Russian gay activist Nikolai Alekseev, (photo, above,) touring the United States to discuss the state of LGBT equality in Russia, spoke Tuesday evening at Columbia University and was pointedly asked to respond to an allegation — based upon an entry he wrote on the blogging site Livejournal — that the thirty-three year-old celebrated activist, journalist, and lawyer was, indeed, anti-semitic.
The allegations were first made by Scott Long, formerly of Human Rights Watch, who, apparently, last summer was forced to apologize to U.K. gay rights activist Peter Tatchell for five years of personal attacks. Shortly thereafter, Long was “dismissed,” according to veteran journalist and gay activist Michael Petrelis, who added that Long’s, “official explanation for moving on would have delighted the editors of Pravda in Brezhnev’s day.”
Human Rights Watch also offered Tatchell an apology.
Calling their apology “unprecedented,” Doug Ireland of Gay City News detailed the story in July, 2010, writing, “Human Rights Watch (HRW), the worldâ€™s largest and most prestigious human rights organization, has made a stunning public apology to Britainâ€™s iconic gay and human rights activist, Peter Tatchell, for attacks heaped on him by HRWâ€™s Scott Long, who directs the organizationâ€™s LGBT program.
“Long made numerous public statements about Tatchell that were ‘inappropriate… disparaging… inaccurate… condemnatory… intemperate personal attacks,’ HRW acknowledged.
“In the June 30 apology to Tatchell, head of the militant British gay rights group OutRage!, HRWâ€™s executive director, Kenneth Roth, acknowledging the falsehoods circulated by Long, said, ‘We recognize that personal attacks have no place in the human rights movement.’â€
Ireland added that “The HRW statement included an admission from Long that heâ€™d made false statements about Tatchell.”
(That’s the background. Now, here’s how Long’s recent accusation of anti-semitism against Russian gay activist Nikolai Alekseev comes into play.)
Ireland continues, writing, “for some, HRWâ€™s apology to Tatchell raises more questions than it answers.”
“Nikolai Alexeyev (Alekseev,) the lead organizer of the Gay Pride events repeatedly banned in Moscow Gay Prides and founder of GayRussia.ru, is among those who have been objects of Longâ€™s attacks. An attorney, Alexeyev â€” who has brought 168 lawsuits against Russia for outlawing gay demonstrations and for officially encouraging homophobia â€” responded via email to a Gay City News request for comment, saying, â€œThe problem of HRWâ€™s LGBT programs is that it turns around the personality of Scott. Iâ€™d be happy to work with HRW on monitoring in Russia, especially because my group is the most experienced in Europe in dealing with LGBT cases at the European Court of Human Rights â€” but not as long as the leadership is what it is. I think Peter is very kind to forgive all this dirt that was put on him. This can only be to his credit.â€
Fast forward to now.
As reporter Karen Ocamb at LGBT POV wrote Tuesday, “[t]he specific offending quote, captured by Scott Long, formerly of Human Rights Watch and now a Visiting Fellow, Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School was:
â€œThe Israeli Prime Minister urged Western leaders to support Egyptian dictator Mubarak â€¦ And who after this are the Jews? In fact, I always knew who they were.â€
Note that the above quote was translated from the original Russian and provided by Long.
Last night, Adjunct Assistant Professor Tanya Domi, of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (and a frequent contributor to The New Civil Rights Movement,) pointedly posed the question to a subsequently surprised Alekseev.
“You’ve been accused of being anti-semitic, and I’d like you to respond to the charge,” Domi said, adding, “we’re in a university setting and so we want to have an open discussion.”
Alekseev, who throughout the evening’s ninety-minute presentation spoke excellent English, upon answering this question stammered, but said, “To call me an anti-semite is like to say I burned the Reichstag.”
“Burning the Reichstag,” is similar to the American saying, “the pot calling the kettle black” — but a lot worse. As the story goes, Hitler was responsible for burning the Reichstag — the German Parliament — then accusing the Communists of the evil deed as a pretext to gain power.
Essentially, Alekseev seems to be accusing Long, or those who responded negatively to his Livejournal post, of being the anti-semites, or, at least, evil-doers.
In his speech, Alekseev, “outlined the oppression and even violence he and other Moscow Pride organizers have faced since they first held the event in 2006,” as Michael Lavers wrote. He continued his defense for over three minutes, detailing that he has Jewish friends, and adding that his mother’s stepmother was Jewish, and people he works with are Jewish. This is an unfortunate line of defense as the irony is clear. Who hasn’t heard as a defense of bigotry, “Some of my best friends are (insert oppressed minority name here)”?
