Why are U.S. taxpayers funding homophobia in Uganda?

Ugandans read a copy of the Red Pepper newspaper in Kampala on Tuesday. It published a list of what it called the country's "200 top" homosexuals, outing some Ugandans who previously had not identified themselves as gay, one day after President Yoweri Museveni enacted a harsh anti-gay law.
(Rebecca Vassie / Associated Press)

So, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni doesn’t like gays. In fact, he thinks they’re “disgusting.” Oh, and he doesn’t think much of the West either. And he says Uganda would be just fine without Western aid.

So why haven’t we halted — in a New York minute — the $450 million a year or so in foreign aid we give this clown and his country?

On Monday, Museveni signed a harsh anti-gay bill into law that basically declares open season on homosexuals in Uganda. But not content to simply spout nonsense about gays, he also blasted Western “cultural imperialism” and Western aid, which he said was a problem itself for Uganda. (You can read the speech here, if you have the stomach.) And in case you are keeping count, that would be $2 billion a year in “problem” foreign aid. Much of which has apparently found its way — I know, knock you over with a feather — into the pockets of many government officials.

A number of countries have already called Museveni’s bluff and suspended aid: Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands. (Though they may just redirect the money from the government to non-governmental organizations.)


But the U.S., according to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, is studying its options. Apparently, Uganda helps us fight rebels in Somalia and other important stuff.

OK, I admit it, I am no diplomat. But how’s this for a phone call Mr. Secretary could make to Mr. Nasty Ugandan President: You want to be a backward nation? Then do it on your own dime, not Uncle Sam’s.

Sure, the world’s an ugly place. We give money to a lot of lowlifes. It’s called realpolitik. We’ve done it for a long time; we’ll keep doing it. In fact, if you’re curious, go to the website and roll your cursor over the map of Africa; it’ll show you just how many of your hard-earned tax dollars go to the countries there. (Hint: It’s a lot.)

So pardon me for being just a little peevish, but I don’t think we have to take this anymore. We need to say to heck with some minor strategic interest or another, to heck with access to some semi-valuable resource, and wash our hands of a bad guy. When some two-bit despot in some faraway land does something truly nasty, and then tries to thumb his nose at us — well, I would say it is time to go all “Network” on him: “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore!”


True, it may not be very diplomatic.

But it’s bad enough having to read about a brutal and ignorant leader playing to a brutal and ignorant populace with a brutal and ignorant law.

I shouldn’t have to help pay for it all too.



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