The forces of reaction have stepped up their propaganda game in the last few decades. As Kathleen M. Fallon, Anna-Liisa Aunio, & Jessica Kim demonstrate—in “Decoupling International Agreements from Domestic Policy: The State and Soft Repression,” Human Rights Quarterly 40 (2018)—repressive governments have become especially adept at using the post-colonial language of anti-globalization to silence homegrown activists.

If an organization like The Russian LGBT Network condemns the Putin government’s draconian repression of gays and lesbians today, Russian conservatives go on RT tomorrow and argue that the whole idea of LGBTQ rights is a foreign import, homosexuality is unRussian, and LGBTQ activists are little more than tools of hostile foreign powers, meddling NGOs, and nefarious billionaires like George Soros.

Likewise, if women’s groups in Ghana try to pass domestic violence legislation, Ghanaian conservatives re-frame “the law as a foreign import and a threat to Ghanaian nationalism and families.”¹

Unlike, say, the Amish or the Hutterities, the antimodernism these so-called traditionalists embrace is remarkably self-serving and selective. They have no problem with cutting-edge weaponry, sophisticated surveillance technology, cell phones, helicopters, internet porn, Swiss bank accounts, social media, American money, and the international banking system—but when it comes to the rights of women and gays, well, that’s where they draw the line!

They are not unlike ISIS in this respect, an organization whose hypocrisy seems to know no bounds. After forcing hundreds of kidnapped Yazidi girls into sex slavery in the name of Islamic tradition, ISIS forced the very same girls to take birth control pills daily so they wouldn’t get pregnant. Thus wedding the barbarism of the medieval Middle East with the convenience of the twenty-first-century West.

When I think about what I know about the rank hypocrisy which so often passes for traditionalism in the twenty-first century, I think about a member of ISIS’s religious police coming home after a long day of whipping and beheading, eating a microwaved dinner, checking his email, turning off his iPhone, praying to an Iron Age deity, and thinking himself a traditionalist as he rapes a twelve-year-old girl on birth control.

—John Faithful Hamer

1. Kathleen M. Fallon, Anna-Liisa Aunio, & Jessica Kim, “Decoupling International Agreements from Domestic Policy: The State and Soft Repression,” Human Rights Quarterly 40 (2018).