Dan Savage last night appeared on Chris Hayes’ “All In” to rebut Hayes’ previous coverage of the Russian vodka boycott and to shed more light on what’s happening in Russia from historical terms. Vladimir Putin‘s war on gays has created a firestorm in the U.S. and other LGBT-friendly countries around the world, and is making the lead up to the 2014 Winter Olympics challenging for Russian leaders. But as Harvey Fierstein, Savage, and many others are trying to stress, the issue isn’t the Olympics, it’s the LGBT community in Russia that will be there whether or not, and before and after, the Olympics begin and end.
But Savage made clear — right from the words of the makers of Stolichnaya — why Stoli is a Russian vodka. And he also made clear, quoting Alexander Abad-Santos’s piece in The Atlantic, that “The Russian Vodka Boycott Is Working, Whether You Like It or Not.”
First, to all who claim Stoli is not a Russian vodka — and why it’s an appropriate target:
“The goal of the boycott is to target an iconic product and vodka is Russia’s most iconic product, to raise awareness around the world, which is what this vodka boycott called by activists in San Francisco and New York and Seattle has done,” Savage told Hayes.
Hayes also spoke last night with Harvey Fierstein: Harvey Fierstein On Russia: Gays ‘Will Not Be The Scapegoat Of The World Any Longer’ (Video)
“And what I really objected to in your coverage on Monday night is you said I called for a boycott of ‘Stoli, which is actually a Latvian vodka.’ Which is Stoli’s argument right now. They’re out there pushing that lie, and if I could read you something really briefly which is, Stolichnaya’s distributor in 2008 to Vanity Fair [said], ‘Stolichnaya as it is sold outside Russia is distilled in Russia and moved from Russia to Latvia where it’s put in bottles. There is nothing added, nothing taken away, no additions, no subtractions from the product that leaves Russia. Stolichnaya is the original authentic genuine Russian vodka brand made with genuine authentic Russia vodka from Russia.’ Period. That’s Stoli talking about Stoli, so it’s a legitimate target of a boycott.”
Savage also compared what’s happening in Russia now to pre-World War II Germany.
“We’re not comparing the situation right now in Russia to what went on — what happened to the Jews. What’s happening in Russia to LGBT people isn’t what happened to Jews in 1943, it’s what happened to them in 1933. People didn’t speak up at the volume they should have, and we’re speaking up now to try to prevent that catastrophe from unfolding.”
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