My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Meet the American Religious Right Figures Thrilled by Russia’s Brutal Anti-Gay Laws. In it, I report on Russia’s sharp turn towards authoritarianism, its government’s violent and repressive anti-LGBT laws, and the American religious right figures who couldn’t be happier about it all. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:
Russia has become a dangerous place for dissent. Its ex-KGB president, Vladimir Putin, has accomplished what Republicans in America only dream of: he’s built an electoral majority by appealing to the most religious and conservative elements of society, including by courting the alliance of the Russian Orthodox Church. With his victories, he’s becoming increasingly autocratic, dispensing with even the pretense of democracy.
Besides his notorious sidestepping of term-limit laws, he’s presided over show-trial prosecutions of political opponents and reformers on flimsy or trumped-up charges. He’s brought down the wrath of the state against artists who mock religion. He’s looked the other way as crusading journalists have been brutally beaten and murdered, and his government may have been directly involved in at least one such killing. In the classic tactic of dictators everywhere, he’s diverting attention from his own authoritarianism by painting a marginalized minority as a powerful and sinister enemy corrupting society from within. In this case, the invented enemy is Russia’s LGBT community.