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Lies and the Resistance to Change

19 March, 2010

One of the commenters who shows up, repeatedly, on any post involving extending human rights to all human beings — including gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals — is a rather frightening homophobe who goes by the name of Reginald Genovese.  He has a bug (of maybe something much, much larger) up his ass concerning the idea that allowing gay marriage is directly related to the downfall of civilizations, cultures, or economies.  In his latest bit of word salad, he wrote (I guess as a form of proof):

What European nation currently has the highest unemployement rate, the lowest standard of living and the shortest life expectancy is Holland the same nation whose embrace of the perversion of those who broke the social compact lead directly to the slaughter of 70,000 innocents in Srebrenicza, Yugoslavia accoriding to the testimony of one of America’s most decorated officers.

My first thought was to wonder just how good the shit that Reginald is smoking really is.  What the hell.  I googled it.  Much to my surprise, Reginald only has most of his head up his right-wing homophobic ass.  I found this at Yahoo News:

At a U.S. congressional hearing on Thursday on allowing gay soldiers to serve openly in the military, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander John Sheehan said there was a causal link between having homosexuals in the Dutch forces and the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian war.

“The remarks were outrageous, wrong and beneath contempt,” Balkenende told a news conference.

Bosnian Serb forces overran lightly-armed Dutch soldiers in the United Nations-designated enclave in July 1995 and subsequently massacred more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys, the worst mass killing in Europe since World War Two.

In his remarks which also provoked angry reactions from unions and gay military groups, Sheehan blamed a post-Cold War effort by European nations to “socialize” their armed forces by, among other things, allowing openly gay soldiers to serve.

DUTCH ILL-EQUIPPED FOR WAR

“That led to a force that was ill-equipped to go to war. The case in point that I’m referring to is when the Dutch were required to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs,” Sheehan said.

“The battalion was under-strength, poorly led, and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off, and executed them.”

Carl Levin, chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Armed Services Committee, asked: “Did the Dutch leaders tell you it was because there were gay soldiers there?”

“Yes, they did. They included that as part of the problem,” Sheehan said, according to a webcast on the website of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“That there were gay soldiers?” Levin then asked.

“That the combination was the liberalization of the military, a net effect was basically social engineering.”

So Reginald spelled the name of the city incorrectly and got the number of victims wrong by an order of magnitude, but otherwise he correctly parroted what another right wing homophobe said. 

On both the left and the right, there are many authoritarian personalities.  Since the collapse of communism as a valid economic system*, authoritarian personalities have been attracted more to the right of the political spectrum than the left, but they are on both extremes.  One of the quirks of an authoritarian personality is that, if an authority figure says ‘X’, then ‘X’ must be true if, and only if, the authoritarian underling agrees with the authority.  Thus Reginald, or any other extremist, will mindlessly parrot the rantings of anyone with whom they see commonality of purpose, be it a preacher or retired general. 

I am still surprised (though I shouldn’t be by now) at the lies which authoritarians will use to promote their agenda.  And these are stupid lies.  Lies which are easy to see through.  Lies which are created not to convince the unbeliever, but instead to reinforce and excite the base.

Here in the United States, this actually works quite well.  To paraphrase Mark Twain, a right-wing lie can go ’round the world three times before the truth gets it’s boots on.  With a tame media trying to out-Fox Fox news, newspapers owned by huge conglomerates with very few actual reporters, and editorials masquerading as actual news, the truth rarely gets out.  As liberals, progressives and moderates attempt to explain the actual facts, the conservative sound-byte machine is on to the next distortion — death panels, socialized medicine, gays will destroy the military.

Luckily, the Dutch actually have some balls.  They reacted quickly and strongly with both the truth and a vehement denunciation:

Bosnian Serb forces overran lightly-armed Dutch soldiers in the UN-designated enclave in July 1995 and subsequently massacred more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys, the worst mass killing in Europe since World War II.

<snip>

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen called the claim “the bizarre private opinion of someone without an official function”.

Military unions were equally angry. Dutch news agency ANP quoted the head of the military union AFMP as saying Sheehan’s comments were “out of the realm of fiction”, while the head of the gay soldiers’ group SHK called his comments “the ridiculous convulsion of a loner”.

