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Conservatives For Putin?

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin’s Russia has come under near universal international condemnation of late related to the treatment of gays and lesbians in that country and specifically related to what has been described as a law banning so-called “homosexual propaganda.” While the details regarding the law remain vague, it would appear that it criminalizes nearly any form of speech on behalf of gay rights or advocating the equal treatment of gay and lesbian Russians. This law comes on top of other policies that have been implemented under the rule of Putin and his predecessor and close associate Dimitri Medvedev that made life difficult for gay people in Russia. For the most part, these developments have been met with universal condemnation in both Europe and the United States, and we are starting to see calls from some quarters for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in protest of both these anti-gay laws and Putin’s actions with regard to Edward Snowden.

Not everyone is so critical of Putin’s anti-gay policies, though. Consider this from Pat Buchanan:

Our moral and cultural elites have put Putin on notice: Get in step with us on homosexual rights — or we may just boycott your Sochi games.

What this reveals is the distance America has traveled, morally and culturally, in a few short years, and our amnesia about who we Americans once were, and what it is we once believed.

Only yesterday, homosexual sodomy, which Thomas Jefferson said should be treated like rape, was outlawed in many states and same-sex marriage was regarded as an absurdity.

Was that America we grew up in really like Nazi Germany?

In the Catholic schools this writer attended, pornography — let alone homs taosexual propaganda — would get one expelled.

Was this really just like Kristallnacht?

As Father Regis Scanlon writes in Crisis Magazine, in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated Catholic doctrine that homosexuality is a “strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” an “objective disorder.” That homosexual acts are unnatural and immoral remains Catholic teaching.

Thus, if we seek to build a Good Society by traditional Catholic and Christian standards, why should not homosexual propaganda be treated the same as racist or anti-Semitic propaganda?

To be fair, this is fairly standard Pat Buchanan rhetoric. It’s not all that different from the fire and brimstone speech that he delivered at the 1992 Republican National Convention, a speech that many point to as one of the reasons that the GOP did so badly in that election. In more ways that one, though, Buchanan wasn’t really representative of the Republican Party or conservatism in general. Indeed, Buchanan has reached the point in his career where most mainstream conservatives seem to have dismissed him completely. He still publishes columns that get carried at The American Conservative and Town Hall, but he hasn’t been seen on television for more than a year now and, even then, the only network that was giving him time was MSNBC. So, it’s easy to dismiss Buchanan’s ranting, and endorsement of Putin’s tyranny as the rantings of an irrelevant Nixonian stooge.

Unfortunately, Buchanan isn’t the only one who seems to be cheering on Putin’s anti-gay policies. Consider this post today from the ordinarily level headed Rod Dreher:

The West is post-Christian. We know that, or we should know that. Buchanan’s column highlights this reality. What an embarrassment that post-Soviet Russia, for all its grievous flaws, is, in important ways more conscious of its Christian history and character than the United States, a nation that still likes to think of itself as culturally Christian, but which is becoming ever more anti-Christian. That’s why I give 1.5 cheers to Putin. He is anti-liberal in ways that are morally objectionable, but also in ways that are morally praiseworthy. The Christians of the Middle East have a greater friend in Vladimir Putin than they do in Barack Obama — or that they did in George W. Bush, for that matter

I’ve read and re-read Dreher’s post, and his updates to that post, several times trying to figure out what he’s trying to get at here, and I have to say I just can’t figure it out. First of all, it’s astonishing that anyone would not see through the absolute cynicism of Vladimir Putin’s supposed defense of “Christian values.” In the end, it’s no different from the manner in which the Czars, and even the Soviet Communists, turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a tool of the state. Vladimir Putin is no more a defender of Christianity than he is an advocate of open government. Secondly, as much as Dreher might like to think otherwise, it seems clear to me that it’s impossible to separate Putin’s “morally praiseworthy” ways from his repressive ones. The fact that American conservatives are defending his actions, even in part, is either a sign of willful blindness, or a sign that they are so desperate to find allies for the losing side of the culture war that they continue to fight that they are willing to overlook tyranny and repression.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Is this really surprising to ANYONE?

    Does anyone remember when the RWNJs attacked Romney for days for hiring Richard Grenell, referring to Grenell as a “homosexual activist”, because while at the United Nations he had tried to protect gays and lesbians from being tortured, imprisoned, and executed in other countries?

    These are the same people that supported Uganda for proposing executing gays and lesbians and used their lobbyists in Congress to try to stop a Congressional resolution condemning the proposal.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 0

  2. Hans Bader says:

    Doug is correctly interpreting the homophobic Buchanan, but perhaps not comprehending Rod Dreher, who does not fall remotely in the same category as Buchanan.

    I think what Dreher is alluding to is how the invasion of Iraq (opposed by Russia) led to the destruction of Iraq’s Christian community in the chaos that followed (many of the Iraqi Christians fled to Syria after waves of religious cleansing), and how Syrian Sunni fundamentalist rebels have occasionally attacked Christians (who, along with Syria’s minority Alawites — who run the government with Russian support — are not thrilled at the idea of Sunni fundamentalists running the country).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  3. MM2 says:

    @Hans Bader: Dreher is doing nothing more than the “why can’t you supposedly tolerant people tolerate my intolerance” bit. He’s just couching it in 800 words, using Putin as an example, and it still took him 3 updates and a translation from a commenter to get there. What makes no sense is why he expects to be praised for his opinion here. You shouldn’t expect to be patted on the back for saying things like “I don’t think gays ought to be put to death”. There’s nothing noble or heroic about taking a stand that people should be treated like people, nor is there anything brave about writing such things.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 1

  4. @Hans Bader:

    but perhaps not comprehending Rod Dreher, who does not fall remotely in the same category as Buchanan.

    From the Drehrer article:

    I agree with Pat Buchanan when he says that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is defending traditional Christian moral standards and actual Christians more than America is

    Gee, I have no idea why someone would draw the conclusion that there’s some relationship between Dreher’s views and Buchanan’s.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 1

  5. rudderpedals says:

    Dreher’s repulsive post isn’t helped by repeated equivocations masquerading as updates.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  6. David M says:

    I agree … that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is defending traditional Christian moral standards and actual Christians more than America is

    Was the First Amendment recently repealed?

    In our late Mideast wars, America has fought for secularist democracy. Yet Christians have suffered horribly..

    Is someone trying to say our Magical Iraq Adventure (TM) (GOP) didn’t turn out great for the Iraqis?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  7. PJ says:

    Conservatives don’t object because they like what he’s saying and Putin is a Christian (albeit a Russian Orthodox).

    Compare that to what happens when of a different faith wants to interject religion into government. A perfect example being Muslims and sharia law, then it’s really bad. Now, a lot of them are perfectly happy with interjecting the right kind of religion into government, that is Christianity. Which is why those don’t have an issue with a judge in Tennessee refusing to allow parents to name their son Messiah.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  8. Woody says:

    It seems that politics make strange bedfellows after all . . .

    To my mind, Mr Buchanan and Mr Dreher have always placed their interpretation of Christianity above all earthly matters. They attempt to incorporate various secular ideas like the US Constitution and some amendments into their worldview, but only as they support their particular stew of morality and faith. There is only one path that is righteous, and how a society stays on that path is secondary to ensuring strictly following that path.

    President Putin’s unapologetic authoritarianism is thus worthy of 1.5 claps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  9. Rick Almeida says:

    @PJ:

    Exactly. More than a few of my conservative friends have become Putin admirers, one explicitly asserting, “The enemy of my enemy [Obama, of course] is my friend.”

    Now that’s patriotism.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  10. wr says:

    Explain to me again how right wing Christians are different from right wing Muslims.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  11. An Interested Party says:

    How shocking this is…I’m sure Christian fundamentalists could agree on plenty of things with, say, Islamic fundamentalists…homophobia being at the top of the list of those agreements…yes, it’s such a shame that many in America want those homosexuals to have the same rights that heterosexuals enjoy, isn’t it…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  12. C. Clavin says:

    Pretty simple case of people claiming to be Christian while acting in the least Christian manner possible. Would be shocking if it didn’t happen so constantly.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  13. To start off paleoconservatives (what Pat Buchanan’s version of conservatism is) were never interested in liberty to begin with. They like many other conservatives just want the governement’s gun back in their control again.

    Yes one can cite Buchanan’s opposition to the Patriot Act and our foreign policy as a stark difference to neoconservatives like Bill Kristol and Pamela Geller however thats the only difference. Buchanan and others like him (such as Chuck Baldwin for example) are only against it because they and their supporters feel the jackboot heel of the government. For them, their opposition is a means to an end and have no problems directing rights violating programs at those that in their mind are “destroying America”.

    Like his liberal counterparts Sharpton and Jackson getting angry of what this relic of the Cold War says is a waste of emotion. The only thing that will be worth reading from any of these scumbags who call themselves men will be their obituaries. (Sharpton is 58, Jackson is 71 and Buchanan is 74)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  14. labman57 says:

    The curious mind of the right wing “patriot

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. michael reynolds says:

    Buchanan’s column was better in the original German.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  16. Wally Wilson says:

    “What this reveals is the distance America has traveled, morally and culturally, in a few short years, and our amnesia about who we Americans once were, and what it is we once believed.”

    What, like LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS?

    Or, maybe FREEDOM of SPEECH?

    Or, maybe Buchanan’s “religion” (and face it, he’s no Christian) has become the ultimate traitor to the US constitution and needs to be put down like the rabid, insane animal that it has become…

    I cannot believe that we are having this discussion in 2013…sure, let’s pass a law in the US that limits freedom of speech and freedom of association and freedom of expression, all in one, fell swoop…yeah, that’ll be AMURRRIKKKAN, FUCK YEAH!

    What an oily hypocrite…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  17. superdestroyer says:

    So much for all of the punidts who claims that once homosexual marriage became legal in the U.S., that the issue would be behind everyone and homosexuals would stop being 95% liberals. The organized homosexual community quickly found another issue to get excited about and will apparently hound anyone who does not agree with them 100%.

