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Culture & Religion

The end of gay liberation

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Proust’s law: you always get what you want when you no longer want it.


Gay is everywhere. Canada's new loonie celebrates 50 years of official gaydom, Ontario lived under 4 years with open lesbian premier Kathleen Wynne. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves at the crowds at Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade, like Queen Elizabeth, along with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (Much love and happy pride to all!), and Toronto Mayor John Tory. The marchers were probably less than 10,000, but spectators  50,000+.


The police were denied their own delegation, resented for taking so long to find serial killer Bruce McArthur, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to murdering eight men with ties to the gay village. The sole dissenting political voice was Ontario Premier Doug Ford, fresh from an election victory that was subtley anti-gay, who refused to participate in the march. He covered himself in the now stridently pro-gay media, by attending a small gathering in York Region earlier in ‘GayPride Month’ for the de rigueur photo-op.


The over-the-top celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York (150,000 marchers, 3m spectators), the birthplace of World Gay Pride, was preceded by the Queer Liberation March, sans corporate floats and police, protesting the gentrification of the event and the movement in general.


All the celebratory marches ignore the stark truth that the height of gaylib was long ago, 1978 (novelists Holleran, Kramer, photographer Mapplethorpe, choreographer Joffrey). The next 40 years has been a slow motion hangover, the homosexualization of America, which has left the US in a moral mess.


Who better to turn to for assessing the state of the union than Edmund White, author of The Joy of Gay Sex (1977), who lived through those 50 years and has written more than anyone else about it?

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Egyptian president - casualty of social media

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Mohamed Morsi will be more remembered in Canada and the US (if at all) as a textbook case of how the internet can catapult someone to fame and just as easily destroy him.


The Muslim Brotherhood benefited from a revolution largely facilitated by social media, which was able to catalyze widespread anger with Hosni Mubarak in January 2011, and gave the Egyptian army the chance to dismiss a dictator who was despised by all. Once the logjam was broken, transparent elections catapulted the MB to power.

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From Vietnam to Afghanistan: Myra Breckinridge to the rescue

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As Afghanistan enters its last dreadful lap, much like Vietnam circa 1970, I have been looking back to what fiction from those ‘golden days’ had to say, when students were alive with antiwar politics and sexual revolution, the empire at its peak of power and savagery. The parallels are bleak, and very, very enlightening.


In Norman Mailer’s Why Are We in Vietnam? (1967), the rich Texan D.J.’s son spends the night in a tent with his best friend. They feel lust for the other, but intuit that the only response to such desire is violence; they will never be lovers, but only ‘killer brothers’.


They (and their fathers) worship their high-powered guns. They revel in shooting an exquisite fox, standing nobly at dawn, a magnificent grizzly, wounded and running crazily in pain. The atmosphere is full of cruel violence against the natural order and lack of understanding of reality. Then, in the final sentence, ‘off to Vietnam we go.’ Argh.


It was then that I turned to Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge (1968) and Myron (1974).

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The Bible: Recipe for genocide or junk sculpture?

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What exactly is the religious rationale for Israel as a Jewish state? Who better to ask than an America Jewish secular journalist. We can assume that makes our investigative journalist a zionist (90% of Jews support Israel), but, as a journalist, and secular, our protagonist assures the reader he is interested in giving us as objective a version as can be expected.


David Plotz’s Good Book: The bizarre, hilarious, disturbing, marvelous, and inspiring things I learned when I read every single word of the Bible (2009) puts the Old Testament (OT) under his microscope, knowing virtually zip about the religion, not practicing, nor forced to go to Saturday Hebrew school. Locke’s ‘blank slate’, sort of.


Plotz loves the ironies and contradictions of his journey and the Bible itself. He starts out believing vaguely in the existence of God, but not observing the rituals. During his 365 days of plodding through the book, he comes to admire the rituals, and starts observing shabat Friday dinners, complete with prayers, celebrating passover, new year, sukkoth.


But he’s not at all happy with the God the OT reveals. “I leave the bible as a hopeless and angry agnostic. I’m brokenhearted about God. God made me rational so I must use the tools to think about him. Submit him to rational and moral inquiry. And he fails that examination. The history of Judaism is an effort to grapple with the bible’s horror.”

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Back to the future: From Jackson to ‘the Donald’

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Who in US presidential history even comes close to Trump? While corporations run America for all intents and purposes, it has been unusual for a hardcore businessman to take the helm. Founders like Washington and Jefferson were plantation owners. Most were lawyers, military (9 generals), political hacks (including lots of governors, senators and VPs), even a university president (Wilson, Yale). But businessman? Who bragged of making and losing and making a fortune?


None of the previous 44 presidents are listed as businessmen, though Andrew Jackson (1767–1845, president 1829–1837) cries out as Trump’s prototype. Jackson’s parents emigrated from northern Ireland, he was orphaned at 14, used his wiles to become a “frontier lawyer”, and made a fortune in speculation of lands which by law were Cherokee, but which hungry settlers were stealing at gunpoint. That made him a gentleman plantation owner and businessman. (Think: Trump Towers, casinos)

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html