Friday, September 22, 2006
by Wayne Besen
National Association of Research & Therapy of Homosexuality
Attn: Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, NARTH Executive Director
16633 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 1340Encino, CA 91436-1801
The National Black Justice Coalition is deeply troubled by an article written by Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D that has appeared on your organization's website. His comments reflect not only a misunderstanding of history, but a trivialization of the suffering caused by slavery.
As a member in good standing on NARTH's Scientific Advisory Board, we can only assume that Dr. Schoenewolf's statements are a reflection of your organization's beliefs and values. NBJC would like to know how NARTH rationalizes or justifies publishing an essay that stated the following:"With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America," wrote Schoenwolf. "It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle for most people, and that it was the Africans themselves who first enslaved their own people. They sold their own people to other countries, and those brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa. But if one even begins to say these things one is quickly shouted down as though one were a complete madman."
Dr. Nicolosi, we are particularly disturbed with Dr. Schoenewolf's comments drawing a parallel between the civil rights movement and the murder of innocent African Americans. Please clarify what message NARTH was trying to impart when Dr. Schoenewolf wrote the following statement?
"The irony is that the Civil Rights Movement has been vehement about pointing out the hysterical lynchings that took place in the Old South, but completely blind to its own hysterical tactics."
It has been exactly one week since Dr. Schoenewolf's article has been uncovered and no action has yet been taken on behalf of NARTH to distance itself from this divisive rhetoric. In lieu of such inaction, NBJC can only conclude that NARTH is in concurrence with such sentiments. Taking the offending article down off your website in the dead of night is no substitute for honestly and earnestly addressing this festering issue.
In the name of propriety, respect, common decency and professional integrity, NBJC strongly urges NARTH to issue a public apology on the front page of its website for publishing such an outrageous and offensive article. We also hope that you reevaluate your relationship with Dr. Schoenewolf whose peculiar views have no place in civilized discourse.
As the leader of NARTH and a prominent speaker on Focus on the Family's Love Won Out symposium, the messages imparted by you and NARTH have an impact on real people. We hope that you consider our concerns and contact us so we can hear NARTH's explanation on how such abhorrent and racially insensitive content found its way onto the group's website.
H. Alexander Robinson
The National Black Justice Coalition
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
by Wayne Besen
Same-sex marriage got a much-needed boost this month with former NBA basketball star Charles Barkley
and movie star Brad Pitt offering their endorsements. While it is too soon to call this a trend among heterosexual men, all cultural tsunamis start with trendsetters such as Barkley and Pitt.
On Fox SportsNet's "CMI: The Chris Meyers Interview," Barkley said, "I think if they want to get married, God bless them. Gay marriage is probably 1 percent of the population, so it's not like it's going to be an epidemic. Hey, trust me, I'm never going to kiss you and say, 'Chris, you're sexy.'"What makes the former National Basketball Association MVP's remarks special is that Barkley is the consummate tough guy. As a player, Barkley was as ferocious as he was fearless, even once tussling with giant Shaquille O'Neal, who is nearly a foot taller.
When a man of Barkley's stature embraces same-sex marriage, it gives tacit permission to every other muscle-bound brawler to support fairness and equality. The message sent to playgrounds across America is clear and unmistakable: "You can have an inclusive view of marriage and still be the toughest, straightest, baddest man on the court or field."
What Barkley did for gay liberation may have the larger affect of liberating enlightened straight athletes who are encouraged to play the ridiculous game of degrading gay people to prove their manhood. Many of these men want to express their disgust with homophobia instead of homosexuals. However, they are afraid that by standing up for their gay friends, they will be labeled gay. Barkley has subtlety reversed this equation by showing that the new way to show one is completely comfortable with his sexuality is to support gay rights.
In an equally stunning revelation, matinee idol Brad Pitt took a bold stand
to stop marriage segregation. In an interview with Esquire Magazine, Pitt declared that, "Angie [Angelina Jolie] and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able."
In their efforts to "save" marriage, conservatives are really undermining the institution. As gay people gain more acceptance each year, it may soon become socially unacceptable in some circles to partake in a ceremony associated with sexual orientation apartheid.Of course, this raises the issue of whether it is appropriate for gay people to attend weddings. There are already some gays who refuse to go to these ceremonies as a way to protest and educate their families and friends on the discrimination they face.
Wrestling with such a momentous decision can be excruciating and create a moral dilemma. On one hand, there is a deep desire to honor the people we love on the most important day of their lives. Skipping such an event means missing a rite of passage and the opportunity for deep emotional bonding with the people we most care about.Nonetheless, each time we attend heterosexual weddings, we may be perpetuating the ugliest of prejudices and participating in a form of Jim Crow.
Skipping weddings is a way of showing extreme sacrifice and can offer a rare opportunity to make our friends and relatives reflect on the injustice and inequality faced by people they love and respect.The vast majority of GLBT people still attend weddings and view them as apolitical events. However, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain such a position when high-profile heterosexuals are saying that they won't wed until we can.Although it sometimes appears that the marriage debate is a losing battle, if you look at the bigger picture we are actually winning.
