Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Death Squads Now Targetting Gays in Iraq: Many Flee

I have mentioned elsewhere that, while I abhore all dictatorships, brutal secular dictatorships are often slightly better than brutal theocratic dictatorships. Under Saddam and the Baathists, Iraq was a brutal, incredibly repressive dictatorship that was a threat to minority groups within its borders (like the Kurds), and sometimes to its neighbors (Iran, Kuwait, Turkey, and, at least during Gulf War I, Israel). It was a brutal, repressive, dangerous dictatorship that the U.S. armed and loved until Kuwait, but STILL, it was never a nice place to live. Yet, for all that, the 1 million Iraqi Christians were protected under the Baathists from extremist Muslims. Now, as I reported earlier, they have been leaving Iraq in droves.

Women now have much FEWER rights than under Saddam (not that this bothers many Christian fundamentalists who share the same attitudes toward women). Those not wearing veils have been targetted for honor killings.

And, now, as Jennifer Copestake reports in the U.K. Observer, Shi’ite death squads are targetting suspected gays and lesbians. Those who can are fleeing. Again, a brutal, but secular, dictatorship protected sexual minorities from those who would enforce a rigid understanding of Sharia law. It is clear that some Christian fundamentalists (not all, but some) would also like to impose that here, too.

For the purposes of this post, I don’t care WHAT your opinions are on the morality of same-sex acts or other aspects of “homosexuality.” I would HOPE that you would nevertheless have the decency to realize that universal human rights (like the right to life, not being tortured, harassed, etc.) belong to everyone, including those some of us believe to be immoral. Let us stand up for the rights of all persecuted minorities, including gays and lesbians now forced to flee Iraq–and those GLBT folk who are persecuted in the U.S.A., too.

August 7, 2006 - Posted by | GLBT issues, human rights., Iraq


  1. Great post MIchael! I hope that many others will recognize how glbt people are persecuted!

    Comment by JC Baker | August 7, 2006

  2. You know, one of the reasons I think invasive, optional wars such as this Iraq invasion are against conservative doctrine is because one tenet of classic conservatism is prudence. We are flawed humans who can not know what will happen as a result of our actions and so while it may seem like a good thing to get rid of Saddam (and probably was a good thing), we just didn’t plan on what the results would be if we simply go in and oust him because we can.

    One of the reasons given for invading the sovereign nation of Iraq was because Saddam’s regime was killing people, as indeed was happening. But if what happens WITHOUT Saddam is that even MORE people die (which remains to be seen), does that nullify the reason in the first place?

    Our conservatives are not acting conservatively.

    Comment by Dan Trabue | August 9, 2006

  3. Yes, among Republicans, Libertarian, and Independendents, there has been considerable hostility between traditional conservatives (who do value prudence) and neo-conservatives who believe (a) U.S. economic and military power is an unqualified good and (b) that power should be used to promote liberal democracies with free markets–by force if necessary.

    Ironically, it is usually liberals who advocate the spread of democracy (although, since WWI, they have usually been very cautious about attempting this militarily) and was one reason that (non-pacifist) liberals would take stands that suddenly made war more likely.

    When Bush debated Gore in 2000 and said that the U.S. military was the “wrong tool for nation-building,” I agreed. Too many of my liberal friends focused on his claim that the U.S. had no vital interests in Africa and missed this part. I still wanted Gore to win, but I hailed this point as a truth that liberals needed to hear. (The problem was that neither Bush nor Gore asked the question, “If building nations so that they do not become failed states and havens for terrorists is a good thing, and the U.S. military is the wrong tool for nation-building, then what are the right tools? That would have led to a major, much-needed discussion of the practices of just peacemaking.)

    I think Bush was sincere in that debate. Unfortunately, he picked a cabinet dominated by neo-cons who converted him after 9/11 and Bush adopted his whole “preemptive war” doctrine. Now, he has so much of his self-identity (“I’m a war president”) wrapped up in Iraq that he can’t seem to fathom why he needs an entirely new approach to foreign policy.

    I fear that the backlash from this will be a new period of American isolationism–not a good thing. The question is not WHETHER to be engaged with the world, but HOW.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | August 9, 2006

  4. Michael,
    Let me recommend another Yoder book: “The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited”. A collection of his essays edited by Michael G. Cartwright and Peter Ochs (Eerdmans). Superb.

    Comment by humblebarfly | August 9, 2006

  5. Thanks, Humble. I think you meant this comment to go with the “one book” post, but no matter. I’ve read that book. In fact, I read it when it was just a few essays that Yoder circulated. It was published posthumously. I have read nearly everything Yoder ever wrote. (I can’t quite say “everything” because more unpublished material keeps being discovered and published posthumously.) He was the external reader of my dissertation, a longtime mentor through his writings, and, for the last several years of his life, my friend. When he stepped down as the pacifist co-chair of the War & Peace interest group at the Society of Christian Ethics, I had the honor of being chosen in his place–the first Ph.D. student chosen to lead an SCE interest group.

    Michael Cartwright is a friend and I’ve met Peter Ochs, too. Both were at Yoder’s funeral in ’97 as I was. It seems like yesterday–I suppose because I’m still not ready for Yoder to finish teaching me. ūüôā

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | August 9, 2006

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: