Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bringing Hate To Paradise: Will Bali Suffer From The Wrath of NOM?

Scott Lively, move over, there's a new international homophobia-spreader in town: the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has attempted to go international with its DumpStarbucks campaign by targeting countries where homophobia is already established, but need a little push in the form of anti-Western sentiments. 
" we go international, expanding campaigns into Mandarin, Arabic, Turkish, Spanish, and Bahala (one of the chief languages of Indonesia) online ads will also start running in Egypt, Beijing, Hong Kong, the Yunnan region of China, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait."

The campaign may be an easy sell in countries where homosexuality is criminalized, but think of this: the "overspill" into countries that are gay friendly, like Bali. As part of the campaign to boycott Starbucks in Indonesia, NOM will be affecting what some people consider the closest thing we on earth have to "paradise."

And Bali is, by all accounts, very gay friendly.

Joe Jervis (Joe.My.God) is rightfully indignant at the thought of NOM's campaign targeting homophobic countries:
In what may be their single-most outrageous and repulsive move yet, NOM is attempting to whip up anti-gay fervor by expanding their Starbucks boycott into nations that put homosexuals to death or have other legal punishments for merely being gay.

The tactic certainly compliments their "drive-a-wedge" strategy. But it's necessary to look beyond the skulduggery of using already anti-gay societies and see what effects it might have on the peripheral societies such as Bali. Like it or not, Bali is intrinsically tied to Indonesia. And Indonesia is intrinsically tied to Bali's tourism and finances. Starbucks has dozens of franchises on the tiny island.

One glitch in a push by NOM in Bali:  92% of its religious community follows Balinese Hinduism with only about 5% following Islam and 2% following Christianity. NOM, of course, wishes that it was 92% Right Wing Christian or 92% Muslim.*

Sorry, NOM, But Bali Ain't Uganda

Scott Lively and Lou Engle had success in exporting homophobia to Africa: third world countries with little education were easily led by evangelicals who regaled them with stories and false statistics of the "evil homosexual lifestyle." It is common knowledge that both had a great deal of influence with the formation of Uganda's infamous "kill the gays" bill.** The First Lady of Uganda, Madam Mouseveni, a born-again Christian, welcomed them as well as other evangelicals in order to bolster the country's emerging Right Wing Christianity. Of course, calling for a boycott of Starbucks is not the same as pushing for capital punishment for gays. 

But it's a start. 

NOM's problem with Bali, however,  lies not only in a different religion, but a different mindset - and more advanced education. As the richest province in Indonesia's archipelago, it has a level of sophistication in art, literature and sciences that cannot be matched, even in Jakarta. In other words, it's "world class," not "third world class." Paradise has standards to uphold. 

So the DumpStarbucks campaign will tank in Paradise. But that is not to say that we should think it will not be successful in any of the other supremely homophobic countries on NOM's list, the irony being that most of the countries are Muslim.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

* Same thing - at least in terms of homophobia
**As did Rick Warren before the awarding Uganda the sobriquet of "Purpose Driven Nation." Warren's BBF in Uganda was Martin Ssempe, the "eat da poo poo" pastor (so called because he has claimed that homosexuals ingest feces on a regular basis).