Don’t worry, Stephen, I’ve got this one.
While it’s interesting that you have no grasp of history, and apparently can’t read a complimentary close with any accuracy at all, it’s a pity that your tragic misinterpretations of current events, historical facts, and personal situations have co-mingled into this affected spout of a vitriol that simply outs you as a member of the whinging uneducated.
Let’s start with the title of your piece:
Just when you thought Stephen Fry couldn’t get any more pompous, he declares war on Russia on behalf of ‘the civilised world’
Your imagination is incredible. If you’d actually read the article, you note that Stephen uses the phrase “civilised world” twice, once in saying, “At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.” and another time “The Five Rings would finally be forever smeared, besmirched and ruined in the eyes of the civilised world.”
Even without reading the rest of the article, it’s patently obvious from just reading those two quotes that Stephen isn’t acting on behalf of the civilised world. In the first, he’s suggesting that a civilised world doesn’t attack a minority simply for being. Do you disagree?
The second quote is a bit murkier as it’s not fact, but it does follow from the whole “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” way of thinking. After all, the IOC was fooled once by a tyrant attacking and vilifying a minority and, in 1936, they thought it would be ok to ignore it. Repeating history is the hallmark of the foolish, and it seems that both the IOC and you, Brendan O’Neill, seem willing to repeat it.
But let’s cut to the heart of your issue:
First there’s the shrillness and infantile historical illiteracy. Throughout the letter Mr Fry compares Putin’s treatment of homosexuals to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews. He says Putin is “eerily repeating [Hitler’s] insane crimes”. This is deeply offensive – to Jews. And to historical memory. Putin is not rounding up gays, putting them in disgusting ghettos, and plotting to execute every last one of them, as Hitler did with the Jews. Mr Fry is exploiting the greatest crime in human history in order to give his campaign against Putin some extra clout. In the process he is denigrating the uniqueness of the Holocaust against the Jews by implying that similar things are happening now, in Russia, and presumably also in other places where certain minorities are oppressed.
Your willful ignorance of history is showing. You know the pink triangle that the gays use as a symbol for ourselves? That is a relic of Nazi Germany, it was the insignia required on all gays by Hitler’s decree, and yes, that was part of what he was doing, part of what was completely ignored and tacitly agreed to by the IOC of the time. And yes, concentration camps were part and parcel of what Hitler did, but they didn’t appear magically in an instant. Stephen is pointing out that a minority is being vilified, and then being attacked by thugs, with the state ignoring (at best) and supporting (at worst) the actions of these gangs. This is exactly what happened in Germany, at the beginning, and it leads to the ghettos and concentration camps as its next steps. Concentration camps and ghettos appeared after Hitler had divided the populace into “us” and “them” and the “us” had enough power and anger at the “them” that the “them” had to be shunted away from the rest of “us” to keep “us” pure. This is fact.
Stephen, whose mother is a jew, gets to speak about anti-semitism and the holocaust, as it’s part and parcel of his personal history. You, apparently not unlike me, are of Irish origins, and should perhaps not attempt to appropriate another’s history to attack them. In other words, shut it.
Furthermore, Brendan, your interpretation of Stephen’s missive is idiotic. That you can’t understand how history evolves shouldn’t surprise me, and yet, I do hope for more from those given pulpits with some power. Learned people are able to see the sequence of events that took a society from the Weimar Republic to the Nazi Empire at the center of World War II. It didn’t happen all at once, it’s a process with a very specific recipe.
A recipe that’s being followed by Putin.
I’m curious, if we printed your knowledge of history on cardstock in a 36pt font, could we fill a pill bottle? I’d guess not, but then you decide to double-down, Brendan, and become a shrew worthy of Shakespeare with the following:
But why should Russia’s mistreatment of homosexuals be a justification for banning it from holding Olympic events while Britain’s various massive political cock-ups of recent years – let’s take its disastrous and bloody invasion of Iraq as just one example – are not a block to its holding of Olympic events? Mr Fry says the Winter Olympics should be held anywhere but Russia. “Stage them in Utah”, he says. So it is okay for nations which invade and occupy other countries, which launch drone attacks on Pakistanis, to host Olympic events, but not countries which pass laws forbidding the mention of homosexuality in schools? On what basis are these judgments being made? Why is it worse to silence homosexuals than to kill Pakistanis? Who decides what is a respectable country and what isn’t?
To the first question, because it’s a vilification of a subset of their own people in a way that is reducing the freedoms in the world. It’s a policy of hate, a tactic of the cynic, and the targets are not just the people in Russia, it’s the LGBT citizens of the world. Remember, the new law includes restrictions on adopting of Russian orphans by anyone who resides in a country that accepts marriage equality in any form. As I’ve said before, this policy isn’t just targeting the LGBT community and its allies, it’s targeting everyone who Putin disagrees with because, after all, everyone looks a little bit gay. But I digress.
As for your ear-splitting tirade about what countries are good versus which are bad, let’s have a chat about that. In the world of the LGBT community, Pakistan, Iraq are certainly problems, but Egypt, Libya, Iran, and most of the middle east are shit holes that want me and my tribe dead. Russia used to not be on that list. It’s since reclaimed its place.
No, I’m not going to justify the actions of our governments. Both your United Kingdom and my United States are in the wrong when it comes to the invasion of Iraq and the current idiocy that’s continuing in the middle east, but you can’t say that what was there before was better.
In Russia, tho, it was better.
Russian is repealing its advances, becoming less free, less safe, and ultimately less stable. Let’s not forget, Russia, for all it’s foibles, is still a super-power, with nuclear capabilities, a vast population, and, should it fall far enough, will become a very real danger for the planet. Not ‘The West’ as many would like to believe, but the entire planet.
Brendan, your false equivalence belies the truth of what’s happening in Russia. No one is saying that destroying equality is worse than killing someone, and for you to try to compare the two is inane. They are both wrong and only related because they both involve humans. Given that Pakistan barely tolerates LGBT citizens, something that Russia has recently devolved to, they are on equal footing in this regard. We shan’t be holding the Olympics in Karachi either.
And don’t try to think I’m blind or ignorant, because yes, the UK and the US are responsible for several wrongs, throughout history.
One of which was not standing up in the 1930s to the regime that was projecting it’s hostilities towards others in a very aggressive and focused way. Imagine that.
Are we perfect now? No. Can we be better? Yes? Should we allow a country that is regressing into chaos and strife be seen on a world stage and held up as an ideal for the Olympics? Absolutely not. I’m sure you can name a few thousand other crimes that the US or UK or both have committed, as could I, but let’s be clear, we may not always get it right, but we’re at least trying.
We need to change Russia’s trajectory. There’s no doubt about it. We should also change the path that the US and UK and Uganda and all the rest are on, and I promise to do my part. But I refuse to let regressions occur without consequence, especially in dangerous ways that scapegoat a community that extends far beyond ethnicity, race, creed, color, language, or locale.
The whole debacle shows what a mess you get into when you, Brendan O’Neill, attack thinking with childish ranting. If we disallow countries that endanger olympians and fans based on intrinsic personal characteristics while visiting – whether it’s their own people or to guests – from hosting the Olympic Games the entire system would recognize that humanity is as important as athletic prowess. Or maybe they should take place in Switzerland every year. And who wouldn’t at least enjoy that? Politics and sport are two parts of the same whole; and talents like Mr Fry should keep speaking up, because otherwise we’ll end up with an imaginary defense made of the illusions of thoughtfulness and intelligence that reside in the expansive-yet-empty cavity behind Mr. O’Neill’s eyeballs.