Saturday, March 31, 2007

New Republic's Blog: Gay for Pay -- U.S. State Dept, IGLHRC & Paula Ettelbrick
The executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Paula Ettelbrick, is facing well-deserved scrutiny and criticism over her stewardship of the group from James Kirchick on The Plank, the blog for the New Republic.
Before I share excerpts from Kirchick's post, I want to cast some light on how Ettelbrick was able in 2006 to not only serve as the head of IGLHRC, which, given the horrors gays and lesbians face daily around the planet should take up all if not most of her waking hours, but she also found lots of time to teach not at just one top-ranked college, but two.
For the spring 2007 semester, Ettelbrick will be teaching a sexuality and the law course at NYU.
I mention her part-time professorial work because at a time when USA gays and others beyond our borders hunger for leadership from IGLHRC for calls to action to combat the abuses gays suffer worldwide, we may be asking too much of Ettelbrick, considering her teaching gigs on top of also running the world's largest gay-operated human rights organization.
Now let's get to The Plank's post:

Case in point, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (whose knee-jerk anti-Americanism has been discussed before at TNR ) has refused to publicize the State Department's annual report on human rights, specifically its pertinence to gay rights abroad. Every year, State issues such a report and makes an effort to include countries' treatment of gays as part of a broader analysis in human rights trends. The latest controversy over IGHLRC is detailed in The Bay Area Reporter, a gay newspaper in San Francisco.

One really should read the BAR story to see how convoluted Ettelbrick's ways are. She tells the paper her group works throughout the year with State to improve the annual human rights report, but when it's released, she can't be bothered directing her communications director to issue a statement about it and educate everybody about how to use the report to raise awareness of antigay abuses globally.

More from The Plank:

Ettlebrick, who seems unable to open her mouth about the horrendous treatment of gays overseas without throwing in a line about how awful her own country is, said, "Who is the U.S. to issue a report on every other government in the world on its human rights activities, especially in light of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib?" Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo (the former a disgrace and the latter hardly so) should not rise to the level of epic disasters responsible for utterly destroying America's moral authority. But they have, largely because of individuals like Ettlebrick, who suffer from a serious case of moral obtuseness.

I disagree with Kirchick's contention that Gitmo is not a blot of shame for the USA, but nonetheless, his points about IGLHRC's leader are most valid. These are his final thoughts on all this:

As a supposed gay rights activist whose job it is to monitor how her brothers and sisters are being treated around the world (especially the third world), Ettlebrick ought to stick to her job. Last month, I wrote that that IGLHRC "does not really do much." Here is further confirmation of that assertion.

Even left-wing gays are taking IGLHRC to task. Michael Petrelis, a Green Party activist in San Francisco, said, "I grieve for my community and how it doesn't demand consistent, quality gay advocacy on crucial global gay rights abuses from our paid advocates." Indeed, the job of highlighting the State Department's report, in relation to gay issues, has been left to the decidedly unpaid D.C. activist Rick Rosendall, who does a fine job here.

Two years ago, Ettelbrick lauded the State Department report and its many gay citations. She told the Washington Blade: “Anytime a government acknowledges the human rights situation of LGBT people that’s a good thing."

Yes, Paula, you are so right with that thinking and for the life of me, I can't understand why your organization prefers silence to surround the latest State report over raising your voices about the annual human rights survey, and using it to advance international respect for gays and lesbians.

We need an international gay and lesbian human rights group that is not held hostage to the twisted political machinations and ideology of a leader who is more suited to the confines of a classroom, rather than the world stage where she should be putting gay rights first, America-bashing second, on her agenda.


calugg said...

Alas, this is NOT a joke. Jeez... The New Republic? Home to various wiggy neo-cons?


Brian Miller said...

Paula Ettlebrick has been pretty good at being 100% wrong over the years. She was one of the most outspoken critics of gay marriage equality in the 1990s, insisting that few-to-zero gays wanted it -- and got blindsided by the grassroots marriage equality movement.

One of her protogés and former employees, Scott Long, is now running the show over at Human Rights Watch -- and, surprise, surprise, the anti-US rhetoric is coming from him as well.

Both IGLHRC and HRW do little other than attack grass-roots activists like Peter Tatchell, media reporters like Rex Wockner, and pointed critics such as yourself. . . while appointing themselves as arbiters of all that is good and moral in the world.

It was particularly alarming (and disgusting) to watch Long attempt to undermine British gay rights group OutRage! in its effort to emphasize anti-gay activities in Nigeria and Iran, and Long's earlier effort to attempt to halt demonstrations around the world by gay people who reacted negatively to the executions of two gay men in Iran.

Gay people around the world would be better off if Ettlebrick and her protogé simply ceased operating in gay space. It's apparent that they accept no direction from the gay community whatsoever, and place themselves and their bizarre neopolitics above actual community concerns. They should be challenged and repudiated by everyday gay people whenever they deign to speak on our behalf.

Anonymous said...

Ettlebrick proves that academics lack intelligence, even as they profess their intellectualism.

MORAL EQUIVALENCE of the U.S.'s abuses, as deplorable as they are, with MIDDLE EAST abuses, beyond "equivalence" and beyond "moral," suggests how out of touch some of "activists" are.

Perhaps she should go back to New College and get a Ph.D. in Transformative Activism (a doctorate in the idiocy of navel gazing), while the rest of us can work to rescue those "at risk" from her indifference. What do colleges teach these days? Activism based on the Rhetoric of Indeterminacy? How post-modernly clueless.