those baffled by this odd admixture of fashion and foreign
policy, the full meaning of Ford's latest encyclical is revealed in FashionWindows,
where Godfrey Deeny solemnly announces the highlight of Milan's
"fashion week" for Fall 2001 just as if he were,
oh, Robert Novak or Michael Barone reporting from the campaign
return of the right in fashion received a further boost in
a Gucci show that was one of the most conservative Tom Ford
has yet designed. Except for its racy ending passages, the
collection was also largely lacking in one of the key components
in Gucci's extraordinary success sex. "
a turnaround for the openly gay Ford, who once
told a French magazine that "I am in favor of sexy
clothing, all my career is founded on that." The long
march of the neoconservatives through our cultural and political
institutions has ended, finally, on the runways of Milan.
It looks like Francis Fukuyama was right, after all, for surely
this signals the End
SAN FRANCISCO OF SOUTH ASIA
also averred in the same interview that the "labels"
gay and straight would soon disappear, plaintively asking
why shouldn't male models wear lots of make-up
since they're "even more beautiful like that"? His
prediction, meanwhile, seems to have come true, at least in
one part of liberated Afghanistan: the Times of London
recently reported that Mullah Omar's former stronghold has
now come out of the
closet "as the gay capital of South Asia" since
throwing off "the strictures of the Taliban." Tim
Reid reports from Kandahar:
that Taliban rule is over in Mullah Omar's former southern
stronghold, it is not only televisions, kites and razors which
have begun to emerge. Visible again, too, are men with their
ashna, or beloveds: young boys they have groomed for sex."
had a reputation as the
San Francisco of South Asia long before Mullah Omar came
to power, and even the former Taliban governor admitted that he faced a "dilemma" of
what to do about homosexuality in a society where the
sexes were so strictly segregated. It seems there were three main
schools of thought on the issue:
group of scholars believes you should take these people to
the top of the highest building in the city and hurl them
to their deaths. [Other scholars] recommend you dig a pit
near a wall somewhere, put these people in it, then topple
the wall so that they are buried alive."
third option, putting homosexuals on public display with blackened
faces, was favored by a relatively moderate majority faction:
for practical purposes, this was the punishment most often
carried out, when it was enforced at all. Jamie Glazov,
of Frontpage.com, and others have psychologized the Taliban
as woman-hating homos, but this facile view overlooks the
history of the Taliban movement and how it came to power.
As the Times points out, "The rape of young boys
by warlords was one of the key factors in Mullah Omar mobilizing
Omar's consolidation of Taliban power, Afghanistan was in
the hands of what is called today the Northern Alliance, the
loose collection of warlords and brigands who took over the
country in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal. The various
commanders, looting and raping their way from one end of the
country to the other, often came in conflict over the spoils
of war, until finally, as the Times reports:
the summer of 1994, a few months before the Taliban took control
of the city, two commanders confronted each other over a young
boy whom they both wanted to sodomize.
the ensuing fight civilians were killed. Omar's group freed
the boy and appeals began flooding in for Omar to help in
other disputes. By November, Omar and his Taliban were Kandahar's
new rulers. Despite the Taliban disdain for women, and the
bizarre penchant of many for eyeliner, Omar immediately suppressed
on men bizarre? My hate-crime alarm is going off.
Besides, if Tom Ford says "they're even more beautiful
like that" then, dearie, that settles it and I
give it "Two
SECOND COMING OF ORWELL
interesting to see that certain prominent members of the gay
community have now become the spearhead so to speak
of the War Party. Andrew Sullivan, the openly gay commentator
and former editor of The New Republic, is the virtual
commander-in-chief of the pro-war bloggers. Having made a
cottage industry out of berating war critics like Susan Sontag,
and other easy targets, Sullivan has turned his
site into a virtual compendium of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim
diatribes alternating between potshots at John Derbyshire
and highly edited passages from the works of George Orwell.
