Tony award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein slammed MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Wednesday over the way “All In with Chris Hayes” dismissed proposed boycotts of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia over the country’s draconian anti-LGBT laws that ban “gay propaganda.” Fierstein said that to award Russia the prestige and profit of hosting the games is not appropriate and that “when evil shows its face, you have to answer.”
Fierstein was responding to a segment from Tuesday night’s “All In” called “Why boycotting the Olympics won’t help Russian gays” in which Olympic tennis gold medalist Gigi Fernandez and New Republic writer Julia Ioffe both said that to boycott the Olympics would be a waste of time and effort.
Fernandez said, “I’ve never been a proponent of mixing politics with sports. There are so many athletes that this is their one moment. Many athletes were really hurt in 1980 when we boycotted Russia. I think it sends the wrong message. It hurts the wrong people. I’m not a proponent of it.”
LGBT activist Richard Socarides said that the question on the table is one of people’s safety. He said that the games should be moved, that the IOC should stick to its charter of not having games in nations that discriminate openly, an idea that Hayes seemed to find ridiculous, laughingly calling that iteration “a cut-rate version” of the games.
Ioffe opined that she has lived in Russia and that Russians believe that homosexuality comes from the West. Boycotts and protests, she said, will just be seen by Russians as Western histrionics. “If anything,” she said, “it might make it worse” on Russia’s LGBT population.
“It reminds me a little bit of the U.S. embargo of Cuba,” Hayes said, positing that the U.S. policy toward that country just gave Fidel Castro more fuel for anti-U.S. propaganda.
Fierstein wrote an angry Facebook post, published Wednesday, that took Hayes and his show to task.
“I watched the Chris Hayes show last night with open mouth. One would swear the entire Russian controversy was about the stupid Olympics. I wondered if there is any way to reach a white male Christian heterosexual and let them know what it’s like to live in fear of your safety. I wonder if he’d be so off-topic if our elected officials threatened to pass a law that would remove his baby from his home. Might that wake these folks up? Because that’s what’s happening to us, Mr Hayes,” wrote the Tony award-winning actor and playwright.
Fierstein told Hayes on his show Wednesday, “What’s going on in Russia is absolutely frightening. Even in your intro just now you talked about one law. There are three laws that have already come out, one saying that gay couples or singles may not adopt all. The other says that nobody in any country that allows gay marriage can adopt out of Russia. The third is the propaganda. The fourth law which was not passed which is rumored by the press to have been ready to be passed was one that said that children would be removed from gay and lesbian households.”
Hayes protested, “There are horrible laws discriminating against LGBT folks everywhere in the world.”
“You remember when the AIDS crisis first hit,” Fierstein said, “I would have people say to me, why are we spending so much energy on AIDS, there’s cancer too? One doesn’t negate the other.”
Fierstein went on to offer Hayes a history lesson.
“You must fight injustice wherever that injustice is,” he said. “You cannot just ignore evil. When evil shows its face you have to answer. When you don’t answer, look what happens. You were talking about Hitler, so we went to the Olympics in Germany, right? Yes, they took down the anti-Jewish posters for two weeks, and what happened? Owens won a gold medal and then 6 million Jews were killed.”
Watch the interview with Fierstein, embedded below via MSNBC: