December 5, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Obama: Russia wins if U.S. adopts value to ‘discriminate against people’

President Obama at final news briefing in 2016. (Screenshot courtesy White House)
President Obama at final news briefing in 2016. (Screenshot courtesy White House)

BY CHRIS JOHNSON  |  Amid growing revelations that Russia engaged in cyberattacks on the United States to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump, President Obama said Russia can only succeed in changing America if the nation adopts values like believing it’s OK to “discriminate against people because of their faith or what they look like.”

Obama made the remarks Friday during his final news conference of 2016 when asked if he would declassify intelligence briefings revealing Russia’s role in hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta — as well as information on whether Vladimir Putin himself was responsible for directing it.

“They can impact us if we abandon our values,” Obama said. “Mr. Putin can weaken us just like he’s trying to weaken Europe if we start buying into notions that it’s OK to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people because of their faith or what they look like.”

Although Obama didn’t explicitly mention anti-LGBT discrimination, such persecution is among the human rights violations in Russia. The State Department’s 2015 report on Human Rights Practices found “continuing violence against LGBTI individuals” and LGBT activists who reported “threats and attacks in public” to which the police often won’t respond.

In 2013, Russia enacted a notoriously anti-gay law criminalizing the “propaganda” of non-traditional sexual relations to minors, which effectively limits the rights of free expression to advocate for LGBT people.

Obama made an implicit comparison between Putin and Trump. The president-elect campaigned on criticizing the media as “dishonest,” a pledge to ban Muslims from entering the United States and demonizing Mexicans as criminals and rapists.

But Obama also cautioned against placing too much weight on the impact of Russia on the election, saying the real problem in the United States is a “hyper-partisan” political culture.

“The Russians can’t change us or significantly weaken us,” Obama said. “They are a smaller country, they are a weaker country, their economy doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms. They don’t innovate.”

Citing a poll by the Economist and YouGov finding a growing number of Republicans, now 37 percent, approve of Putin, Obama quipped, “Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.”

“And how did that happen?” Obama added. “It happened in part because for too long, everything that happens in this town, everything that’s said is seen through the lens of does this help or hurt us relative to Democrats or relative to President Obama. And unless that changes, we’re going to continue to be vulnerable to foreign influence because we’ve lost track of what it is that we’re about and what we stand for.”

In the aftermath of an NBC News report that Putin himself was responsible for directing the cyberattacks, Obama initially declined to say whether the order came from Putin. Pressed on the issue, Obama conceded, “Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin.”

“This is a pretty hierarchical operation,” Obama said. “Last I checked, there’s not a lot of debate and democratic deliberation, particularly when it comes to policies directed at the United States. We have said and I will confirm that this happened at the highest levels of the Russian government and I will let you make that determination as to whether there are high-level Russian officials who go off rogue and decide to tamper with the U.S. election process without Vladimir Putin knowing about it.”

On the issue of whether cyberattacks directly influenced the vote counts on Election Day in favor of Donald Trump, Obama said “we feel confident that that didn’t occur and that the votes were cast and they were counted.”

Related Posts

WeHo’s 31st Annual Toy & Food Drive

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station are partnering to help give back to those in...

WeHo Wins ‘Most Business-Friendly City Award’ from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The City of West Hollywood has been awarded the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s 2021 Most Business-Friendly City Award....

County Board Of Supervisors Approves $3.6 Million To Serve LGBTQ Foster Youth

November 16, 2021

November 16, 2021

L.A County Board or Supervisors has passed a supplemental budget to its fiscal year 2021-2022, which includes an allocation of...

LGBTQ Car Show In Long Beach

October 26, 2021

October 26, 2021

Great Autos car club got a chance to show off its Rainbow Car Show to the Marina Pacifica parking lot...

LA County Votes To Increase Services For LGBTQ Jail Populations

October 26, 2021

October 26, 2021

On Tuesday, Oct. 19 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to expand mental health treatment and other...

New Senior Housing From LA LGBT Center’s Ariadne Getty Foundation

October 26, 2021

October 26, 2021

The LA LGBT Center has completed construction of a new senior housing complex next-door to its Anita May Rosenstein Campus...

WeHo Announces “Hybrid” City Council Meetings

October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

The City of West Hollywood will begin ‘hybrid’ in-person and teleconference city council meetings.  Starting on Monday, October 18th the...

Los Angeles LGBT Center Opens New Facility In South Los Angeles

October 15, 2021

October 15, 2021

Los Angeles LGBT Center has opened a new facility in South Los Angeles to serve the health needs of LGBT...

OUT On The Mountain At Six Flags Magic Mountian

September 29, 2021

September 29, 2021

Six Flags Magic Mountain celebrated LGBTQ Pride with its annual OUT on the Mountain event on Friday, September 17th.  Out...

Caitlyn Jenner Expresses Outrage After California Recall Vote

September 29, 2021

September 29, 2021

Republican candidate Caitlyn Jenner received only one percent of the California recall vote.  The 2021 California gubernatorial recall election was...

WeHo’s New Mayor And Mayor Pro Tem Sworn In

September 28, 2021

September 28, 2021

The City of West Hollywood has sworn in its new Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore.  Lauren Meister was sworn in...

Elvira Shocks Fans By Coming Out Of The Closet

September 28, 2021

September 28, 2021

Just in time for Halloween, the spook queen herself, Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a. Elvira, has come out of the closet.  In...

Britney Spears Announces Engagement

September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021

Britney Spears and boyfriend Sam Asghari have announced their engagement.  Asghari’s talent manager Brandon Cohen of BAC Talent confirmed in...

MS-13’s Stronghold On MacArthur Park And Transphobia

September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021

MS-13, a vicious street gang, continues its stronghold on MacArthur Park making it unsafe for many who visit but specifically...

California State To Outlaw “Stealthing”

September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021

California could soon become the first state to outlaw “stealthing”, the vile practice of removing a condom during sex without...