The freakishly weird looking individual at left is described by the Guardian newspaper’s website, in their “Comment is Free” blog section, as “a visiting fellow with the Crisis States Research Centre at the London School of Economics.”
Remember Olga Ivanova? Well, let us introduce you to her counterpart across the pond, Anna Matveeva.
In a recent blog posting, she declares that “anti-Russian stereotypes have become commonplace in the west. It’s up to the media not to spoil a vital relationship.” It’s such a classic bit of neo-Soviet propaganda that we can’t help reviewing it line by line. Read along with us, won’t you?
First, a few general observations. Though Ms. Mateeva is a Russian citizen, she doesn’t say so to warn her readers, nor does she make any effort to examine her own bias. She doesn’t say a single word about the possibility that “russophilia” might be a bad thing, nor does she spend a single word criticizing any Ameriphobia that might be found in Russia. Worse, she doesn’t acknowledge the slightest possiblity that Russia might have done anything to provoke “russophobia” or might need to reform in any way. Apparently, she thinks its totally irrelevant that Russia is governed by a proud KGB spy. Finally, though she claims the West’s relationship with Russia is “vital” she doesn’t give one single scrap of evidence to substantiate this point. There’s nothing remotely like research or journalism to be found anywhere in her ridiculous nationalistic tirade.
With those damning faults in mind, let’s take a look at the text, in boldface followed by our commentary in normal typeface.
A Russophobia virus has infected the air. What is it? It is when an English literature teacher in a good school, explaining how to answer an exam question on comedy, tells your daughter: “Don’t worry, simply write – I am Russian, I do not have a sense of humour.” Or the ease with which jokes like “You are Russian, you must know all about corruption,” are made. A BBC documentary presenter asks his Russian interpreter in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad: “Do you feel Russian or European?” What does he expect the woman to say?
Note well how she begins, dear reader. If you criticize Russia, then you are “sick.” You need to be packed off to a mental institution and “cured.” That’s the way the USSR dealt with dissent, and it’s the way Russia’s KGB regime deals with it, as we’ve repeatedly documented here on this blog. But Russophila is perfectly healthy, of course, as is Ameriphobia. Note well the use of anonymous sources, and the bizarrely paranoid nature of how Russians are offended.
When a fashionable detective writer wants to write a thriller with a foreign twist, guess who will be the nemesis? An al-Qaida plot in Hackney runs the risk of being politically incorrect. But Russian dissidents and oligarchs chased by Scottish police fit the bill perfectly. The British media, mindful of inter-race relations, seeks to avoid hurting the feelings of Muslims, but the idea that Russians can feel hurt does not occur to them. For Russians in the west, if one is not an oligarch, pop star or secret assassin, and does not think that “Putin’s regime” is second-worst to that of Ivan the Terrible, treading these waters is problematic.
So let’s see if we understand. If any Russian person is ever depicted in any movie as a corrupt villain, that’s proof of a worldwide “russophobic” conspiracy? Did Russians consider the possibility that the West — to say nothing of the families of millions murdered by Stalin — might feel “hurt” when they chose a proud KGB spy as their president? Is this baboon aware of the fact that Russia is rated by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt civilizations on the planet, or that it has the fifth-highest murder rate in the world? Note well, dear reader, that examples of Russians who are not evil, who are doing something useful to the world, don’t exactly come trippingly off the tongue of this writer.
This is not to say that Russians in Britain are discriminated against in the workplace, or that my neighbours suspect me of dumping polonium when I throw rubbish away. Rather, it is possible to say things without thinking of what it might be like on the receiving end. Stereotypes promoted by the media are now entrenched: Russian companies are corrupt and are puppets of the state, minorities are not allowed to speak their languages and males are chauvinist machos. The economy survives on pumping gas, while the leadership dreams of conquering half of the world. News from Russia is bad news. It is hard to blame journalists for reporting what is newsworthy: saying that Russians go to supermarkets and buy the same food as their western counterparts is boring, while writing that Moscow hosts the first ever all-male strip joint is “sexy”.
Is this maniac suggesting it’s a falsehood that the Russian economy depends on petroleum? Is she aware that Russia’s average wage and per capita GDP are a tiny fraction of that in the West, while Russia’s inflation rate is two or three times higher at least? Does she know that Russia doesn’t rank in the top 100 countries of the world for male adult lifespan? Is she aware of Russia’s epidemic of race violence, which recently got an 18-year-old American student stabbed, or its crisis of medical care, which forced his removal to Finland for treatment? Does she care even a little bit about actual facts?
