In December, the Obama administration announced a global gay-rights push. Officials declared gay rights to be human rights and issued a memo saying the treatment of gays abroad would be considered when assessing U.S. foreign aid. Gay-rights activists (and progressives, generally) swooned. I didn’t.
In a Contentions post, I noted that the initiative allowed Obama to shirk America’s unique role in actually securing human rights around the world, while earning praise from identity-politics activists. The administration’s failure (and disinclination) to maintain an American presence in Iraq after 2012 meant that anti-gay barbarians such as al-Qaeda and Iranian proxies would stay behind and prey upon Iraq’s homosexuals without fear of American influence. If Obama really wanted to protect gay rights from history’s most vicious anti-gay forces, I wrote, he’d keep America in Iraq (and Afghanistan) instead of issuing memos and giving speeches. And if the progressives singing his praises really felt that gay rights were human rights they’d have been more inclined to support George W. Bush’s freedom agenda and less eager to cut and run in our wars abroad. How tragic to have been proven so right so soon.
Here’s the lede from a story in Sunday’s New York Times: “A recent spate of killings and intimidation aimed at gay Iraqis and teenagers who dress in brash Western fashions is sending waves of fear through Iraq’s secular circles while casting doubt on the government’s will to protect some of its most vulnerable citizens.” I share that doubt. Without the U.S. there to keep the eroding Iraq democracy on course, we’re likely to see a lot more such attacks. The following paragraph should inspire acute shame in those who praised our leaving Iraq at the end of last year:
Human rights advocates say the threats and violence are aimed at gay men and at teenagers who style themselves in a uniquely Iraqi collage of hipster, punk, emo and goth fashions. The look, shorthanded here as “emo,” has flourished on Baghdad’s streets as an emblem of greater social freedom as society has begun to bloom after years of warfare. But it has drawn scorn and outrage from some religious conservatives, and is often conflated with being gay.
Imagine. Americans fought and died in a hellish Iraq just long enough to inspire a hopeful flirtation with freedom. Then we left a nearly quelled Iraq in time to ensure such freedom couldn’t be realized. What self-respecting person of conscience dare call this an Obama success?
As the Times notes, “Advocates have blamed Shiite militias such as the Mahdi Army of the radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr for past anti-gay killings and assaults.” That would be one of the Iranian proxies I warned about in my other blog post.
The Times reports that “young men in tight T-shirts and skinny jeans are being beaten to death with cement blocks and dumped in the streets.” Pity. But we’ve got some lovely memos and fine speeches on hand should anyone need to feel better about it all.