But Alekseev denies, emphatically, and for over three minutes, that he is anti-semitic. In the end, he feels it’s lost in translation — “probably there was a semantic in the translation,” Alekseev says, after having accused the Israeli government of saying “all the world should unite around Mubarak… I’m sorry but it pissed me off completely.”
Others have been pissed off completely too, namely Equality California and Robin Tyler, who say, “Our broad coalition of California organizations including Congregation Kol-Ami, Jewish Community Relations Council, Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles, Harvey Milk Foundation, SF LGBT Community Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Imperial Court of Canada, USA, and Mexico, Gays Without Borders, San Diego LGBT Center, Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, Jordan Rustin Coalition, Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, City of West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay Advisory Committee, Christopher Street West, WEHO, and Get Equal,” “have decided to cancel sponsorship of the California speaking tour of Russian LGBT Activist Nikolai Alekseev.”
“The California sponsors [of Alekseev’s west coast leg of the tour] were unaware of this when they agreed to sponsor Alekseev,” writes Ocamb. “In fact, EQCAâ€™s Andrea Shorter chided Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor for the Council for Global Equality, for not warning EQCA about possible problems with Alekseev when they were having email discussions about international issues.”
But Alekseev beat EQCA to the punch, and canceled the west coast portion of his tour first. And then changed his mind — going, but without the sponsorship — writing on Facebook, “IT IS TIME TO SHAKE CASTRO! AND I WILL DO IT! SO THAT THOSE WHO FORGOT WHAT IS GAY ACTIVISM SWITCH ON THEIR BRAIN AGAIN AND NOT CONCEAL BEHIND THE NAME OF HARVEY MILK!”
(Alekseev apparently uses Facebook a lot. I friended him and was friended me back almost immediately, just hours before his talk at Columbia. I checked his Facebook page and he had written he had just landed in New York only nineteen minutes earlier. When I introduced myself to him at the Columbia event, I referenced the Facebook friendship and he said, “Let’s keep in touch by Facebook.”)
In an earlier Facebook posting, Alekseev acknowledges the Scott Long accusation as the impetuous for his sponsors’ cancelation of his California trip. “Someone called Scott Long decided to run a campaign against me in the last 48h and harassed the sponsors of the events asking them to pull out and cancel,” he writes.
(The obvious question is, why did EQCA and Robin Tyler take Scott Long’s accusation over Alekseev’s reputation? Do we now live in a world where one accusation — albeit unresponded by Alekseev — is grounds for disassociation?)
Alekseev adds, “The bullying campaign by Scott Long made its effect and I got a large pressure which people where not even able to make directly. They understood they were behaving improperly and decided to pressure me indirectly. This is just amazing. This is too much. This campaign has absolutely no reasoning and there is no ground for it.Honnestly, I cannot say that I am disappointed in America. This would be totally untrue.”
It’s apparent that the “bullying campaign by Scott Long” indeed “made its effect” on Alekseev as well. Just two hours after he wrapped up his discussion at Columbia, Alekseev wrote in yet another Facebook message the following very, very long missive:
In the light of the controversy concerning the cancellation of my speaking engagements in California, sponsored by a group of local LGBT organizations, I would like to make the following statement, the essence of which was addressed tonight during my speech at Columbia University.
I would like to state that I am a strong believer in human rights and equality for everyone, irrespective of any personal characteristics, whether it is sexual orientation, race, gender, national or ethnic origin, religion or any other basis.
I did publish in my blogs the comments which were addressed against the Israel Government after Israeli Prime Minister called the world to support Egypt dictator Mubarak and to unite around him, disregarding popular public efforts to oust him. I was angry that anyone could support this dictator as he was killing his own people. My comments appeared to blame all Jews for the actions of the Israeli government and its supporters.
The accusations of me distributing anti-Semitic statements on blogs were initiated by notorious human rights campaigner Scott Long who had to quit his position at Human Rights Watch (HRW) due to his involvement into slandering British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell for which both Mr Long and HRW had to make a public apology.
(I’d like to draw your attention to this next paragraph, which, if true, says it all.)
Mr. Long was intentionally waiting for my trip to the US to start this campaign against me, which he started the day I arrived in Chicago, a month after this comment were made by me and already long ago after it was removed and address directly with the few who read them and contacted me to discuss it. If Scott Long was truly interested in stopping anti-semitism, why did he wait a month to raise an objection, but instead wait until I landed in the US to start this tour? One can doubt Mr Long would have ever distributed this information if I did not have any speaking engagement in the US. I regret this personal vendetta which goes on between the 2 of us for years might have hurt other people.
I would like to say that I have several Jewish friends who I treasure, including one Jewish American who played a significant role in Moscow Pride movement for years, helping to organize all our events in Russia. I adore her and I consider her as one of the most outstanding people I met in my life. Without her Moscow Pride campaign would not be as successful as it was.
