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Dan Savage Explains Why Stoli Is A Russian Vodka And Why The Russian Vodka Boycott Is Working

by David Badash on August 15, 2013

in 2014 Winter Olympics,Civil Rights,News,Politics

Post image for Dan Savage Explains Why Stoli Is A Russian Vodka And Why The Russian Vodka Boycott Is Working

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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Alex_Parrish August 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I had not heard the quote from Vanity Fair; this sheds a little different light on the subject. While I was previously opposed to the boycott of Stoli believing the claim that it was a Latvian product, I now feel I can support the boycott and I hope that it is effective. However, since I don't drink vodka or any other liquor, this is not a sacrifice for me. Any ideas on other non-alcoholic products we could add to the boycott so that non-drinkers could participate?

SterlingEricson August 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Dan Savage is wrong here. He's just being stubborn because he's been proven wrong and he doesn't want to admit it. However, whether Stoli uses Russian ingredients or not is totally irrelevant anyways. It doesn't change the fact that they've been a supporter of the LGBT community for decades and have done more for us than any other company. Heck, probably more than most organizations and non-profits.

Why isn't Dan Savage calling for a boycott of any other company that does business in Russia? Such as Coke with its 17 distilleries and more than 30,000 workers there? It's because he knows that asking his followers to actually give up something (aka soda) would be detrimental to a boycott, since most people aren't willing to actually give up something they like. Giving up a vodka that they don't even drink all that often, if they drink it at all, is a meaningless little gesture that they can pretend does something.

But scapegoating one of our allies just for political gain and "awareness" is wrong. As BrightestYoungThings put it, "Actually, that is called scapegoating, and it is one of the most evil things you can do as a human being."

Alex_Parrish August 15, 2013 at 4:30 pm

This is a tough subject, isn't it. I come-away still not sure how I feel about it. I will say this: I am not among those who are Dan Savage Haters — those who reject anything and everything just because it comes from Dan. He is human and makes mistakes, but he tries to be on the right side. Stop the hating and just state the facts so people can make-up their minds for themselves.

SterlingEricson August 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

In general, I support the stuff that Dan does. However, in this case, it appears that he didn't do any research at all and just went after Stoli because "hey, stereotypes", it's vodka! While that's insulting in itself, he then keeps doubling down even when it is pointed out to him exactly why he's wrong. He refuses to acknowledge that he may have picked the wrong target.

cheekylange August 16, 2013 at 9:55 am

Stolichnaya is the Main Sponsor For Latvia Pride 2014, this was agreed long before Putin's new law.
This action is directly harming the LGBT Community in Latvia, as jobs are at risk and people blame it on Gays!

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