America’s extreme right has long been known for its gratuitous flag waving – but who ever thought the flag would be Russian? As the crisis in Ukraine unfolds, it is becoming crystal clear that leading social conservatives and their advocacy groups are grappling with a patriot problem. While the rest of America is actually rooting for America, these right-wing stalwarts are cheerleading for Mother Russia and are openly touting their affinity for Vladimir Putin in the middle of an international crisis.
In Sunday’s New York Times, reporter Ellen Barry wrote an illuminating article, “Foes of America in Russia Crave Rupture in Ties.” Barry pointed out that one of Russia’s most outspoken America-bashers is Vladimir I. Yakunin, president of Russia Railways and “one of Mr. Putin’s trusted friends.” A Russian Orthodox tycoon, he has overseen $7 billion worth of Olympic infrastructure initiatives, but his true passion is leveraging his fortune to turn Russia into a nationalistic, anti-Western theocracy. According to The New York Times:
“Mr. Yakunin presented plans for a Soviet-style megaproject to develop transportation and infrastructure in Siberia, a move toward ‘an economics of a spiritual type,’ he said, that would insulate Russia from the West’s alien values.
He compared the project to monumental endeavors from the past: the adoption of Christianity in ancient Rus; the conquest of Siberia; electrification of the Soviet Union; the Soviet space program; and the Olympics in Sochi.”
Yakunin’s dangerous vision is shared by the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group. Since 2010, WCF has worked closely with Russian organizations to pass 13 new anti-gay laws, the most infamous being the one that prohibits “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” This law, which shreds free-speech protections, has created “open season” on the LGBT community, with politicians, the police, and neo-Nazi vigilante groups carrying out violence and persecution. When Mother Jones magazine writer Hannah Levintova asked WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs if his organization contributed to these draconian laws, he chuckled and replied, “Yes, I think that is accurate.”
While Yakunin and his wife Natalia, who leads the Sanctity of Motherhood group, are working to recreate a Soviet-like state – though one infused with religion, the billionaire is generously underwriting the WCF and helped pay for its 2011 Moscow Demographic Summit. Despite the illegal Russian takeover of Crimea, the World Congress of Families is still planning its 5,000-person Moscow conference in September, some of which will be staged inside the Kremlin. Yakunin is on the WCF’s 2014 Moscow planning committee for this huge event – which is the equivalent of the Sochi Olympics for theocrats.
Yakunin’s fortune is well spent. The WCF’s leaders are gladly serving as American apologists for their Russian masters, enthusiastically shilling at the expense of the free world. By doing so, the group is cynically selling out American interests for cold hard Russian cash and propping up Russia’s expanding police state.
In a shameful op-ed published online in American Thinker, WCF spokesperson Don Feder actually sided with the Russians in his piece, “Putin Doesn’t Threaten Our National Security, Obama Does.” According to Feder’s tendentious and bizarre interpretation of the Ukrainian conflict:
“Putin is a power player who cares more about Russia’s national interests, and Russian minorities in his near abroad, than in that mythical force known as world opinion. Would that [SIC] America had a president who cared more about our interests than in promoting globalism and the left’s social agenda.
When Reagan was president, the expression pro-Western meant something. It meant pro-representative government, pro-human rights and pro-Western (Judeo-Christian) values.
Today, it means a willingness to accept same-sex ‘marriage,’ abortion on demand, an anti-religion ethos – the agenda of the EU’s cultural commissars — and the economic dictates of the Brussels bureaucracy.”
Additionally, Duma member Elena Mizulina is one of the key Russians sanctioned this week by the United States for her alleged role in the Crimean invasion. She is also Russia’s most homophobic lawmaker. In this capacity, she met with WCF’s Jacobs in Moscow at least three times and is a frequent attendee at WCF events, according to Mother Jones. Another American, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage and WCF member met with Mizulina in Moscow about legislation to ban gay-adoptions.
Prominent American WCF members, such as Focus on the Family, Americans United for Life, and The Alliance Defense Fund, must choose their loyalties. Concerned Women for America was the first WCF member to blink by pulling out of the Kremlin conference and saying that they “don’t want to appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin.”
Will the other American WCF groups follow, or will they continue to wave the Russian flag, as the rest of the world prepares to confront the totalitarian Russian bear?