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The West Coast connection/U.S.-Latvia Axis of Hate
October 9, 2007 9:59 PM   Subscribe

On July 1st, 26 year old Fiji-native Satender Singh was gay-bashed to death by several Slavic immigrants in Sacramento.
Vlad Kusakin, the host of a Russian-language anti-gay radio show in Sacramento and the publisher of a Russian-language newspaper in Seattle, told The Seattle Times in January that God has "made an injection" of high numbers of anti-gay Slavic evangelicals into traditionally liberal West Coast cities. "In those places where the disease is progressing, God made a divine penicillin," Kusakin said.
While in 2002, TIME Magazine deemed the capital city the most diverse and least racially problematic in the states, the city proper is home to at least 80,000 Slavic immigrants and 80 Slavic churches, many who bring the Soviet-era ideas about homosexuality with them as they cross the Pacific. Even though the Soviet Union has dissolved, the ideas about the immorality of homosexuals have not; seen previously when proud Russians have tried to march.
posted by daninnj (46 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Surely you mean "bashed to death," because you're not trying to set up a loaded agenda-laden post with your neologism, right?
posted by klangklangston at 10:06 PM on October 9, 2007


Surely you mean "bashed to death," because you're not trying to set up a loaded agenda-laden post with your neologism, right?

No, it is in the first sentence of the article. Lets here one for organized religion. Yeah!
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:16 PM on October 9, 2007


klangklangston: I understand that your primary objective is to be a shrill and divisive jerk, but give me a break. "gay bash", "gay bashing" and "gay bashed" are in common use, and they accurately describe the situation. If you're going to complain that somebody is mentioning gay rights, please post to stormfront instead of mefi. They're more of your mind.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:16 PM on October 9, 2007 [9 favorites]


klangston, 'gay-bashing' is not a neolgism... sadly.
posted by pompomtom at 10:17 PM on October 9, 2007


klangklangston, I think it's perfectly fair to say "gay bashed" when the reason the victim was murdered was for their sexuality. There's setting an agenda and then there's just plain morality.
posted by jonson at 10:18 PM on October 9, 2007


D'oh. Sorry for the pile-on. I shoulda used preview.
posted by jonson at 10:19 PM on October 9, 2007


I want to label this kind of behavior un-American, but in our country it seems that we have yet to reach a clear consensus on gay rights for ourselves. If only our own religious extremists were more reflective, maybe this kind of behavior would throw their own beliefs into sharp relief and force them to consider who their bedfellows are. But I'm not counting on it.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:20 PM on October 9, 2007


Page two really starts to pick up:

But he's most famous as the co-author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party.

Scott Lively published in 1995, the book is a breathtaking work of Holocaust revisionism. It asserts that Hitler was gay — a claim no serious historian supports —

posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:21 PM on October 9, 2007


I always thought gay bashing was verbally attacking someone gay, or speaking ill of them. I never actually connected it with violence. I'm not a native English speaker, although I consider my proficiency rather high, but I might just have lost a nuance here. But does anyone know if the meaning of actually using physical violence is a newer one?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:24 PM on October 9, 2007


I always thought gay bashing was verbally attacking someone gay, or speaking ill of them. I never actually connected it with violence.

Same here.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:26 PM on October 9, 2007


Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center will use every penny in donations to fund more mass mailings to bring in more donations. Morris Dees is the worst of all possible scammers, because he actually does some good.

I dunno. I guess I mean I'm glad the SPLC is there to do what they do, but they're far from the most pure-hearted of organizations.

It's too bad this died off. It was fun as hell in 1988, and most of the time the cops would thank you. Seems like queercore would've spawned a similar movement.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:27 PM on October 9, 2007


I always thought gay bashing was verbally attacking someone gay, or speaking ill of them. I never actually connected it with violence.

Sadly, it's in common use for both definitions.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:28 PM on October 9, 2007


Can we just get rid of superstition? We would all be living forever and teleporting around if we would have eliminated it 100 years ago.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:29 PM on October 9, 2007


As a gay man, I say that gay bashing is both verbal and physical. When I came out in high school, me getting threatened with AIDS over the phone was gay bashing as was the physical teasing by several of the straight teenagers.

