22 May 2009 Outrage of the Day: Gay Pride in the Green Zone
In Al Kamen’s May 22 Washington Post column, he reports the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will be holding it’s first-ever “Gay Pride Theme Party” at a Green Zone pub called Baghdaddy’s on May 29.
Embassy staff, invited through what Kamen said was an “All Hands Alerts” e-mail, are encouraged to dress in drag and/or as their favorite gay icon. Suggestions on the poster include Cher, Elton John and the recently-deceased Bea Arthur.
It’s not the event itself that is outrageous, but where it is being allowed. Baghdad.
Having a high-profile homosexual event in the capital of an Islamic country calls the diplomatic tact of the Obama Administration – already marred by inappropriate gifts to heads of state and embarrassing mistakes in translation – into question yet again.
This is suprising on one hand because Islamic law and homosexuality are at odds with one another. It’s surprising on the other hand because the other things that offend Muslims are the subject of harsh restrictions and punishments. For example:
* For soldiers fighting the war on terrorism, General Order No. 1 from Central Command prohibits “proselytizing of any faith, religion or practice.” When Al Jazeera ran footage from a documentary showing some soldiers in Afghanistan wanting to give out copies of the New Testament printed in the Dari and Pashto languages, officials said the Bibles shown in the footage were collected by military chaplins and later destroyed – allegedly burned – to prevent their distribution.
* People wishing to send things to American servicemembers stationed in the Islamic world are warned that “Host countries mostly prohibit the entry of alcoholic beverages of any kind, narcotics, munitions, pork and pork by-products, pornography and material contrary to the Islamic religion.”
* A Marine was pulled from duty in 2008 when he was found to be handing out Christian-themed coins to civilians in Iraq.
* Women reporters in the Middle East have always faced restrictions because of their gender (remember when Ashleigh Banfield cut her hair and dyed it brunette to report from Afghanistan?). The Obama Administration is no different in handling this issue. For his recent tour of Europe and the Middle East, women reporters covering Obama were told to not wear nail polish, to wear closed-toe shoes and not bare their shoulders, among other things.
But a gay pride party is OK? Expect this to provide yet another lesson for the Obama team about putting the prerogatives of their special-interest supporters above traditional business practices.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.