My mumâ€™s stepfather was a Jew who immigrated to Israel from Soviet Union.
I am one of the only persons who always defended Jewish people against the hypocrisy of Switzerland during World War II. This is the topic which almost noone is courageous enough to raise neither in Switzerland itself, nor elsewhere. Just as noone was courageous enough to challenge Gaddafi regime from within Libya and I already did it in 2002 during my trip there risking problems to exit this country.
My grandfather died in World War II fighting the regime which is responsible for killing of millions of Jews. He was fighting for freedom and liberation aged younger than me now. I donâ€™t even know where he found his resting place.
Every time I am in Berlin, and a few weeks ago was not an exception, I visit a massive monument to millions of Jews who died under Nazi devastating rule.
I always dreamt to visit Jerusalem and I am sure I will do it very shortly.
I am a great believer in justice and a great opponent of all injustice. I am always very direct in what I say and sometimes people interpret it the way they want to use it against me.
It is true that I had to cancel my appearances in California due to enormous pressure from the organizers of the tour there. I always said in the last 48h that I would answer any question anyone might have about this issue after my speeches and make them public. And so, I did it tonight at Columbia University in New York., an institution which I admire for not surrendering to the harsh pressure Mr Long put on them in the last day to cancel my appearence. But I still plan to come to California as I know many people are waiting for me there and I have no right to punish them or disregard them.
Closing this statement I would like to stress that I was not personally contacted by any organizers of my tour in California with questions concerning my statements on policy of the Israeli Government. I was not invited in the several conference calls Californian organizers held in the last 48 hours on this issue.
So, is Russian gay activist Nikolai Alekseev anti-semitic? Only Alekseev can know for sure. Was the wording of his Livejournal statement unfortunate, assuming nothing was “semantic in the translation,” as Alekseev puts it? Definitely. Has he responded to the charges sufficiently to exonerate himself? Only you can decide.
But America should know that Alekseev, who is credited by The Advocate as being “the most visible crusader in his country,” patently denies that he is anti-Semitic. And America should also know that his accuser apparently “was intentionally waiting” to make his accusation, and has, as Alekseev said, been “burning the Reichstag.”
The Reichstag, it seems, has been burned a lot.
All photos Â© Caleb Eigsti, taken March 1, 2011 at Columbia University
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‘Scared to Death’: Trump’s Prison Panic Admission Means He Knows He’s Doomed Says Legal Expert
Reacting to a report that Donald Trump has been quizzing his attorneys about what type of prison he likely will be sent to, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner stated that is not only an indication that he knows he’s going to be convicted but also an admission of guilt.
Speaking with MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart, the attorney was asked about a recent Rolling Stone report about Trump’s prison panic.
As Rolling Stone reported, Trump asked if he’s “be sent to a ‘club fed’ style prison — a place that’s relatively comfortable, as far these things go — or a ‘bad’ prison? Would he serve out a sentence in a plush home confinement? Would government officials try to strip him of his lifetime Secret Service protections? What would they make him wear, if his enemies actually did ever get him in a cell — an unprecedented set of consequences for a former leader of the free world.”
According to the attorney, Trump is revealing himself by asking for so many details.
“What does this tell you about Trump’s mindset?” host Capehart asked.
“It tells me he is scared to death” Kirschner quickly answered. “It tells me he has overwhelming consciousness of guilt because he knows what he did wrong and he knows he is about to be held accountable for his crimes. So it is not surprising that he is obsessing.”
“If he was confident that he would be completely exonerated, would he have to obsess about what his future time in prison might look like?” he suggested. “I think the last refuge for Donald Trump can be seen in a recent post where he urged the Republicans to defund essentially the prosecutions against him. which, to this prosecutor, Jonathan, smells a lot like an attempt to obstruct justice.”
Watch below or at the link.
Image via Shutterstock
‘Vulgar and Lewd’: Trump Judge Cites Extremist Group to Allow Drag Show Ban
A federal judge in Texas known for a ruling that attempted to ban a widely-used abortion drug is citing an extremist anti-LGBTQ group in his ruling allowing a ban on drag shows to stay in place.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a former attorney for an anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian legal organization, and a member of the Federalist Society, in his 26-page ruling dated Thursday cited the “About” page of Gays Against Groomers to claim, “it’s unclear how drag shows unmistakably communicate advocacy for LGBT rights.”
Judge Kacsmaryk, appointed by Donald Trump twice before finally assuming office in 2019, suggests the First Amendment does not provide for freedom of expression for drag shows, calls drag “sexualized conduct,” and says it is “more regulable” because “children are in the audience.”
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern adds, “Kacsmaryk’s conclusion that drag is probably NOT protected by the First Amendment conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression. It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people.”
