This evening, I was shocked by something a friend had written on a Facebook post of mine about the recent terrorist attacks in Russia. Namely, that they “weren’t there for Russia”.
It was just a throwaway line, but it hit me like a slap. I felt like I’d just been rebuked for caring that innocent people had died for no good reason, just because someone else had put ideology ahead of humanity. And sadly, it wasn’t the first time somebody had written something like that to a post I’d put up about the Russian terror incident, either. Ideology doesn’t just make terrorists forget their humanity; it makes us do so, too.
I’m not going to name names. This is not a call-out post. This is a call-your-attention post. It’s a call to mind your humanity.
And, in all humanity, I have to say this: I don’t understand anyone who says that the recent subway bombings in St. Petersburg just don’t really move them, because RUSSIA. I don’t care what your beef with Russia is. The victims of this terrorist incident have nothing to do with that. If you’re not there for the victims of St. Petersburg, I’m not there for your russophobia.
See, I’m old enough to remember what it was like during the Cold War. The capitalist media shamelessly pulled the wool over our eyes, with CIA propaganda pervading everything, even art and literature. I’m still dealing with the aftereffects of THAT extended brainwash. I fucking despise it. And I don’t like seeing any of my friends falling for it in its current form. I had thought they were better than this.
Now, nobody is saying Russia is perfect. Let’s just get that out of the way right here and now. Do I have a problem with Vladimir Putin? Yes. And also with the lawmakers of the Duma who constantly look the other way while LGBT Russians are beaten to death just for being LGBT. And with all those who voted in favor of decriminalizing wife-abuse. I’m not there for the crooked patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, nor am I there for the Russian mafia who are the biggest pimps and traffickers in the world. I’m not there for anyone who perpetrates human-rights abuses. But I am still there for Russia, because Russia is not just those people.
Russia is more than just the sum of its worst parts. For every bad lawmaker and every corrupt churchman and every organized criminal, there are countless others who are NOT bad people. Russia abounds in people who are normal, decent, and even downright lovely. I follow a Russian YouTuber, for instance, who uploads videos of the street cats he feeds and befriends in his town. He clearly loves them. If one of them is too shy to come to the dish, he digs out a handful of meat and places it in front of the hungry kitty. I have never met him, but it hardly matters. I love that guy. And I suspect that watching him will give much better insight into the Russian soul than watching its politicians.
That’s the Russia we don’t see on our six o’clock news reports. Because the media don’t care a shit about the human side of Russia, and neither do western politicians. Their agenda is to say whatever is politically and economically expedient for them, and that means bashing Russia. It’s like the Berlin Wall never came down! The Cold War image of Russia as a one-man, one-party state still prevails. To them, Russia is all Putin, all the time. Putin is at fault for everything wrong in the world. And Putin must be demonized, even though he is hardly the worst man out there. We have more than enough baddies of our own, but never mind them — Putin, Putin, PUTIN!
Well, look. He may be too right-wing for my liking, and he’s definitely too close to the oligarchy, but I have to admit that the German in me warmed to ol’ Pooty-Poot a teensy bit when I saw him translating for a German politician on TV. His command of German was impressive. I now know that he learned it in high school, and was later stationed in Dresden (during Soviet times, when East Germany was still in the Warsaw Pact), becoming fluent as a result. As a lifelong student of languages, I know how hard it is to learn one with a whole other alphabet; I’m currently grappling with Russian, myself. So I can’t help respecting that about him. Whatever else Putin may be, he at least is neither a fool nor a xenophobe, and that alone puts him miles ahead of Donnie Drumpf. I have many questions about him, but I can’t honestly say I really fucking hate him. Not like the Russian mafiosi, who did business with Drumpf and pimped all those poor girls to him and funneled all that cash to him, enabling him to mount his electoral bamboozle. Those guys are truly the scum of their land. They have tremendous power in Russia and abroad. If justice were done, they’d be rotting in a gulag (and that’s one bit of nostalgia I have for Russian communist days). But they, too, are not Russia.
The day we make all the people of a country collectively pay for whatever we don’t like about their political leaders, their business bosses, their organized criminals, their gay-bashing street gangs, or whatever have you, is the day that old bitch Karma will take notes on us. When we turn a blind eye to terrorism against Russians, we are subtly but surely turning Russians against us. We may as well not bother to say we care about Russian women being abused, or Russian LGBT people being bashed, when we say things like “I’m not there for Russia” after a terror attack. Such blind callous animosity is what drives wars both hot and cold.
And I’m sorry, my friends, but I’m just not there for that.