Wikipedia (yeah I know) says it is both verbal and physical.
posted by daninnj at 10:29 PM on October 9, 2007


Sounds like Sacramento needs its own Pim Fortuyn. It's ironic that the Latvians have argued for some bizarre homosexual/Islamist conspiracy, since they are pursuing pretty much the same agenda as homophobic muslims in the Netherlands. And it's interesting to see the Sacramento gay and lesbian community coming to view immigration in precisely Fortuynist terms.

Seriously, I'm all in favor of immigration and diversity. But if you're unwilling to assimilate at least as far as respecting the general mores and codes of your new community, then maybe you should have moved somewhere else.

Allow me to recommend Saudi Arabia.
posted by felix betachat at 10:39 PM on October 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've thought gay bashing was a physical thing since about the time the Tom Robinson Band was big back in 1978-79.
posted by arse_hat at 10:45 PM on October 9, 2007


I find it kinda curious that the anti-gay activists belong to an international movement of "Watchmen on the Walls" headed by Pat Robertson's good friend Ledyaev. This bigot extraordinaire operates a megachurch in Latvia that hosts conferences for skinheads and has even enjoyed the support of one of the city's mayors. Worst of all, Slavic baptists in Sacramento have joined in on the "fun."

So this church that enjoys the support of Latvia's ethnic Russians and Latvian Christian conservatives is smack dab in the European Union! (Quite a sight, ain't it: The European Union expanded into the East enough to swallow up a load of bigoted Ethnic Russians and Christian fundamentalists)

Now, since this church is in the EU, can't the European Union go after it ? The church's members intimidate and physically harass "sodomites" by (throwing feces, according to the article.) Doesn't the EU have the power to close this hatred-spewing institution or at least monitor it closely to make sure that its members don't get out of hand?

I think someone should crack down on these bigots pretty fast. The article makes it pretty clear that the delegation of Latvian bigots has come over to the US to hold meetings and grow their US membership that aims to influence politics. Scary enough, the Watchmen's international envoy Scott Lively has lobbied Microsoft against discrimination based on sexual orientation. But heck, the death of Satender Singh is probably worse than all of that political meddling.
posted by gregb1007 at 10:45 PM on October 9, 2007


The whole slavic angle is weird since there is a huge Eastern European gay-for-pay crowd/angle in the porn industry.
posted by humannaire at 10:45 PM on October 9, 2007


These people make Fred Phelps look like Mr. Rogers.
posted by stavrogin at 10:49 PM on October 9, 2007


Oh, fuck you. What I was doing was objecting to a thin post composed for button-pushing over any reasonable quality.

If only there was some way to alert an administrator to your objections. Sigh. Sadly, without such a mechanism, we are left with no choice but to behave like raging assholes in the threads themselves.

*
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:56 PM on October 9, 2007


So this church that enjoys the support of Latvia's ethnic Russians and Latvian Christian conservatives is smack dab in the European Union! (Quite a sight, ain't it: The European Union expanded into the East enough to swallow up a load of bigoted Ethnic Russians and Christian fundamentalists)

I would like to point out that Latvians are Balts, not Slavs, and that this rubbish has little to do with us, but with slavic ethnic Russians, who, if nominally Latvian, are so only by bullshit citizenship that came about through Soviet occupation post-WW2. Their fundy preacher leader Alexey Ledyaev is also not an ethnic Latvian: "Born in Kazakhstan, Ledyaev doesn't even speak fluent Latvian."

So, well, leave us out of it, please. If the EU expanded east enough to swallow up these morons, it's only because they expanded westwards enough to settle in Latvia.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:01 PM on October 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


UbuRoiva's, you misread me.. I never said Latvians had anything to do with it. My exact phrase was "Latvia's ethnic Russians." Though Slavs and not Balts, these people are nevertheless under the legal jurisdiction of Latvia not Russia or Kazakhstan. So that's why it's the EU and Latvia that have to confront them.

