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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Cold Wars II: The Russophile Menace

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail" he wrote:

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disapointed by the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that that Negro's great stumbling block in his stride towards freedom is not the White Citizens Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with the goals you seek but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom. Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunder- standing from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Barry Goldwater put it more succinctly: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

The Russophile and the "white moderate" are the same. In our more modern times, we have the convenient word "enabler" to refer to both of them, or the perhaps more accurate term "collaborator." The Russophile paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for the Russian man's freedom, and can by doing so preserve "order" while simply delaying justice. Does that mean the actual Russians hate the Russophiles even more than they do they Russophobes. Yes, my child, indeed it is so. Ironic, isn't it?

For the Russophile, Vladimir Putin is a mere "transitional figure," a "strong leader" whose "occasional rough tactics" are necessary to ward of the advances of Russia's "oligarchs," the mafia elite. Just as King was told by the white moderates that he needed to bide his time, the Russophile assures us that just as it "took time" for democracy to develop in America and Europe, so too time is all that is needed in Russia.

When reminded that Russia has already existed as a nation twice as long as America, the excuses, rationalizations and justifications begin, the same ones that Dr. King found "more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding." The main items on the list are:

1. Russia is surrounded by enemies while America is surrounded by oceans.

2. Russia is victimized by poor climate while America is a vacation playground.

3. Russia has been repeatedly decimated by scourges internal and external, America has never known that pain.

There are two obvious faults with this line of "reasoning."

First, these Russophiles are never willing to specify any kind of timetable for Russia, but simply keep moving the goal posts further down the field as time drags on. The Russophile will never answer the question: "What would have to happen in Russia to make you change your mind?" That is the bare essence of propaganda.

Second, the excuses simply don't hold water. As much as oceans provide protection they also guarantee isolation. Americans overcame the "Lord of the Flies" syndrome. Russia's cold weather has protected it on more than one occasion from foreign enemies. And Amercia has faced many scourges, including the Great Depression and the Civil War, which killed more Americans than all other wars the country has ever fought combined.

During the Civil War, America conducted contested election the like of which Russia has never once seen even in peacetime. Four different American presidents, in the span of just over 200 years, have been shot and killed while in office, but dicatorship did not result. Franklin Roosevelt broke George Washington's tradition and grabbed four terms in office, tried to pack the Supreme Court with sycophants, lied brazenly about his medical condition and built concentration camps for Japanese Americans; yet, the public did not allow him to become a dictator. As soon as his rule ended, radical changes were made to the Constitution so that the two-term presidency became mandatory.

Does anyone believe that when (if?) Vladimir Putin leaves office, radical legal changes will be demanded to block the worst of his excesss?

Indeed, can any Russophile answer this question: "If Boris Yeltsin was so bad, and Russians hated him so much, why did they, like lemmings, anoint the chosen successor Yeltsin named?"

To bring this issues closer to La Russophobe's home, this blog used to contain three strong compliments of Russia. First it directed readers to a museum of Russian art in Manhattan. Then it praised Russian literature to the sky. Finally, it offered a translation of a Russian poem for the reader's enjoyment.

The careful reader will notice that all these compliments have now been removed. Why? The Russophile menance. It was not, of course, suprising -- in fact, very desireable and hoped-for -- that Russophiles would attack the russophobic comments of La Russophobe. But if Russophiles were really "more reasonable" or "more intelligent" than La Russophobe they would have complimented the compliments too, wouldn't they? Because if they didn't, they'd be "just as bad" as "terrible" La Russophobe, wouldn't they?

But they didn't. They just swarmed over the criticism like flies on a ribroast and ignored the compliments entirely.

C'est la vie dans la Russie. So, dear reader, off we go to Cold Wars II.


Michael van der Galien said...

For the Russophile, Vladimir Putin is a mere "transitional figure," a "strong leader" whose "occasional rough tactics" are necessary to ward of the advances of Russia's "oligarchs," the mafia elite.

The problem with that view is of course that those people helped Putin to power. They had enough of Jeltsin and they thought Putin could help them become more rich and be more powerful.
I saw a documentary about one of the oligarchs from Russia who now lives in England (out of fear of being prosecuted). I forgot his name for now, I will have to look it up.
Anyhow, he quite clearly said how he and his rich buddies thought Putin was a good thing for them, but when Putin finally got to power, he replaced / attacked those who could possibly threaten him.

La Russophobe: I agree with you about the 'white moderate' Dr. King described. I read the letter from Birmingham Jail almost every month or 2 months, just to get inspired. One of the greatest letters ever written.
Anyhow; the problem with that type of moderate is that they seem to be completely reasonable, seem to understand ones problems, but refuse to do something about it, because the 'time is not right'. As MLK pointed out so beautifully, the time is always right to do right and only forces who don't want to bring change benefit of an 'wait attitude'.

La Russophobe said...

That was Berezovsky.

I might be able to understand and respect (though not accept) this attitude you aptly describe from the Russophiles if only they would draw a bright line for future conduct that they will not accept from Putin, but this is never done.

They never tire of saying "Putin is not Stalin." But there was a time when STALIN wasn't Stalin, and at that time he could have been prevented from becoming Stalin, and then killing more Russians than Hitler.

Alas, too much time was wasted.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the Lermontov translation wasn't taken off because it was so bad (and the glaring error in line one had been pointed out to you).

No, of course not.

And it wasn't taken off because in the comments section you'd been made to look a fool.

No, of course not.

Where did you learn how to manage your site? The Kremlin?

La Russophobe said...

La Russophobe's amateur translation was brilliant compared to the professional work of Russians. By comparison to the official Russian translation of Huck Finn, La Russophobe's work is Shakespearean.

But congratulations on discouraging Westerners from reading and translating Russian poetry! Just one more stupid move by Russia, driving yet another nail into its cheap pine coffin.