On New Year's Eve a man walked into a gay bar in Seattle and tried to set fire to the place.
First the unnamed intruder doused the entrance in gasoline, then he set the carpeting aflame, threatening the lives of over 750 people in the already packed club.
It's a reminder that although there are, I suppose, many principled opponents of gay equality, there have always been a sizable number who are prepared to make their protest lethally.
After a banner year for gay rights in America perhaps this deluded individual wanted to remind the nation and the world of the murderous contempt that gay people are still held in by so many from coast to coast.
If things are nevertheless brightening on the legal front for America's gay community – and they are – it's well to remember how much the forces of intolerance and hatred are rallying elsewhere.
In Russia, which will shortly host the Sochi Winter Olympics, the passing of the recent 'Gay Propaganda Law' caused international outrage, emboldening the country's growing Neo-Nazi movement to take the law into their own hands.
Playing into the myth that the 'purity' of the nation is under attack from gays and immigrants – a ploy that is being pursued by the far right internationally – vigilante gangs have taken to hunting, torturing and even murdering unsuspecting gay people and the authorities have for the most part turned a blind eye.
Images of gangs terrorizing lone and completely defenseless young men have nauseated the world. Responding to the new law and the abuses it has inspired, this week the gay community found a prominent if unlikely defender: conservative commentator Glenn Beck.
Outraged by the recent comments by famous Russian actor and ex-Orthodox priest Ivan Okhlobystin that he would 'like to put gays alive into an oven' Beck told CNN he would stand with LGBT advocacy group GLAAD in opposition to the Russian law.
'Do you know what happened last week in Russia?' Beck asked. 'One of their biggest stars on television said that homosexuals should be put into the ovens alive. I didn’t think you could make the Holocaust worse but he’s like 'Why the gas chamber? That seems a little too humane. Let’s put them alive in the ovens.'
Beck continued: 'I said on the air this week, I will stand with GLAAD. I will stand with anybody who will stand up and say that’s crazy. That’s dangerous. That’s hetero-fascism. That’s what that is. And we’re talking about "Duck Dynasty." Really? Really?'
GLAAD has been a moving target for the American far right for decades, so this statement of solidarity has convulsed Tea Party voters and Beck's own base. It remains to be seen if he will attempt to walk it back, but for the moment he has understood what many commentators have been claiming: there's an aura of Munich in 1936 about the forthcoming Games.
Scapegoating minorities to shore up your own hold on power has been a tactic employed by political and religious leaders for millennia. It never leads to anything good. We have reason to dread to the forthcoming Games and their aftermath. Even Glenn Beck can see that now.
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