When I see Vladimir Putin, I see Adolf Hitler. He’s been in the news lately more than the Kardashians, so it’s hard to escape that image. I see a loon of a man who is more concerned with maintaining whatever sort of old world Russian heritage he thinks still exists, and who is willing to let innocent people be bullied, harassed, and killed in order to keep that heritage “pure.” I see a man that wants so badly to maintain Puppetmaster control of a Ukrainian government that he will go against a nation’s call for democracy, even sending armed Russian troops into a standoff against an unarmed and broke Ukrainian military force (because that’s fair, right?). I see a man that yields so much power, thanks to Russian business and oil reserves, that the entire European Union is terrified to piss him off.
It may seem like there’s no connection between human rights violations and his actions against Ukraine, but there is. Hitler too wanted power, and was willing to use force to get it. He used German resources in order to invade other countries (even Hillary Clinton has made this comparison), all the while exterminating millions of people. Why exterminate? Because in order to get the support of the majority, you’ve gotta turn ‘em against somebody. Who’s the easy target? Minorities! World War II wasn’t fought over the murder of millions of innocent people, it was fought over land and power.
There’s been a lot written about what’s happening to LGBT people in Russia, so I won’t go too far into it. You should read the Advocate cover story “Love in Putin’s Russia,” (FULL DISCLOSURE: Chadwick Moore, the author of that piece, is a close, personal friend and former roommate, and you should like everything he does), and support the Human Rights Watch work on the matter. But what’s striking to me about the current course of events is how strikingly similar they are to Hitler’s Germany. First start with persecuting a minority group, then move on to invading other countries. Could this just be the beginning?
74 percent of Russians polled don’t think homosexuals should be accepted by society. You think they came to that conclusion on their own? Of course not. It’s institutional discrimination, and it’s being led by Putin. By blaming what’s wrong with society on the minority, he’s using the majority to support his crazy ideas, like keeping Ukraine under Russian control in every way except on paper.
Groups like “Occupy Pedophilia,” under the guise of catching pedophiles, have systematically targeted, kidnapped, harassed, and likely killed homosexuals. I say “likely” because a death isn’t going to be listed as a hate crime, so there’s no way of knowing if a person was murdered for being gay. These groups, made up mostly of neo-Nazis, are posting their crimes online, not blurring their faces, openly incriminating themselves. But are they being arrested? Of course not. Not stopping them is another way the Putin government is rallying and brainwashing the majority, using fear of the unknown (the gays!) as a scare tactic.
Something big is going on in Russia, and I feel like the Obama administration recognizes that. There are some politicians who are using this moment for politics (looking at you John McCain). By getting involved, the U.S. government, and hopefully the European Union, is sending a message to Putin’s government that says, “We’ve got our eyes on you.” But if we’re able to stop him from using military force against Ukraine, can we maybe try and stop him from letting neo-Nazi thugs kill LGBT people? I don’t know the answer, and I’m too afraid to wait and see. The U.S. also waited out Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, and because of that millions of people were murdered senselessly. That might seem like an extreme comparison, but if it’s so easy for this level of discrimination to happen in a rich and powerful country like Russia, who’s to say it can’t also get worse or happen in other civilized countries? Perhaps it already is, but we’re too busy watching the Kardashians to notice.