So the asshat of the week is none other than Nobel Peace prize winner Lech Walesa, who suggested that gay lawmakers in Poland shouldn’t be welcomed, but if elected, they should be seated “behind a wall.” He also concluded that homosexuals need “medical treatment” and then shuddered at the thought of everyone being gay because then “we wouldn’t have any descendants.”
Look, it’s obvious that Nobel Peace prize winners aren’t always the most benevolent and peaceful of figures, despite the award’s title, I mean Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat are past recipients. So I’m not hanging too much importance on the prize when addressing Walesa, who is arguably a deserving laureate for his union work with Solidarity in Soviet-ruled Poland.
What’s interesting is just how irrelevant Walesa is at this point – a lumbering dinosaur of the 80s, crawling to the headlines, gasping for breath. It reminded me of Ronald Reagan’s funeral: Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Reagan, and Walesa were all there – these were titans in the 80s, basically superheroes. But at the time in 2004 (almost a decade ago), there were old, crumbling shells of their former oversized selves. No longer important and no longer part of the national dialogue.
Age and health have kept Thatcher and Mrs. Reagan out of the spotlight for the most part, but Walesa is still able-bodied enough and apparently still-delusional enough to think that people take his statements seriously.
So, when I look at Walesa, a man who accomplished much, and made a large impact on the world, I look at his latest pronouncements with sadness – not because he hurt my feelings, but because it’s so patently obvious just how pathetic and unimportant the guy became. It’s sad. I think back to Geraldine Ferraro who made history by being the first woman nominated on a major party ticket, when she ran for vice president in 1984; Some 24 years later, she briefly roared onto the headlines when she dismissed Barack Obama’s electorial achievements to his race – again, sad because Ferraro was such an important figure, but reduced to a bit of trivia by that time.
Walesa’s stone aged opinions aren’t rare, nor are they his alone – lots of people in Poland still view homosexuality through very cracked, warped and backward glasses. But as a public figure, he should behave with a little more decorum and, well, I hate to say this – intelligence. After all, if he’s interested in continuing his lucrative career as a professional statesman, he can’t go around hating on a significant, if still small, population of the world. Otherwise, his bigotry threatens to overshadow his considerable achievements.
[Update: March 6, 2013 12.15pm] – In an interview Walesa is defiant about his statement about gay politicians. He insists that what he said wasn’t offensive and according to CNN, Wales reasoned, “All I said (was) that minorities, which I respect, should not have the right to impose their views on the majority. I think most of Poland is behind me.”
Yeah – he went there….