(P.S: The article also mentioned that a (probably small) number of Latvian Christian Conservatives were supporters of the anti-gay movement, but that's beside the point.)
posted by gregb1007 at 11:09 PM on October 9, 2007


I want to label this kind of behavior un-American, but in our country it seems that we have yet to reach a clear consensus on gay rights for ourselves.
Seriously? I would've thought all murder could be categorized as "un-American."

Just because a country lacks same-sex marriage laws doesn't mean they tacitly endorse hate crimes like this.
posted by hjo3 at 11:20 PM on October 9, 2007


I always thought gay bashing was verbally attacking someone gay, or speaking ill of them. I never actually connected it with violence.

For what little it's worth, my understanding was always the opposite, despite my understanding of, say, 'Bush-bashing' to be only verbal. Strange how words mean different things to different people. [/tangent]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:34 PM on October 9, 2007


In the interest of accuracy:

1) Actual Latvians are a Baltic, not Slavic people.

2) These attackers would generally identify themselves as "Russian" or "Ukrainian," because they aren't ethnic Latvians. They know it and would never mix it up in their minds.

3) The attackers are a rather disenfranchised group, as they (or their relatives) were often forcibly settled in Latvia to "dilute" the national Latvian identity and thus dampen calls for Latvian independence. As a result, they were largely despised by the ethnic Latvian majority. Also, they're Baptists, which disenfranchised them further.

4) Their continuing disenfranchisement and other factors helped create a culture which is overly patriarchal and viciously anti-homosexual. This mentality makes them ripe for the tentacles of nationalist/psychoreligious nutballs. Sadly. I should probably expand on one point . . . ever since the Russians lost much of their male population in WWII, men have been "privileged" in a disproportionate way in Russian (and by extension, Ukrainian) society. Also, the (general) Russian admiration for the "strong man" stereotype as leader, and other factors, have made homosexuality something very easy to demonize. It goes against the tough guy mentality.

5) Stereotyping them as "Slavs" is a gross overstatement, considering the fact that there are about half a billion people of Slavic origin, with a wide diversity of languages and cultures, and this group is but one small (but reasonably distinct) part of that. It's like a friend I have from Kenya, who is always being asked about Nigerian internet scams because he's "African." Call 'em what they are - ethnic Russians or Ukrainians. Or East Slavs. But "Slavic" is so general as to be offensive to many of us. The article speaks as if this group is endemic to all Slavs in the area. The truth is that is has no foothold amongst West Slavs (Czechs, Poles, etc) or South Slavs (Croatians, Bulgarians, Bosnians, Serbs) and even amongst many people who are East Slavs.

6) Latvia is in the EU. Russia and Ukraine aren't. Latvia, from what I am told, is washing their hands of this church as best they can - but they do have (mostly) free speech, and well, that's what you get.

7) The whole slavic angle is weird since there is a huge Eastern European gay-for-pay crowd/angle in the porn industry.

Well, sort of. The "Slavic" angle is wrong. And there is a lot of all kinds of porn coming from Eastern Europe. But much of this actually comes from non-Slavic countries, and to typify Eastern Europeans as anti-gay is misleading. Certainly, there is less progress for gay rights in most of Eastern Europe than in America, and the average citizen might likely say things about homosexuals far beyond what would be acceptable to most Americans. But many cities in Eastern Europe have gay scenes of a sort, and attitudes are becoming enlightened at a brisk pace. But in reality, even though there may be a big gay-for-pay crowd/angle in the porn industry, it doesn't sit to well with most people.

