Despite the occasional but fervent rantings of idiotarians like Matt Barber, gays in the United States generally do not seem to realize how good they have it.
While Bush was president, an observation like that would have qualified as a gay Uncle-Tomism. But now that we have a “progressive” president who has made it clear he’s actually less progressive than Dick Cheney on this issue, gays are just supposed to shut up and follow the party line. No doubt “progressive” Woodrow Wilson felt the same way about blacks who had made gains under Theodore Roosevelt only to find themselves abruptly demoted to official second class citizenship. This analogy is not made to compare gays to blacks so much as to illustrate that “progressive” is not always what it seems.
The point is that American gays — whether they shut up and follow the party line or not — tend to forget that what is happening to gays in a country that we liberated with American blood makes disputes over gay marriage and hate crime laws look almost frivolous by comparison.
M. Simon sent me a link to a Foreign Policy piece titled “Iraq’s New Surge: Gay Killings” that documents that the problem of Islamist anti-gay death squads is getting worse:

As the world hails Iraq’s supposed return to normality, the country’s militias — the same ones that spent years waging a sectarian civil war — have found a new, less apparent target: men suspected of being gay. The systematic killings, which began earlier this year, reveal the cracks behind Iraq’s fragile calm. Iraq’s leaders may talk of security and democracy from behind barbed wire in the Green Zone, but the surge of murders against gay men is a stark sign of how far Iraqi society still has to go.
During a 10-day Human Rights Watch research trip to Iraq in April, we heard harrowing stories of torture, abductions, kidnappings, extortion, and murder. We listened to dozens of men who had faced violence at the hands of armed militias, attacked by youths with guns for violating the unwritten codes of Iraqi masculinity. A number of signs might implicate one as being not “manly” enough, from neighborhood gossip that a man is gay to looking somehow effeminate or foreign in the wrong people’s eyes: wearing one’s hair too long or one’s jeans too tight, for example. There is no count available for the number of deaths since the killings began earlier this year, but one U.N. worker told us that the victims could number in the hundreds.
Not a single murder has been adequately investigated, and not a single murderer has been arrested. Infiltrated by militias and fearing for their reputations if they defend “immorality,” government officials turn a blind eye.
Most survivors pointed to Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia as the main culprit in the attacks.

It appears that al-Sadr is using this form of “morality” enforcement to make a comeback.
Aside from his usual pattern of blaming Bush, what precisely does President Obama plan to do about it?
Withdraw?
As to the question of who the hell cares, as I told Simon I’ve been reading about this issue at Andrew Sullivan’s blog for some time. It’s not new. But in general no one says anything. Right now the left wants to pretend Iraq no longer exists, and the Obama administration would like to pretend gays don’t exist.
And while Andrew Sullivan is utterly sincere and has every right to be outraged, the fact is that he doesn’t exactly inspire conservatives to jump out of their armchairs and into the streets — over the plight of Iraqi gays or anything else. (I don’t think the left trusts him much either — a classic lesson on the burning of bridges.)
What I find especially tragic and ironic is that gays do seem to have been better off under Saddam Hussein:

Saif, one of the older residents at an Iraqi LGBT house, recalls Saddam’s repressive but secular regime wistfully. “Those were the most beautiful days of our lives,” he says. “The fall [of Saddam] was the worst thing to happen.”

This hardly means that Saddam Hussein was gay-friendly, or cared in the slightest about them. However, he was a ruthless, secular, Machiavellian to the core, as well as an opportunistic thug who cared only about maintaining power by any means necessary. Gay Iraqis posed far less of a threat to his power than their religious enemies, and from a purely Machiavellian perspective it would have been the height of folly for al-Sadr’s Islamist militias to have dared to engage in gay killings while Saddam was in power. Not because Saddam Hussein cared about gays, but because it would have exposed his enemies’ position, and made them easier to locate.
To understand the man’s thinking (as well as that of the Mahdi), you have to think like a psychopath, and not a Western psychopath, but a Mideastern one. I think it’s important to remember that Mideastern attitudes towards gays would be considered psychopathic by Western standards:

Persecution of gays will stop only if Iraqis can abandon centuries-old prejudices. They would have to acknowledge that human rights don’t cover only the humans they like. Insisting that gays are just a few undesirable perverts who “should be killed”–as one Iraqi who works in journalism put it–encourages an atmosphere of impunity no matter the offense. Killing gays becomes “honorable.” And raping them is OK because it isn’t considered a homosexual act–only being penetrated or providing oral sex is.

This mindset is incomprehensible to most Americans, whether conservative or liberal. Just does not compute.
But the fact is, we went in and liberated a place where attitudes like that prevail, and with Saddam gone, a power vacuum was created. The real tragedy here is that it’s probably accurate to say that the gay killing spree is one of those unforeseen consequences of liberation. The Mahdi Army, it seems, simply cannot handle seeing Iraqi gays on YouTube:

A video clip showing men dancing with each other at a party in Baghdad in the summer of 2008 is thought to have triggered this string of kidnappings, rapes, and murders. Thousands of people have seen it on the Internet and on their cell phones. Islamic religious leaders began ranting about the growing presence of a “third sex” which American soldiers were said to have brought in with them. The followers of radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, in particular, felt the need to take action aimed at restoring “religious morals.” A video clip showing men dancing with each other at a party in Baghdad in the summer of 2008 is thought to have triggered this string of kidnappings, rapes, and murders. Thousands of people have seen it on the Internet and on their cell phones. Islamic religious leaders began ranting about the growing presence of a “third sex” which American soldiers were said to have brought in with them. The followers of radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, in particular, felt the need to take action aimed at restoring “religious morals.”

An American who describes himsself as a “Black, Gay, Father, Vegetarian, Buddhist, Liberal” (meaning he would doubtless be a candidate for execution in Iraq) writes a blog called The Republic of T. , and on 9/11 he remembered the gay victims of 9/11, and asked an especially poignant question about murdered gay Iraqis:

Should these men count among 9/11’s gay victims, after the fact, given that the killings might not be happening had we not invaded?

As to the details of the killings, they are absolutely appalling:

In Baghdad a new series of murders began early this year, perpetrated against men suspected of being gay. Often they are raped, their genitals cut off, and their anuses sealed with glue. Their bodies are left at landfills or dumped in the streets. The non-profit organization Human Rights Watch, which has documented many of these crimes, has spoken of a systematic campaign of violence involving hundreds of murders.

More examples here:

Two gay men were found elsewhere in Sadr City, alive but bearing the scars of severe torture. They were beaten, their chests showed signs of cigarette burns, and when police found them they were rushed to the hospital. They had been sodomized with iron bars, sources said. Other men said they had had their chests slashed and their nipples cut off.

More chilling accounts here. And here (“hospitals and morgues have received dozens of mutilated bodies, living and dead”). And here (“They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.”)
Meanwhile, Amy Goodman and the left-wing Pacifica Radio are studiously ignoring the plight of Iraqi gays. Might make ordinary compassionate Americans hesitant to support the pullout the left has long wanted, mightn’t it?
Better for the Narrative if we minimize questions like this:

There are many reasons to ask why we are still in Iraq, but one that hasn’t gotten much press is the torture and killing of gays.

I’m not saying the issue isn’t being discussed at all, because it is. The San Francisco Chronicle for example, was unable to ignore it. But in general, to overcome the power of what should probably be called the “Just Shut Up About Iraq Narrative,” you have to use the power of the Internet to ferret out most of the sites like these that do.
What is happening to Iraqi gays is a horrible situation, and I’m sorry, but saying it’s not our problem just doesn’t cut it. Too many Americans died. I might not be able to do much about it, but I’m not going to look the other way.
Certainly, not shutting up is the least I can do.