The GLBT community has spent the last several years highlighting our love and commitment and it is beginning to have an effect. Even men who define machismo, such as Pitt and Barkley, are recognizing the fundamental unfairness of denying gay people the freedom to marry.The process of such enlightenment was vividly portrayed in a column by Russell Shaw on the Huffington Post
website. In his column, he explains a powerful moment on an airplane when he encountered a gay couple:
"Below the frequent cloud cover, I imagined all those Red state voters, who sincerely believe that the God they prayed to earlier that day (Sunday) would be offended by sanctified unions such as those of the two men I me...And as night fell, and as children slept, I passed the two married gentlemen while on my way to the commode. They were asleep, too. Hand in hand. And it was then I - a straight-but-not-narrow male, realized I was looking at love - a love as real as any in a world with not enough love."
Each day, as more straight people find the concept of two men or women marrying less scary, the religious right should be more and more unsettled that their war against gay marriage is really one against love itself.And that is one war they ultimately can't win.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
by Wayne Besen
We already knew that George W. Bush was losing the war in Iraq, but a New York Times article reveals that he may also be losing the war on drugs. In his bloodlust to avenge Saddam's attempt to kill Poppy, Bush invaded Iraq and left the Afghan poppy fields in the hands of a resurgent Taliban
. The President's failure to smack down the black turbans has led to a 50 percent spike in smack production, accounting for more than 92 percent of the world's opium supply on the black market.
Having mastered the law of unintended consequences, Bush's bungling in Afghanistan has somehow led to the proliferation of both syringes and Sharia (Islamic Law). Sadly, this new OPEC (Opium Producing Exporting Countries) is the only industry that seems to be working in the forgotten country that actually had something to do with 9-11.
Now that the duel distractions of the Israeli/Hezbollah war and John Karr have subsided, the public is once again focused on the Iraqi debacle in the run up to midterm elections. With pundits pontificating about a Democratic takeover of the House, Bush gave a cynical speech once again tying Osama bin Laden to the quagmire in Iraq. Trying to confuse Americans, Bush sounded alarms about Osama working to create a caliphate based in Baghdad.
This notion is absurd when one considers that Al Qaeda is comprised of Sunni Muslims and the real threat to freedom in Iraq comes from the Shiite majority who are quickly turning southern Iraq into a mini-Iran. We now face newly empowered and heavily armed WMD's - Weapons of Mullah Destruction - that are transforming the plan for democracy into a pit of theocracy.
With the American invasion having created a vacuum of viciousness, the murderous Mullahs have gladly stepped in to fill the void. London activist Peter Tatchell
revealed on the web-site Iraqi LGBT
, which monitors the condition of gay Iraqis, the extent of the horror for all Iraqi citizens under control of the Ayatollahs:
"Parts of Iraq, including some Baghdad neighborhoods, are now under the de facto control of Taliban-style fundamentalist militias," wrote Tatchell. "They enforce a savage interpretation of Sharia law, summarily executing people for 'crimes' like listening to western pop music, wearing shorts or jeans, drinking alcohol, selling videos, working in a barber's shop, homosexuality, dancing, having a Sunni name, adultery and, in the case of women, not being veiled or walking in the street unaccompanied by a male relative."
Tatchell goes on to report that these zealots are zeroing in on anyone who appears to be gay. He paints a portrait of a nation where homosexuals are routinely blackmailed, hunted like wild game and barbarically raped and riddled with bullets. Even families are sometimes harassed and threatened if they refuse to rat gay family members out of hiding. Here is an excerpt from the Iraqi LGBT website:
"The father of 23 year old Baghdad arts student, Karzan, has been told by militias that his son has been sentenced to death for being gay. If his father refuses to hand over Karzan for execution, the militia has threatened to kill the family one by one. This has already happened to Bashar, 34, an actor. Because his parents refuse to reveal his hiding place, the Badr militia murdered two of his family members in retribution."
Such reports are hard to verify without a Baghdad Bureau. However, these stories are not difficult to imagine when one considers that Grand Ayatollah
Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa earlier this year ordering the execution of gay Iraqis."Those who commit sodomy must be killed in the harshest way," ordered al Sistani.
The situation in Iraq is so dire that the Grand Ayatollah is considered one of the "good guys" by coalition forces. The hatred of such maniacal Mullahs toward gays makes one nostalgic for the days when we just had to deal with the ranting of Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.
If this is what freedom looks like in Iraq, it is time to begin a phased withdrawal as soon as possible. The slaughter
of 40 Iraqis this week in Baghdad also reminds us that the conflict is likely spiraling towards an all-out civil war. Instead of one terrible Saddam, it appears there are now thousands of mini-Saddam types executing imagined heathens, heretics and homos with reckless abandon.
The Republicans can cry cut and run, but their failed policy of lie and deny is killing American troops. Iraq has backfired and become a tinderbox of terror that will likely punish the GOP at the ballot box in November. Even the new and improved Taliban can't grow enough Opium to anesthetize the pain that President Bush's mind numbing policies have brought the world.