specialized in: flying Pride flags at embassies, lighting the White House up in rainbow colors.
It’s sad. These well-connected gays could’ve followed up the same-sex marriage victory by looking abroad – looking, in short, beyond their own self-interest – and using their influence to help the poor sons of bitches in places like Afghanistan to win at least a fraction of the right to pursue happiness that they themselves enjoy.
But unlike Trump and Grenell, who are profoundly serious men, these are very silly people. In place of a moral compass, they have rainbow-flag Speedos and t-shirts bearing the Human Rights Campaign logo. And this summer, chances are that while they’re partying it up in Provincetown, Fire Island, and Miami Beach, walls will be falling – far, far away – on gay men in cities from Kabul to Kandahar.
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