Political Correctness and Imperialism

With support for interventionism at an all-time low, the War Party is constantly on the lookout for fresh justifications of their failed and increasingly unpopular overseas meddling. The old saw about how "terrorists" mustn’t be allowed to establish "safe havens" is getting a bit stale, and was never all that persuasive to begin with: after all, the 9/11 attacks were planned in Hamburg, Germany. For the first time ever a majority of Americans think the ideal US foreign policy would be "minding our own business," as the wording of a recent Pew poll put it. So the old tart has to put on a new coat of paint and dress up in more fashionable raiment in order to keep her clientele and perhaps even attract some new ones.

Joe Biden is just the man for the job: brazenly opportunistic and happy to bloviate at a moment’s notice, the grandstanding Vice President declared this week that "protecting gay rights is a defining mark of a civilized nation and must trump national cultures and social traditions," according to NBC News.

"I don’t care what your culture is," he said, not telling us anything about American imperialism we didn’t already know. "Inhumanity is inhumanity is inhumanity. Prejudice is prejudice is prejudice."

And arrogance is arrogance is arrogance: but when you’re the mightiest military power in the history of mankind – oh, excuse me, humankind – the concept of hubris is one of those "unknown unknowns," to use a phrase popularized by Biden’s right-wing equivalent. Donald Rumsfeld’s arrogance came in a different color, to be sure, but underneath the wrapping the same product is being sold: the idea that the United States is and must be the moral arbiter and policeman of the world.

Hubris? Isn’t that a Greek dish, kinda like couscous only spicier?

The NBC report avers that the Obama administration’s effort, highlighted at a US government-sponsored conference addressed by Biden and National Security honcho Susan Rice, aims at "seeking to mobilize a global front against anti-gay violence," but that’s just the wrapping – when you look inside, it’s something else altogether. A "Fact Sheet" put out by the White House outlines comprehensive programs that are already in place and gives us a broad overview of the principle under which they operate. Under "Country Engagement," we are told:

"The United States regularly engages with host governments and civil society in countries that have discriminatory laws or are considering legislation that would criminalize consensual same-sex conduct between adults. We press to discourage passage wherever possible, and in cases where laws are on the books, to protect LGBT individuals from violence and discrimination that often accompany the enactment and enforcement of such legislation."

Notice the conflation of "violation" with "discrimination." According to the geniuses in the White House, murdering a gay person because of their sexual orientation is the equivalent of a baker refusing to prepare a wedding cake for a celebration of gay nuptials. This policy, by the way, is never applied to allies like Saudi Arabia, where the death penalty for homosexual activity is common: it’s only countries that don’t kowtow to Washington, like Russia, and relatively powerless African nations, that feel the pressure from Washington.

There’s more than just lip service paid to this new guiding principle of American foreign policy: they’re handing out lots of cash. As the Fact Sheet points out:

"The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has expanded its investments, including through the LGBT Global Development Partnership, totaling, for July 2012 to December 2013, approximately $11 million in stand-alone programs.  Funding has built the capacity of local NGOs and LGBT leaders, provided health solutions, and supported victims of violence.  In addition, through a groundbreaking partnership with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, USAID will enhance LGBT entrepreneurship and the growth of LGBT-led enterprises in up to six developing countries.  The Department of State-led Global Equality Fund is a multi-stakeholder initiative including governments, private foundations, and corporations that has provided more than $12 million since its launch in 2011 to promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons in over 50 countries worldwide."

Aside from the political payola aspect of this – i.e. the ability of the Obama administration to pay off its gay supporters with government subsidies and contracts – there is a disturbing pattern here. It evokes the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) model, a quasi-governmental organization that mobilizes the Chamber of Commerce (non-gay version), the AFL-CIO, and both major political parties in an international effort to meddle in the affairs of other nations and otherwise act as a "soft power" auxiliary to US-sponsored regime-change campaigns. Using taxpayer’s money and the resources of these powerful corporate and political pressure groups, the NED has been the advance guard of the Empire – think of it as a scouting party for an army waiting in the wings.

No one can object to Washington denouncing violence directed against gay people – or anyone – on account of their sexual identity. Yet it is quite a different thing to seek to legislate the social and economic policies of foreign countries that fail to meet our politically correct criteria. One way the US government tries to do this is by deploying trade agreements as weapons in its war on "anti-gay" practices abroad. From the Fact Sheet:

"Departments and agencies – from the Department of Commerce to the Export-Import Bank of the United States – raise concerns with economic and commercial actors about the effect on the business climate of laws, regulations, and practices that discriminate against LGBT persons. Several US trade agreements include opportunities for cooperative engagement between Parties to address labor-related concerns, including employment discrimination, which provides a mechanism for the US Trade Representative (USTR) to discuss concerns related to employment discrimination of LGBT persons."

Discrimination against gay people in employment and housing is, in my view, a despicable practice. Yet there are many millions throughout the world who would disagree with this view, for religious and other reasons. For the government of the United States to impose its "enlightened" moral stance on a world steeped in religious traditions that might not receive the approval of the gay lobby is a crusade that is not only futile but also contrary to our national interest – and the real interests of gay people abroad.

By conducting a "war on intolerance" in the same arrogant manner in which we wage our endless "war on terrorism," we are reaping a whirlwind of resentment – and whipping up the very hatred we claim to be fighting. Gay women and men in, say, Africa, who are currently being hounded and harassed by governments like those in Uganda are in no way helped by the Vice President’s disdain for local cultural and religious practices: indeed, the Ugandan demagogues pushing their anti-gay agenda are helped by the nationalist backlash Biden’s arrogance generates.

This isn’t an Obamaite innovation. The Obama administration is merely following in the footsteps of its predecessor in pushing political correctness as a weapon in their battle to expand American dominance worldwide. The Bush gang made a big deal about how their war in Afghanistan was in part a fight to ensure equality for Afghan women: we weren’t just fighting terrorists who wanted to destroy us, we were spending upwards of a trillion dollars and shedding the blood of our youth so that Afghan women would be able to learn to read.

Imperialism as a form of global cultural uplift is nothing new: the administration of William McKinley portrayed the American conquest of the Philippines as a civilizing mission that would lift up our "little brown brothers." We weren’t conquering them, we were "liberating" them, introducing people we considered little more than savages to the joys of modernity. In all the years since then, the mentality of the American ruling class hasn’t changed one bit: the cultural "norms" they seek to enforce may be different, but the crazy idea that we can go around the world uprooting the traditions of thousands of years is a constant. It’s not only crazy, it represents a mortal threat to our liberty, our prosperity, and the peace of the world.

How long before the War Party mobilizes its troops to "liberate" Uganda from "anti-gay oppression"?

This new initiative represents a growing trend in American war propaganda: it’s an explicit appeal to the international "left," which has mostly given up support for Marxism in favor of identity politics. As conservatives come to increasingly reject the idea that it’s America’s "right" and privilege to police the globe, the War Party has no choice but to appeal to the liberals – and interfering in the internal affairs of other nations in the name of "gay rights" is now a weapon in their arsenal. That liberals are falling for this nutty notion is yet more evidence of contemporary liberalism’s intellectual vacuity.


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I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].