the national interest

Obama Gay Panic Trolling, International Comparison Edition

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rides a horse during his vacation outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia on August 3, 2009.
I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay. Photo: ALEXEY DRUZHININ/Ria Novosti/AFP/Getty Images

This week, President Obama, now fully in second-term YOLO mode, trolled two sets of opponents in related ways. The first was announcing that he would stay away from the Olympic Games in Russia, which is in the midst of a large-scale persecution campaign against gays, and send a delegation headed by openly gay former tennis star Billie Jean King. The second was an Obamacare promotion tweet with an image of young man whose very appearance sends American conservatives into paroxysms of rage.

Pajama boy,” as he came to be known, is the kind of person who belongs to the Queer Students Association and enjoys “dialogue” on the “evils of heteronormativity,” according to National Review’s Charles C. Cooke. He is “an insufferable man-child,” notes Cooke’s editor, Rich Lowry. A wide range of conservatives likewise reacted to the single image with disgust and anger and a surprising capacity to form judgements about a person based solely on a single image.

Now, few conservatives actually defend the sort of repressive anti-gay laws that Putin is carrying out. On the other hand, Putin does seem to be taking a much more flagrant provocation with considerably more restraint.

Obama Gay Panic Trolling, Comparison Edition