I like to think that after much of the 20th century under the hideous hindrance of communism, idiots like these just represent the last dying gasp of a soon-to-be extinct mentality. Then I look at the US Republican Party, Fred Phelps and all those fuckers, and I wonder which way things really are going.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:47 PM on October 9, 2007 [9 favorites]


A translated Watchmen on the Walls and their views on the story.
posted by tellurian at 12:05 AM on October 10, 2007


as a former sacramentan, now living in thailand, i am ashamed that my former hometown has come to this. hopefully this death will be a(nother) wake-up call, but i doubt it. the christians just have too strong a message of peace and love to be challenged.

see thai ladyboys
posted by altman at 12:10 AM on October 10, 2007


Re: "Latvia, from what I am told, is washing their hands of this church as best they can - but they do have (mostly) free speech, and well, that's what you get."

It's a paradox that bigots that promote hatred are left alone by the state because, as members of a free society, they have the liberty to promote hate....
posted by gregb1007 at 12:21 AM on October 10, 2007


UbuRoiva's, you misread me.. I never said Latvians had anything to do with it.

Oh, I only lifted a quote from you as a springboard to be defensive about Latvia's name being splattered all over this, when it seems to have little or nothing to do with ethnic Latvians.

In a way, it might sound a a bit silly of me to take that kind of line if you see it from a western multicultural context - ie the idea of clinging on to ethnolinguistic identity as the thing that defines whether somebody is a 'real' person of country X or an interloper. It also probably comes across similar to hearing endless Balkan disputes about Croats in Serbia or Montenegro or whatnot & thinking "Who cares, other than them, and why don't they just get along like me & my Lankan-Chinese-Portuguese neighbours?"

However, when you have a tiny country of only a couple of million people, with its own language & culture under near-constant threat of dilution from outside, I guess that kind of rigid definition comes into play. Dee Xtrovert seems to have a similar framework, from a different cultural background:

1) Actual Latvians are a Baltic, not Slavic people.

2) These attackers would generally identify themselves as "Russian" or "Ukrainian," because they aren't ethnic Latvians. They know it and would never mix it up in their minds.


Anyway, enough of a derail.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:46 AM on October 10, 2007


These people make Fred Phelps look like Mr. Rogers.

I wouldn't disconnect the two. People like Fred Phelps are enablers of (and cheerleaders for) this kind of outrageous bullshit.

This is part of what pissed me off about the anti-gay marriage initiatives in 2004. Once you start codifying bigotry in the law, you've started down a very slippery slope. Not to go all Godwin on you motherfuckers, but there were a number of years between Hitler's election and the construction of Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz. /OT
posted by psmealey at 4:29 AM on October 10, 2007


It's not really russian.. I mean, it seems they have found some sort of subculture to make up for their disrupted psyche.
posted by nicolin at 5:01 AM on October 10, 2007


yeh, that sort of thing would never find a place in dostoyevski's work, would it?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:19 AM on October 10, 2007


How truly MetaFilterian that practically the entire thread resulting from a post like this would immediately devoted to a poor word-choice in the first sentence. Sometimes I worry about you folks...
posted by hermitosis at 5:50 AM on October 10, 2007


This doesn't help the discussion, but:

I hate fundies. I really, really, really hate fundies.
posted by saysthis at 5:58 AM on October 10, 2007


Well at least all the right-wingers who are all up in arms about immigration will deal with these types, right? right?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:10 AM on October 10, 2007


Why don't people ever channel this much rage and activism into, say, protecting their land and people from the runaway devastation of the environment and economy by industrial interests instead? Why avoid an epic battle with a legitimate, quantifiable abomination instead of singling out one of the more peaceful, insignificant groups of people out there for extermination?

Oh yeah, because you're all a bunch of ignorant alcoholics who were abused as children by ignorant alcoholics. Well, carry on, then...
posted by hermitosis at 6:13 AM on October 10, 2007


.
posted by kittyprecious at 6:16 AM on October 10, 2007


Now, since this church is in the EU, can't the European Union go after it ? The church's members intimidate and physically harass "sodomites" by (throwing feces, according to the article.) Doesn't the EU have the power to close this hatred-spewing institution or at least monitor it closely to make sure that its members don't get out of hand?

