By Becky Hogan
Members of Congress and pundits have been weighing in on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New York Times op-ed that argued for diplomatic negotiations with Syria and criticized U.S. exceptionalism–but no one has drawn as much response for her rebuttal to Putin as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Putin’s letter ended by saying that it was the dangerous for the United States to think of itself as exceptional and that all people are created equal: “We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
But the reality is that all are not equal in Russia.
The country has faced international criticism for enacting a law this year that bans the distribution of “propaganda” promoting LGBT rights. Under the statute, it is a criminal act to hold public events promoting gay rights and public displays of affection by same-sex couples.
And the issue of gay rights in Russia has raised concern recently as the country prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The International Olympic Committee has said the law won’t apply to athletes or spectators at the games.
Pelosi’s tweet calling out Putin’s hypocrisy has been retweeted over 3,000 times and she’s seen the largest daily gain of Twitter followers Thursday of any day over the past month.
Facebook was also buzzing about the California congresswoman. She garnered over 10,742 Facebook Talked Abouts on the day of her response to Putin.
Pelosi proves that timing is everything when it comes to delivering your message. Senator Barbara Boxer dinged Putin on the same issue a few weeks ago, but didn’t see nearly the buzz that Pelosi has.
After the anti-LGBT legislation was passed in Russia, Boxer sent a letter to Putin expressing her concern.
“I cannot stay silent while your country works to put in place deeply discriminatory laws and policies undermining the rights of LGBT individuals,” the California senator wrote.
We compared Boxer’s Likes and Follower increases the week that she issued her letter to Putin to Pelosi’s gains since posting her tweet.
While Boxer saw some increases in her online followings–Pelosi’s message was far more contagious on social networking sites. Given the uproar that Putin’s op-ed has caused, it makes sense that Pelosi’s pointed response to Putin would receive more attention; she’s also has a higher profile in Washington with a more extensive social media base.
Pelosi delivered her message via Twitter indicating she meant to reach social media users, rather than directly challenge Putin on the controversial law. Pelosi may have been trying to win back her base, especially after she backed President Obama by supporting military intervention in Syria last week–a position that has been very unpopular with voters.
As the Winter Olympics draw closer, Russia’s anti-LGBT laws are likely to draw more criticism. We’ll watch social media platforms to see how politicos and pundits are weighing in on the issue.