Putin’s statement that gay Nazis are the cause of anti-Russian uprisings in Ukraine is part of a long game that he’s stolen directly from the Nazi book of propaganda, says Rob Buchanan.
Earth’s campest tyrant is once again stirring the propaganda plot. Vladimir Putin has said that “Gay Nazis” are the cause of anti-Russian uprisings in Ukraine. Not the illegal invasion and brutal annexation of part of a sovereign country. Not the occupation of public buildings by a foreign army. Not the shooting and looting by Russian soldiers and hired mercenaries all along the new borders. No, it’s the gay Nazis, who presumably are vampire child eaters, and, God forbid, possibly bearded drag queens too.
This is the exact type of bizarre homophobic accusation that should illicit nothing but giggles from the West, but will instead most likely have Russian grannies and thugs foaming at the mouth. It’s impossible to overstate how resonant the association between gays and the Nazis as agents of corruption and danger is for the Russian people.
There is an Internet phenomena called ‘Godwin’s Law’, where, due to the limited scope people have for the subtleties of argument, in online discussions on any topic someone will eventually compare someone else to the Nazis. They are the go-to panacea of insults. No one wants to be Nazi, people will do rhetorical back-flips to avoid appearing Nazi-like, and everyone feels their own ideological enemy is akin to a Nazi. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the world’s most slippery propagandist has slung Nazi mud at the rainbow flag.
The comparison between gays and Nazis that Putin is working off comes from deranged American evangelical hate monger, Scott Lively, who spreads outrageous lies about the Third Reich having being run by homosexuals, despite the overwhelming fact that gay people were horrifically tortured and persecuted during the holocaust. It is ironic that this latest piece of demonisation, peddled by an American, will hold total credibility with patriotic, Western-hating Russians. In a bizarre twist of ideology, Putin has successfully tied the patriotism of his people with homophobia.
It’s also ironic that Putin appears to be basing his propaganda strategies directly on those of the actual Nazis. That Nazi-supreme, Joseph Goebbels famously said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
It’s important to get a perspective on both Putin’s mechanisms of propaganda and why they are so effective in the current climate. Putin’s fantasy world pits a stoic traditional and united Russia against a decadent gay marriage toting, cartoon villain West. By creating false correlations in people’s minds between queers and those opposing the invasion and annexation of Ukraine, he creates a scenario where people who wouldn’t agree with his line in homophobia but are desperate not to appear anti-Russia must fall in line.
If you are not with Putin’s gay bashers you are most certainly against them, and hence against Mother Russia. And when a massive army and huge social pressures to conform in an increasingly ultra-conservative, violent war-engaged society, speaking your mind can be a life threatening.
In order to successfully defeat these lies and restore the sight of the Russian people we must challenge this demagogue at his own game. We must help Russian LGBT people in uncoupling the false associations between patriotism and homophobia.
Between the gay boogieman and the banal reality of gay life, Putin’s game is a long one, and it can only be maintained by distraction from the atrocities he is committing. The whitewash requires a silent blackout, but the truth is that Russia’s media is as porous as the old Berlin Wall once was. Russia’s LGBT people need those on this side of the new Berlin wall to keep fighting for them, and to keep reminding them they are not forgotten.
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