Conservatives have always had a bug up their collective ass any time that civilizations have extended human rights to human beings who are viewed as ‘other’.  The granting of full civil rights to Jews, or to any other minority religion, was met with dismay by conservatives.  Democracy, abolition, suffrage, desegregation, voting rights and now gay marriage have all been opposed by conservatives.  This makes sense, since, historically, conservatism is all about resistance to change.

Change may be slow.  It usually is.  But, for the last 500 years, change has been positive.  Generally in the direction of expanded rights and freedoms for human beings.  Hopefully, human rights will continue to expand here and in the rest of the world.  Hopefully, right-wing assholes like Mr. Sheehan and homophobic Christianists like Reginald will not succeed. 

And yes, I still have hope.

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22 comments

  1. What European nation currently has the highest unemployement rate, the lowest standard of living and the shortest life expectancy is Holland

    Pretty sure none of this is true – as a matter of fact, there’s research indicating the Dutch are the happiest people in Europe, possibly the world (although, apparently, it’s related to their low expectations!):

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7582/1289

    http://www.denmark.dk/en/menu/Business-Lounge/Focus-Denmark/Articles/The-Happiest-People-In-The-World.htm

    60 Minutes actually did a story on it a couple of years ago:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/14/60minutes/main3833797.shtml


  2. Yeah, Jeff, I know. The Low Countries are, along with Scandinavia, among the happiest, healthiest and wealthiest in the world. Their level of income disparity in extremely low. Like I said, Reginald must be smoking some really strong shit.


  3. The Dutch forces were part of the U.N. peacekeeping forces and like the rest of the force were under orders not to engage unless they came under direct fire. So like the rest of the peacekeeping forces they were forced to watch the massacre.
    They are brave solders with stupid commanders.
    Sheehan knows this and is just trying to maintain his creds as a fundi bigot.


    • Exactly. UN Peacekeepers are almost always both under orders not to engage and too weak a force to do the job they have been ordered to do.


  4. That story’s been making the rounds of all the whacko RW sites. Of course it’s a big, fat lie.

    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2010/03/gen-john-sheehan-bosnian-genocide.html


  5. I guess the CIA is in the world wide conspiracy since according to the CIA factbook:

    Unemployement rate in 2009 for the Netherland was 5% which ranks it 49th lowest in the world where the US is 9.4% which puts it at place 108.

    Life expectancy for the Netherlands 79 years – US 78.11 years I guess that is because of the superior health care system in the US

    🙂


  6. Gays in the military…(sigh) when are they going to stop kicking that tired, bruised old football around?

    Lessee: Alexander the Great, a whole lot of other Greeks, Julius Ceasar (said to be the husband every woman and the wife of every man), nope these people would be totally unfit to soldier, gay, you know.
    (We CERTAINLY won’t mention Narses, who was, in fact, a eunich…everyone knows THEY can’t possibly fight…)

    My Viet Nam tour of 67-68 there were two ‘gays’ in my platoon. They’d been drafted. They both said that they had let it be known upon induction that they were ‘gay’, but it didn’t cut any ice, they had to prove it. No letters from doctors or clergy would do (no escape from being forced into becoming the chattel of the state THAT easily!), just the commission of a felony on federal property in front of witnesses.
    No takers? Then enjoy your next two years!

    They were no better or worse than anyone else, and the couple of people who felt paranoid about them, they just looked them up and down, said, “Oh, yeah…you’re the gay guys’ erotic dream come true”.
    and turned away. Yup, hollow eyed, dirty, tired, stinky, bad tempered…that’s what a ‘straight’ looks for in a GIRL. (Well, there was that camping trip with my wife nine months before our oldest was born…)

    I used to work with DA civilians as an instructor, all of them were veterans, most WWII or pre WWII and they told a different story.

    In most cases, gays in the military were a fact of life. It was certainly not official, but the navy retirees told about guys who went to the “Binny Bars” in the Phillipines and frequented other establishments like them in other ports, certain jobs were dominated by gays, and it wasn’t that far different in the army. One’s personal life was, well personal, as long as you did your job. It was no paradise for gays, but most people had other things to worry about.
    It is true that the military of that pre-draft day was a subculture set VERY far apart from the “mainstream”.
    Read James Jones’s books, he gives pretty much an accurate discription.

    The official “interst” seems to have arisen post WWII when the communist threat came up. My father was a counter intelligence officer, and I heard him mention that this mainly dealt with people who were fairly high ranking, had good family, and were married, and this created a vulnerability. The threats of their being “outed”. They could be blackmailed into treason, and from what he told me, some were.
    Plus, “mainstream” America, due to the draft, was a transient yet permanant presence in the military, and mama and daddy wrote letters to congressmen…who still actually took an interest.


  7. The internet gives me hope. Realizing that all these progressives actually exist somewhere just warms my cockles! I really enjoyed this post. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the swings of progressivism in our history, and its allowed me to maintain hope. Though, I am starting to lose my patience with these animals. I guess thats the point though, right? To not lose hope, and to stay angry, and keep fighting.


  8. Dax: Peacekeeping duty must be the most difficult of any military mission. It really is not what armies are designed to do.

    Buffy: Again, a right wing lie will travel around the world three times before the truth gets the shoes on.

    Rainer: Thanks for visiting. I spent three weeks at a terrorism watch office some years back — we prepared reports on developing or possible threats (oddly, I had the clearance to prepare the reports at the center, but, back at the park, didn’t have the security to read them) and I introduced the permanent staff there to the CIA nation listings — added some background to some of the information. I’m still amazed they didn’t know about it already.

    Sarge: During my (admittedly short) military career I knew a couple of soldiers whom I suspected were gay (I do not ‘believe’ in gaydar). They were like any other soldiers — good, bad and indifferent.

    Quixotic: Progress. Slow, steady progress. The internet giveth and taketh away — it provides the vehicle for progressives and liberals to keep in touch, but at the same time privides the vehicles for the most outlandish conspiracy theories, distortions and outright lies. Still may be a net positive, though. I think.


  9. Some crackpot delivering obviously insane testimony (no doubt dismissed with a hand gesture something like twirling the finger about the temple) is all the evidence the loons need.

    I actually had an out homosexual on my shift at my last duty station. He was a middling sailor (it was a joint service unit), but probably above average in competence. We even referred to him as “Gay Joe,” so as not to confuse him with the other Joe we hung out with (not at work, obviously).

    The same arguments against gays in the military were made decades ago against desegregation.


    • Yep, and look at what it did to the military. Provided educational and leadership opportunities to thousands, hell, millions, of minorities. Do you really think today’s GOP will stand for that?


  10. I am sorry I inserted an extra zero but it is not as likely that all of us make mistakes? My personal specialty is in the realm of differential economics focusing on the cultural and social aspects of human culture and their effect, very real and measureable effect upon the economic outlook of the coutnries affected by the social and culture changes. I have no experience with the military but I do know tht only the best and the brightest achieve the admirable rank of General and lead brave men into battle i n the social and cultural wars for the future of America. In my view and by my economic calculations we depended upon unstalb allies, allies who cannot afford the necessary training and equipment neede in order to adequately train soldiers due to the economic effects of experimentalist social engineering legislation and the men and boys of Srebrenicza paid the price for our poor choice of weak allies. I do not argue nor have I ever made the argumetn that gays serving the military, the army, navy, air force and marines, is wrong. I merely pointed out htat the results of such experimentalist soical engineering legislating was a gutting of the Dutch economiy to the point they could not longer support, train or equip troops to carry out a combat missoin necessary to save lives. Economy is based upon a social contract, a compact if you will that is tripartite in its estimation among God, the governmant and mankind. When the governmetn chooses thorugh social experimentalist legislations to break that contract the economy always suffers. Always.

    Keep in mind that the CIA, and who really trusts the CIA on anything? ONly idiots and morons. The CIA informatoin is generally 10 to 20 years out of date and the data is updated rarely. Before the social experimentalism of gay marriage in Holland the economy throve. After the legislation which forced a risky social experiemnt upon an unwilling population the capital fled to coutnries which uphold the social compact given to many by God and enforced by our chosen government.

    As one who claims to be an historian you are amazingly ignorant regarding any aspect of economic, social, labor, industrial and economic history.