Calling the judge “a proud Christian nationalist who flatly refuses to apply binding Supreme Court precedent when it conflicts with his extremist far-right beliefs,” Stern at Slate writes that Kacsmaryk ruled drag “may be outlawed to protect ‘the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.’ In short, he concluded that drag fails to convey a message, while explaining all the reasons why he’s offended by the message it conveys.”
Stern does not let Kacsmaryk off the hook there.
“From almost any other judge, the ruling in Spectrum WT v. Wendler would be a shocking rejection of basic free speech principles; from Kacsmaryk, it’s par for the course. This is, after all, the judge who sought to ban medication abortion nationwide, restricted minors’ access to birth control, seize control over border policy to exclude asylum-seekers, and flouted recent precedent protecting LGBTQ+ equality,” Stern says.
“He is also poised to bankrupt Planned Parenthood by compelling them to pay a $1.8 billion penalty on truly ludicrous grounds. And he is not the only Trump-appointed judge substituting his reactionary beliefs for legal analysis. We have reached a point where these lawless decisions are not only predictable but inevitable, and they show no sign of stopping: Their authors are still just settling into a decadeslong service in the federal judiciary.”
West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler penned the letter that sparked the lawsuit.
Titled, “A Harmless Drag Show? No Such Thing,” Wendler wrote: “I believe every human being is created in the image of God and, therefore, a person of dignity. Being created in God’s image is the basis of Natural Law. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, prisoners of the culture of their time as are we, declared the Creator’s origin as the foundational fiber in the fabric of our nation as they breathed life into it. Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not.”
Journalist Chris Geidner concludes, “It’s an extremely biased ruling by a judge who has established that he does not care about being overturned — even by the most conservative appeals court in the nation.”
Gaetz Praises GOP Congressman Who Echoes His Call for Change ‘Through Force’
U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL). largely seen as pushing Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s Republican-majority House of Representatives toward shutting down the federal government, is praising and promoting remarks made by a freshman GOP lawmaker that appear to suggest the use of violence. U.S. Rep. Eli Crane‘s comments, posted Friday (below), call for change “through force,” remarks echoing Congressman Gaetz’s recent comments which were denounced by an expert on authoritarianism as fascistic.
“The only way we’re going to see meaningful change in this town is through force,” wrote Congressman Crane, Republican of Arizona atop a three-minute video in which he frames what is now an almost guaranteed government shutdown as a “spending fight.” In his video he says, “the only way you’re gonna get any change in this town is through force.” Gaetz in August had said, “we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C.”
Congressman Crane is a former Navy SEAL. He has promoted the false “Big Lie” conspiracy theory that there was massive fraud in the election President Joe Biden won, and called “on the state legislature to decertify the 2020 election.” He is one of six House Republicans who voted against McCarthy’s speakership all 15 times in January.
“Congressman Eli Crane is a fountainhead of political courage,” said Rep. Gaetz Friday afternoon. “He holds the line.”
Crane recently came under fire for calling Black people “colored,” during debate on his legislation that would force the U.S. Armed Forces to not use any diversity requirements in its hiring practices.
Just days before he won his House seat last year, The Washington Post reported Crane had urged an “audience to look up an antisemitic sermon at a recent campaign stop.”
“Crane said that he was motivated to run because of ‘radical ideologies that are destroying this country’ and that he was most concerned about ‘Cultural Marxism,’ which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as an antisemitic baseless claim gaining traction on the American right.”
“He encouraged the audience to watch a speech by a right-wing pastor who blamed cultural change on a group of German Jewish philosophers and condemned Barack Obama for having a ‘homosexual agenda.'”
“If we don’t wake up,” Crane said, according to the Post, “if we don’t study what they’re doing, and if we don’t put people in influential positions that understand what this war is all about, what they’re trying to do and have and have the courage to call it out, we’re going to lose this country.”
In August, while standing next to Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Congressman Gaetz said, “Mr. President, I cannot stand these people that are destroying our country. They are opening our borders. They are weaponizing our federal law enforcement against patriotic Americans who love this nation as we should.”
“But we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C. And so to all my friends here in Iowa, when you see them come for this man, know that they are coming for our movement and they are coming for all of us.”
At the time, Raw Story reported, “historian and author Ruth Ben-Ghiat called Gaetz comments alarming.”
“What he is saying is that they are not going to have change through elections or through legislation or through reform. They are going to have change through violence,” she warned.
“And that’s how fascists talk,” Ben-Ghiat added. “So, even if Trump is out of the picture, these are people who have adopted methods very familiar to me as a historian of fascism, that violence and corruption and lying that’s what the party is today.”
Image via Shutterstock
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