Er, my understanding is that the E.U. isn't like the U.S, where the central government can control everything, controls the military, and can enforce it's own laws. It's up to the member nations to implement E.U. (what? Directives?) Plus, they have a precarious hold on power as it is, and mucking around in religious matters would add huge fuel to the anti-EU feeling in a lot of member nations. Imagine how the U.S. government would behave if it didn't have an army, and 20% of the U.S. population favored dissolving the union entirely.

That's my impression anyway, I don't know like the exact figures or specifics of E.U. law.
posted by delmoi at 6:18 AM on October 10, 2007


Well Ubu, what I meant was that you can't blame everything on some sort of culture pattern [The russians are like this, russians are like that / or substiture russians by anything other naion or group] that is ever changing and which calls for detailed research to be accurately and momentarily described. I meant that what individuals look for in their culture (and in the culture of the country they're living in) is something echoing their inner feelings, whatever their source is. To sum up my feelings, I think they are in need of a good psychoanalysis rather than just de-russianalization (!?). There is an identity problem here, and obviously the poor boy has been a scapegoat. I gather there are many russian immigrants who never had a problem with the same sex.
posted by nicolin at 6:24 AM on October 10, 2007


substitute russians by any other nation or group
posted by nicolin at 6:26 AM on October 10, 2007


From the story:

...the Slavic leader told him: "You have to understand, we equate homosexuals with thieves, adulterers and murderers. … You are an abomination."

And WE equate violent bigots with Nazis, rabid dogs, rats, and other dangerous vermin that must be confined, isolated, restrained, and put down for the protection and betterment of humanity.

Fiends who organize and encourage this kind of behavior have turned their backs on the Social Contract. They are the apostates of civilization and as such have no claim on the rest of us to treat them as human.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 6:37 AM on October 10, 2007


My religion's better than yours. My God is bigger than yours.
Blah...blah....let's have a war.
posted by doctorschlock at 8:01 AM on October 10, 2007


Y’know, it might be grammatically correct and proper to say “gay-bashed to death” but it really sounds silly.
It’s a horrible thing, I know. And seems a minor quibble over poor word choice, but it resonates like “break dance fighting.”
Can’t they say beaten to death because he was gay? Or gay-bashed and beaten to death? Something to break it up and make it a bit more clear?

As for the fact of the matter beyond the words, it seems such an elementary thing, an obvious egregious wrong, that discussion, beyond merely broadening the topic seems redundant. Not that it is, but there’s not much room beyond widening the topic (as has been done, and well). I mean, what’s someone going to say? (other than tarring the entire ethnic group with the same brush) It’s ok for Latvians to beat gay men to death? I’m not asserting the Monty Python argument sketch thing devolving discussion to merely being contrary. But nearly any discussion would be extrapolation or drawing from other sources and so forth.
Addressing the post directly, really, only thing you can reasonably say (apart from agreement in abhoring such act(s)) is “gay bashed to death” sounds a bit goofy.

That said, you want to beat on my faggot friend, you’re going to have to go through me.
And yeah, psmealey, legal action like that is a big red flag (or grey and black and red if you will). Yesterday it was blacks, today it’s gays, tomorrow it’s meat eating gun toting violence afficianados like myself.
Let’s have a war indeed.
(jack off the dow jones! Let’s have a war! We can start in New Jersey!)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:42 PM on October 10, 2007


It’s ok for non-Latvians (who somehow got Latvian citizenship or residency) to beat gay men to death?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:15 PM on October 10, 2007


(fixed that for you)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:16 PM on October 10, 2007


I agree "gay-bashed to death" sounds goofy. But it's emblematic of an article which was poorly-worded, not particularly well-written, and not researched very deeply . . . aside from its engagement in gross generalizations which serve only to cause confusion. (Witness Smedleyman's non-comprehension of the identity of the attackers, even after multiple previous corrections - not a rap on Smedleyman, but simply evidence of the damage done by a "bad" article to a people (the Latvians) who have been historically been sympathetically multiethnic, relatively speaking, for centuries.)
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:11 PM on October 10, 2007


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