Are Russians more anti-American or homophobic? The Apple CEO incident
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Photo Credit: Screen shot from YouTube

A Russian business organization takes down a memorial to Apple founder Steve Jobs after the company’s current CEO, Tim Cook, comes out as gay. But was this just about homophobia?

A St. Petersburg memorial to Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs was dismantled on Friday, one day after current Apple CEO Tim Cook announced he was gay.

The interactive monument was 2 meters tall and in the shape of an iPhone. The screen featured highlights and quotes from Jobs’ life, and had been installed near a university in January 2013 by a Russian group of companies called ZEFS, according to Reuters.

While most media outlets reported that ZEFS took down the monument because Cook is gay, the organization voiced more than one grievance with the U.S.-based tech giant.

“After Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly called for sodomy, the monument was taken down to abide to the Russian federal law protecting children from information promoting denial of traditional family values,” ZEFS said in a statement.

The law, introduced in June 2013, outlaws the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships among young people. ZEFS said the memorial was in a location where minors could see it.

Cook, who succeeded Steve Jobs after his death in 2011, came out of the closet for the first time on Thursday in an article in Bloomberg Businessweek.

“Let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” he wrote.

NSA cooperation does not create trust

But Cook’s homosexuality alone is not what had ZEFS stewing. In its statement, the organization’s leader Maksim Dolgopolov cited Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive NSA surveillance as part of the reason for dismantling the Apple monument. Dolgopolov said that Jobs had been a hero to Russians when the monument was erected, but that was before revelations that Apple had cooperated with the U.S. National Security Agency in conducting massive surveillance against private citizens.

In fact, anti-Americanism is rife in Russia. While 24 percent of the world’s population, according to a recent Win/Gallup poll, believes the United States is the “greatest threat to world peace,” a whopping 54 percent of Russians think so. In contrast, according to the same poll, only 2 percent of Americans think Russia is a threat to global peace.

However, a separate Pew poll on attitudes towards morality revealed that 72 percent of Russians think homosexuality is unacceptable.

So why did Russians pull down the Steve Jobs monument? Was it homophobia or anti-Americanism?

Probably both.

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Simona Weinglass

About Simona Weinglass


I’m an old-school journalist who recently decided to pivot into high-tech. I work in high-tech marketing as well as print and broadcast media covering politics, business culture and everything in between.

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