  11. Well Reg, as an economist, you might have noticed that although the Dutch economy did slump in the period post-2001 (the year they legalised gay marriage), the global economic slowdown behind this slump was, in fact global, hence the name… Not only that, but since 2006 the Netherlands has rather bucked the general trend, showing growth and low interest rates in a period of worldwide recession – which hit the non-gay-marrying USA not least. They currently have lower levels of poverty, inflation and unemployment than the US, a trend which looks set to continue. If correlation and causation are the same thing, as you seem to assume, then it looks as though the liberal, spliff-puffing, gay-rights-upholding Dutch path is the economic route to take…


  12. Reginald: Please cite your sources, published or unpublished. Please cite author, title and page number.

    Yunshui: You really expect that he will accept facts? That’s as likely as self-changing diapers.


  13. Lol. If Reginald wants me to take anything he writes seriously he will need to start spell-checking his posts.


  14. Oh, come on. Let’s cut to the chase here.

    Reggie,

    You hate and/or fear The Gay and you grab hold of any bullshit that reinforces that. Why don’t you just be honest?
    “Thinking about two sweaty men rolling around on a bunk in the squad bay makes me sick/tingly/afraid for my anal virginity. I don’t like it/like it more than I think I should, so it must be destroyed.”

    (((Billy))), Sarge & desertscope,
    Funny… when I was in the Army I don’t recall ever noticing anyone who might have been gay, but I knew several people through church who were obviously deep in the closet.


  15. Reggie, you claim to have any economic understanding of Dutch military history and you fail to point out that that queer general Sheehan, put the unionization of the Dutch army and the end of the Cold War in the wrong order?
    Correct order is:
    1) Unionization (starting in 1883 with the navy officers)
    2) Open Homosexuality (1974)
    3) End of the Cold War and the Soviet Union.

    Just so you know, the current guy in charge of the Dutch contingent in Afghanistan is a navy officer and it was sugested in passing in a good christian conservative paper last weekend that he is gay, though that may have been a printing error.


  16. Is Theodore actually claiming that the legalizatoin of abomination, the legalisation of behavior which breaks the social compact, brought down the evil empire? So Ronald Reagan who brought America closer to our roots than any President of the century, who forced congress and the house off representatives to actually pay more than just passing attention to the Constitution of United States of America had nothing to do with the downfall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Reagan years? You really need to pay attention to history and economics. Remember that Gorbacheve was an avowed and dedicated homosexual and he destroyed Russia after Ronald Reagan had defeated the USSR. Yet another example of the undeniable relationship among economics and the enaction of experimentalist social engineering which gives human rights to those who choose to act as animals and disobey the social contract among God, humans and government.


  17. You really need to pay attention to history and economics.

    (Smirk) Irony meter busted!


  18. “Abomination”, “behavior which breaks the social compact”, Reggie boy, neither historian nor economist will be impressed with these descriptions of trade unions, my goodness, you have to learn to be a bit less clearly showing your opinion, unions have their place too in both economics and history.

    And no, I did not claim there was a causal relationship, but the chronological order is clearly and beyond doubt:

    1) Dutch military unions become established
    2) Dutch allow “open homosexuality” in the military
    3) Ronald Reagan runs for president for the first time.
    4) Cold war ends.

    Somebody who suggests, as Sheehan did, that 1) and 2) were both in reaction to 4) is fabricating an impossible relationship.


  19. Theodore: I’ve been studying history for 30 years with a concentration on military history. I cannot fathom that I missed a military union in Holland. Wow. Thanks.

    Reginald: No. He did not. Unlike you, Theodore does not assume that since something happened in a particular order (which you keep getting wrong, anyway) there is a cause and effect thing going.

    Please cite sources re: Gorbachev’s sexual preference. Also, please note that studies done by the Russian Army point to both the economic problems faced by the USSR as they attempted to keep up with Reagan while he spent borrowed money like a drunken sailor and the Carter-era civil rights push which severly embarrassed the USSR since they were putting anyone who disagreed into mental institutions. In short, you are an idiot and you keep proving it. Again and again and again.

    Jeff: I am not responsible for any costs incurred by damage to your irony meter.

    Theodore: Actually, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, here in the US, many churches did refer to labour unions as abominations as the unions disturbed the ‘god-given relationship between capital and labour.’ Of course, later on the churches realized that if workers are paid better they can give more to the church.


  20. No. But now i will. Thanks for that.



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