According to Ron Rosenbaum
of the New York Observer, Sullivan, along with fellow
expatriate British writer Christopher
Hitchens, is Orwell reincarnated. If indeed there is
something Orwellian about Sullivan, then he brings to mind
Orwell's scathing description, in "Politics
and the English Language," of the writer who abuses
words in the service of ideology. (See especially the section
on "pretentious diction.")
Hitchens, as far as I can tell, is a hetero or else
is on the blink the man who exulted that we have "bombed
a country out of the Stone Age" belongs to the same
high gloss milieu as Sullivan and Ford. As the resident leftie
at Vanity Fair a magazine with more homoerotic
appeal than the stodgy old Advocate
he fits right in with the gay neocon glitteratti who
hail President Karzai for his chic attire and sing the praises
of "liberated" Afghanistan. Vanity Fair just
featured a series of photographs depicting "the White
House in Wartime," by Annie
Leibovitz, personal photographer to the rich and/or famous,
whose overdramatized style perfectly illustrates Hitchens'
everyone, however, is pleased by this rather obvious manifestation
of imperial decadence. Button-downed Tunku Varadarajan,
over at the War
Street Journal, doesn't know quite what to make of
his glitzy new allies. Ford's florid endorsement of the Afghan
President may be "too, too flip," and that sound
we hear may Gucci's glamour boy "letting the air out
of his head," but on the other hand:
war, to be sure, has been a good one for those who would find
glamour wherever they can. The people of Afghanistan are handsome
and rugged, their hair and eyes improbably lustrous for denizens
of a dusty war zone."
SUPREME TACKINESS OF LIFE
Varadarajan, it's plain to see, missed his true calling. Instead
of editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal,
he should be over at Vanity Fair, or perhaps working
for Mr. Ford, recruiting butch Afghan types for the runways
of Milan. In the interests of popularizing this war, even
the dour Wall Street Journal is willing to abate their
"don't you know there's a war on?" puritanism long
enough to allow for a little glamour. "The Afghan effect,"
says Varadarajan, has us all "agog" and we are all
"swept up" in the "exoticism" of this
give you a concrete example of this Afghan effect: Lucianne
Goldberg, the talk show host and publisher of the Lucianne.com
news forum, has embarked on a fashion project called 'American
Burkas,' velvet hoods with silk linings that cover the hair
and, as she puts it, 'make women slightly less visible on
a bad hair day.' Seamstresses in China are currently engaged
in getting these items ready for sale in America."
say "everything changed" after 9/11, but surely
this can't mean that people have suddenly become a
lot tackier. Not that Lucianne
Goldberg, the Queen of Dish who parlayed a bit part in
Monicagate into an ongoing gig, was ever anything but tacky
and proud of it.
OF THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
New York fashionistas make war propaganda for fun and
profit, and the Beautiful People go to war in the name of
"modernity," the "liberation" of women
and homosexuals has been a central theme. Much is made of
the burka, and the un-liberated state of Afghan women
under the Taliban although the victory of the Northern
Alliance is not
likely to liberate them from either the burka or
traditional Afghan gender roles.
the gay rights front, Rich Tafel, the Log
Cabin Republican, is linking the war to the gay rights
a series of pro-war newspapers ads, starting in the Washington
Post. And as for the San Francisco-ization of Kandahar:
to be fair, Sullivan did mutter disapprovingly in his weblog
at the news of rampant pederasty in that city. But it's also
true that he has regularly excoriated the Taliban as well
as the Saudis for their medieval treatment of gays and even
devoted an entire
essay to arguing that if "war changes everything,"
it could change American attitudes and institutions in ways
that would advance the gay cause. This war, he argued, is
more than an opportunity to sneak through gays in the military,
it would also give gays the chance to strike back at their
of all wars, this is surely one in which gay America can take
a proud and central part. The men who have launched a war
on this country see the freedom that gay people have here
as one of the central reasons for their hatred."
WAR ON GAY AMERICA
is not just a war on America, but on Gay America: the way
Sullivan goes on about it, you'd think that he believed
along with Jerry Falwell
that Al Qaeda's next target is likely to be San Francisco.
Naturally Sullivan will make the same arguments to call for
strikes against Iraq, Iran, Syria, or even the Saudis: well,
you see, they don't like gays (although they bugger
each other every chance they get gee, is this what
it means to be "bi
curious"?). So, of course, we have to start bombing
them, and, say, why not invade and occupy the entire region?
After all, we mustn't rest until they have same-sex marriage
in Saudi Arabia and gays in the Iranian military.
NOT INVADE THE WORLD?
of the loudest voices in the chorus of war whoops are coming
from the gay side of the aisle not
that there's anything wrong with that. It's just, with
the war being presented in these terms, this particular gay
guy can only reject Sullivan's call to arms with the disdain
it deserves. For how many countries on earth fail to measure
up in the gay rights department? Half? 90 percent? In that
case, why not just invade the world all of it!
as Murray N. Rothbard
once ruefully suggested, and be done with it?
too bad, though, that all this brouhaha about the liberation
of gays in Afghanistan leaves us American gays relatively
unaffected. They're having a gay old time in Kandahar, but
right here in the good old USA yours truly is coming under
some pretty heavy fire from pro-war types in a real snit over
somebody else's sexuality mine.
fairly typical response from the pro-war "bloggers"
column on their little sub-universe was the following
from someone by the name of Damien Penny, a Canadian whose
"warblog" is cleverly titled "Daimnation!":
WITH GOOGLE: I used that great search engine to find some
dirt on anti-blogger Justin Raimondo (see below). Turns out
he was a GOP candidate for Congress in 1996 and a supporter
of Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign. Oh, yeah, he's also
I hear you asking an openly gay person who supports a notorious
homophobe for President? This is getting more surreal by the
understand that they don't have a lot up in Canada, including
a sense of their own national identity which is
perhaps why a foreigner like Mr. Penny takes such an inordinate
and unseemly interest in what is, after all, an internal American
debate over foreign policy. Call it xenophobia, and politically
incorrect to the max Mr. Penny, it should be noted,
likened me to David Duke but this is what American
unilateralism really means. When it comes to deciding whether
we're going to stay a republic, or become an empire, I'd rather
foreigners stayed out of it, or at least had the tact to keep
their voices reasonably low and their tone civil.
they don't have a lot up there in the Canadian wilds, including
right-wing libertarians such as myself who have never made
a particularly big deal about being homosexual. I suppose
it's inconceivable that an openly gay man could speak for
the candidate of Canada's
right-wing Reform/Alliance party as I
did for Pat Buchanan at the 2000 convention of America's
Reform party, held in Long Beach, California. But then, that's
just one of the many benefits of the Internet: to open formerly
closed circuits in some pretty narrow minds.
was also a theme of Ken
Layne's relatively affable response: it was kinda scary,
though, to see how quickly certain straight guys can tease
a homoerotic subtext out of practically anything: out of an
entire essay of 3,500 words, he zeroed right in on my description
of his prose as "overly muscular." He came back
later and said I should "chill out." Okay, Ken:
but you first.
Jacobs also played up
the gay angle, writing:
opposes U.S. military action apparently, even in self-defense because of its libertarian isolationism. It's also rabidly
anti-Israel. I've noticed that warbloggers are strongly (but
not rabidly) pro-Israel. Here's a question for libertarian
warbloggers: What's the connection? Is it because Israel is
a Western country? A democracy? Because we were attacked by
Islamic militants and our enemy's enemy must be our friend?
Or do you think it's just a Raimondo peculiarity a Gays
for Buchanan thing that he makes excuses for Arab leaders
and condemns Israel?"
ARE THEY NOW?
is no enemy of mine: it is Israel's self-appointed lobby in
the US, and the policies of the present government, that has
me questioning her value as an ally. When I hear, four days
running, Carl Cameron of Fox News tell me that Israel maintains
an extensive spy operation in the US, and that this Israeli
intelligence network may have had foreknowledge of 9/11, I
begin to have my doubts. When I see the story covered up,
and not pursued, except
by the heroic Newsmax, and Antiwar.com, I can't help but
think: where are all these warbloggers who boast that they
your ass" now?
