October 05, 2007

A Tale of Two Theocracies

David Rhea has a column in The Advocate drawing disturbing parallels to the theocratic leader or Iran and the President George W. Bush, who evidence shows would like the same type of job description:

Very little that happens in this perplexing world truly rates as surprising anymore. Yet Monday’s remarks by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University stunned just about everyone who heard them.

According to Ahmadinejad, gay people simply do not exist in Iran. Gays are a mere “phenomenon” that occurs, he suggests, only in Western culture. It reminds me of former first mother Lillian Carter's assertion a couple of decades ago that gays also don’t exist in Georgia, which one could excuse somewhat as age and the faultless ignorance of the times and culture in which she was raised.

While Ahmadinejad may have a cultural void in common with dear Miss Lillian, he certainly cannot attribute any portion of his ignorance to the times or to age.
Perhaps the real phenomenon here is the culture that allows a man with such a clear void of either intellectual curiosity or a firm grasp of historical and scientific reality to ascend to the highest office in his country -- albeit in Iran, where that office is effectively a theocratic dictatorship.

Upon reflection, two bitter realities then hit.

First, numerous reasonable, highly respected individuals have said the very same about the heads of America’s current regime. What is our excuse?

And second, while Ahmadinejad’s assertion that there are no gays in Iran seems preposterous on the surface, his statement -- while not quite true just yet -- is increasingly becoming reality with each passing month. When a reporter informed Mr. Ahmadinejad after his remarks that she personally knew many gays in Iran, he openly asked for their addresses so that his country’s authorities could check into it.

Click here to read the entire essay.


  1. Are you seriously going to minimize the evils of the Iranian regime by trying to draw a parallel to Bush? Can't we just criticize someone who is not just unsupportive, but downright murderous in his intentions?

    Does every criticism of an evil have to be made with the silly caveat: "Sure, Ahmadinejad's evil and murders gay people; but Bush wanted that amendment!!! And really, when you get down to it; isn't that the same thing?"

    It just sounds petty when people can't denounce real evil without trying to link it to political opponents.

  2. PSU--
    As the author of the commentary, I felt compelled to respond. First, thanks for reading it. However, you have mistakenly tried to link it to a presumed political agenda. I assure you there is none. I not only have openly supported -- but also worked closely with -- public officials on both sides of the aisle. But for the record, at least as of now, I have never devoted one second of my time to furthering any political opponent of the current administration, nor anyone else now running for president. So, please refrain from reading non-existing motives into my message.

    To reemphasize the underlying point of the commentary: there is an evolving but very real danger we face as a society when we allow religious fundamentalism to slowly creep, inch by inch, into matters of public policy. No, of course the current religious climate in America cannot possibly compare with the purely evil acts taking place in Iran -- acts to which I have attempted only to draw greater public awareness. In no way was my commentary intended to minimize those evils, as you suggest. Quite the contrary.

    My commentary also makes no mention whatsoever of an "amendment", but I can only assume you must be referring to the proposed so-called defense-of-marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As troubling as I personally consider that amendment to be, there were quite frankly far greater issues on my mind when I wrote the commentary. Despite the considerable gains that gays have made in advancing equality in recent years, the rhetoric and actions of the Bush administration nonetheless have in fact emboldened far too many self-righteous bigots. And yes, this administration's policies have helped to fuel the increase in hate crimes, HIV infection, drug abuse and teen suicide attempts, among other things, that the gay community has experienced in recent years -- which, tragically, all too often DO indirectly result in deaths.

    While these certainly pale in comparison with what is taking place in Iran, when you get right down to it, they are borne of the very same spirit of judging-thy-neighbor -- a role that we should all just leave to Our Creator. And wouldn't this world be a far better place if we all would just remember that?

  3. David,

    Thanks for logging in here and sharing your comments with us. When discussing a writer's work, it's always good to hear directly from the source.

  4. Jim -- Just wanted to add that you and your wife are the ones who deserve a sincere "thanks", for the tremendous work you are doing. You are reaching the hearts and minds of people in ways that mere words never could, and I hope you will keep up the great work!