Russian President Vladimir Putin, the career KGB officer who has presided over the rollback of his country’s post-Communist freedoms and revived Cold War-style anti-Americanism, is an unlikely hero for American conservatives. Yet the Kremlin strongman has lately found some fans on the right who see him as a defender of Christian values — most recently, in the imbroglio over Russia’s new legal ban on gay “propaganda.” It is a sad misjudgment that does a disservice to the causes of conservatism, freedom, and religion alike.
Spokesmen for several right-wing groups including the American Family Association have praised the Russian law, which prohibits any pro-gay speech or expression that could be accessible to minors. Veteran columnist Pat Buchanan has joined the Putin cheerleading squad. And, shockingly, the usually thoughtful author Rod Dreher, who blogs for The American Conservative, has added his own “1.5 Cheers for Putin.”