Jacobs is one blogger who's stingy with her links: she asserts
that I "make excuses for Arab leaders" but when?
Where? How? There's no link. You guys had better start
fact-checking your own asses, and quit being so damn
hold no brief for any Arab regime, although I must admit to
a grudging admiration
for Pakistan's General Musharraf, who is very skillfully
walking a high tightrope. I have an even more grudging admiration
for the Israelis, the right-wingers like Sharon and Netanyahu
in particular, because at least they know enough to put their
own country first. But Israel's national interests and ours,
far from being identical, are in my view mutually antithetical
when it comes to the Middle East.
"connection" you're asking about is the connection
between so many of Israel's biggest supporters in the US and
the drive to expand the "war on terrorism" to Iraq,
Iran, and beyond. Just as in the Gulf War, so today, the very
same people notably warblogger Sullivan and the neoconservative
grouping in both parties are exhorting us to bomb
Baghdad once again, and, this time, "finish the job."
But the proposed targets are not immediate threats to US interests
so much as a laundry list of Israel's worst enemies.
it isn't Israel, per se, or its ordinary citizens who
provoke some special ire in me and I'm sure you
didn't mean to imply anything by that, now did you Ms. Jacobs?
Israel can take care of itself, and I respect them for that.
What I don't respect and, indeed, find really offensive is that country's loud and rather obnoxious lobby in this
country. Not only did they unfairly and relentlessly smear
Buchanan for opposing the Gulf war, they are working day and
night to trap us into a protracted conflict against all Islamic
peoples a world war that would be madness even to contemplate.
IRONY OR HYPOCRISY
from a commentator who challenges political correctness in
so many other areas, Ms. Jacobs' reference to my sexuality
in tandem with my politics is ironic (or is that hypocritical?).
Apparently it isn't only the Berkeley left and the Foucaultians
who still take identity
politics so seriously.
look, whaddaya say we forget about liberating the gays
and the women of Afghanistan, and start liberating ourselves
from the bounds of political correctness and tribalism in
America? I know, I know, I'm supposed to stand up for
my own tribe gays as they demand special privileges
from the government and status as an official victim group.
For me, however, loyalty to libertarian principles trumps
tribal loyalties every time. I have a far different view of
homosexuality and of many other matters than
my good friend Pat Buchanan, and yet, somehow, I came to the
conclusion that Buchanan's commitment to keeping us out of
World War III outweighed his opinion of homosexuality.
strange to think anybody would seek that kind of approval,
or self-validation, out of a presidential candidate: that
sounds more like the role of a psychiatrist. I had written
about my own homosexuality or, at least, casually referred
to it in my column over the years, though I never made it
a constant theme, like Sullivan and it was no secret to
most of the Buchananites that a gay man was up there on the
platform. A more gracious and welcoming group would be hard
to imagine, starting with Pat and his wonderful wife Shelley.
for all the alleged "homophobia" of the Buchanan
Brigades, the only times I've been dissed for being gay was
liberals like Bill Maher, the local gay left-liberal press
in San Francisco and by neocons like Jonah
Mommy has an official notice on her website: please post
no articles from Antiwar.com and now the bloggers,
whose uncrowned king, Andrew Sullivan, hails the war on terrorism
as a war of liberation for gays. If the age of irony is past,
then it has been quickly succeeded by the age of absurdity.
were many more responses from the "war-bloggers"
to last week's column than I could reasonably be expected
to answer, and not all of them were vicious attacks. Jim
Henley's remarks in particular were thoughtful and showed
an understanding of where Antiwar.com is coming from beyond
a knee-jerk reaction of "Chomskyite!," the usual
tiresome allusions to Ted
Rall or even (shudder) the dreaded Arundhati Roy.
Alas, there is no room for an extended analysis, just a note
that the attempt at a dialogue is greatly appreciated, and
we'll get to the rest sometime later in the week.
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