    This is just another example of what the future of politics will look like in the coming one party state where everyone must agree with the conventional wisdom of the ruling elite or will be hounded into submission.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 28

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer:

    This is just another example of what the future of politics will look like in the coming one party state where everyone must agree with the conventional wisdom of the ruling elite or will be hounded into submission.

    Wow. Just wow. So much dysfunction in one comment. In your attempt to support people who support a ruling elite who is ACTUALLY hounding people into submission because they don’t agree with his conventional wisdom, you actually believe they are the victims?????? Excuse me, my brain just got whiplash.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  19. C. Clavin says:

    “…This is just another example of what the future of politics will look like in the coming one party state where everyone must agree with the conventional wisdom of the ruling elite or will be hounded into submission…”

    This clearly comes from a mind that does not

    “…hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

    To Superdooper the rights of those not exactly like him are subject to discusion and negotiation…like tax rates or carbon emision limits.
    Luckily for our society these neanderthals are dying out…and with them the Republican party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  20. Mikey says:

    The fact that American conservatives are defending his actions, even in part, is either a sign of willful blindness, or a sign that they are so desperate to find allies for the losing side of the culture war that they continue to fight that they are willing to overlook tyranny and repression.

    It’s not either/or, it’s both.

    Conservatives used to hold people accountable for glossing over repressions by Russian leaders. There isn’t a conservative worth the term who won’t go on for an hour about how abominable it was that Walter Duranty got a Pulitzer for his whitewash of Stalin’s murderous regime.

    But that was before the Russians started stomping on gays. Now they’re all “morally praiseworthy” and stuff.

    Putin isn’t into this to protect Christianity, and any assertion he is, is simply ridiculous. Putin is into this to protect Putin. If he thought it more beneficial to oppress Christians and support gays, he’d be mandating same-sex marriages at St. Basil’s Cathedral.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  21. Modulo Myself says:

    Buchanan is and has always been a prejudiced goon, but he seems at least cognizant of what he’s about: racism, prejudice, and drunken dislike. He just wants to keep minorities and women and non-Christians down.

    But Dreher is just grotesque. He loves being cruel and judgmental and he also loves being victimized. His blog is basically a series of complaints about how bad Christians have it and how bad people who have been discriminated against act when they talk about discrimination. He likely to be posing in a homoerotic photo of a gay kid he just tortured and then complaining about how giving transgendered kids the right to be their gender is the beginning of an anti-Christian pogrom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  22. Rob in CT says:

    The Fremeny of the Kenyan Soshulist is my friend, I guess?

    Super’s comment is really, really revealing.

    A steaming pile of greivance is not a platform, son.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  23. fred says:

    Many GOP and TP supporters hate our POTUS so much they would sell out our country to our enemies. Hatred is a disease and now afflicts about 30 percent of Americans per Pres Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. Cal American says:

    The Founding Fathers understood a very important fact:

    There is no FREEDOM in a religious state. NONE.

    Adherence to dogma is what religion requires.

    Our Constitution was based on one of these founding principles. The 1st Amendment. The Government will have no bias towards any religion. The Constitution protects against any recognition of religion in the government.

    Why have most Americans forgotten this? or worse, ignore it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  25. C. Clavin says:

    @ Cal American…
    Silly rabbit…the 1st Amendment only applies to my freedom of religion…and certainly does not limit my ability to impose my superstitions on others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  26. Al says:

    Authoritarian, statist, social conservatives like an authoritarian, statist, social conservative. In retrospect, it probably shouldn’t have been so surprising.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  27. Mr. Replica says:

    Sociopath

    so·ci·o·path
    [soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-] Show IPA
    noun Psychiatry.
    a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

    Religion has and always will be used as a tool by sociopaths, to make their ignorance and shortcomings seem justified.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  28. george says:

    @PJ:

    Compare that to what happens when of a different faith wants to interject religion into government. A perfect example being Muslims and sharia law, then it’s really bad.

    That’s kind of the crux of it for much of the GOP. Its good when they do it, bad when someone else does it. The saddest element of it is that those elements are so far removed from reality that they don’t realize their own hypocracy.

    Holding to principle, even a disagreeable one, is one thing. Having as your principle the belief that when you do something its good, when someone else does the same thing its bad is pathetic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  29. legion says:

    @wr:

    Explain to me again how right wing Christians are different from right wing Muslims.

    Wardrobe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  30. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    It is hard to believe that progressives believe all men are created equal when they are consistently in front of the Supreme Court arguing for affirmative action and separate and unequal treatment of Americans based on race or ethnicity. When was the last time the Democrats were in front of the supreme court arguing that everyone should be treated the same?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  31. Rick Almeida says:

    @superdestroyer:

    This is one of your less thoughtful posts, and that is saying something. In order to redress maltreatment extending for hundreds of years, it is sometimes necessary to tip the scales back.

    Are you someone who believes, “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0