The Russia-Georgia debacle brought these attitudes to the fore. The reaction of the media and the politicians was overwhelmingly anti-Russian, because their gut feeling told them who was in the wrong. More objective reports appeared much later. Why was the conflict in South Ossetia so important? Because Russia was a party to it. Readers were led to believe that minuscule South Ossetia is a proto-state like Kosovo, while no parallels were drawn with Nato action in ex-Yugoslavia in support of Albanians.
Hmm, so if China had invaded Georgia, the world wouldn’t have cared? What a revelation! It appears this skull-scratching ape is unaware that many nations cooperated in NATO’s action against Yugoslavia, while not one single nation in the world cooperated with Russia. And like a typical Soviet propagandist, she doesn’t stop for a second to consider that any Russian misconduct might account for that fact. Nope, impossible. The only explanation is blind seething hatred of Russians. Is she unware of the fact that China reacted exactly the same way to Russian aggression as Western Europe did? Is she aware that all reports, recent and contemporaneous, condemned Russian attacks on Georgia proper and found Russia guilty of gross human rights violations? Does she believe a single word about Russia that is not printed by the Kremlin?
Most important, is this blockhead even vaguely aware of how Russians circulated and believed two totally outrageous falsehoods about the war in the early days, namely that 2,000 civilians had been killed in Ossetia by the Georgians and that an entire city had been wiped out? Western media reported those claims by the Kremlin when they were made, only to learn later that they were propaganda inventions. Has this idiot ever read the story of the fox and the grapes? There is not one single word in her text acknowledging any misconduct of any kind by Russian in Georgia. Is that how she lead by example?
The question is: can Russia do anything good? In Russophobes’ eyes, it should (1) surrender and apologise, (2) give western companies control over natural reserves because Russians mismanage them anyhow, (3) limit their ambitions to culture and (4) award Boris Berezovsky a medal for democracy-promotion.
Good question! Can Russia do anything good? Notice how she doesn’t even try to answer that question. Notice how she speaks just as negatively about Western coverage of Russia as she condemns that coverage for being. This is classic Russian hypocrisy. And notice, dear reader, how this so-called “scholar’s” rhetoric dengerates horrifyingly into the same childish, borderline crazy rambling that characterizes Vladmir Putin’s remarks when he’s under pressure.
Another good question she doesn’t ask is: Can America do anything good? Can she point to reporting in Russia on state-controlled media that even-handedly reports American success and failure? Or is she too busy swilling the potent vodka of the Kremlin’s propaganda?
What feeds Russophobia? Moscow’s own actions are only part of the story. In the last few years several constituencies came together to create a new momentum. The cold warriors found a mission again. The existence of a familiar enemy who plays by the rules is more comfortable than the “enemy amongst us” who may work in a corner chip shop. Western liberals who passionately believed in Russia’s democratic transformation to their own recipe became disillusioned, turning the energy of embittered idealism into exposing the evils of “Putin’s KGB regime”. They were joined by immigrants who made their way in the new country by “unveiling the truth” about Russia.
Wait a minute! Is she suddenly admitting that Russia’s actions might have something to do with how Russia is perceived by the West? If so, what mistake has Russia made that it should correct? You’ll spend a lifetime waiting for the answer to that question from a crazed, rabid Russophile, like this one, dear reader. Instead, in the next sentence we find out that the West is far more paranoid of foreign enemies than Russia is, and it wants to imagine the fact that Vladimir Putin is a proud KGB spy is somehow relevant, when it means nothing.
What are the effects of Russophobia? Economically, as BP and Shell found out, it is harder to do business. Politically, it is impossible to conduct a frank dialogue on issues of common concern, as trust has gone out of the relationship. In the security field, it has resulted in militarisation on both sides, undermining the achievements of disarmament. Finally, polarising language flourishes. Unlike in the 1990s, the Russian elite reads English-language media, getting from it the idea that “the west is against us”.
So, as we understand it, this raving lunatic is saying that if only the West hadn’t made movies with Russians as villains, Russia wouldn’t have stolen the assets of BP and Shell. There’s no hatred of foreigners in Russia, and the fact that the country is governed by a proud KGB spy who is wiping out civil society and well on his way to becoming “president for life” is irrelevant. If only we’d just speak nicely and respectfully to Russia, everything would all be fine. Yikes. This is truly terrifying stuff, and not for the reason this writer would like to imagine. If a Russian studying in the West is this full of pathology, just imagine what those who remain back home are like!
Why should we care? Attitudes matter as Russia is at a crossroads. It can go either towards increased modernisation or militarisation. It can build pragmatic, but solid relations with the west, or it can indulge in spoiling the international game and setting up anti-western alliances. It is the responsibility of the western intelligentsia to see that stereotypes create enemies and not to miss their chance to prevent a new division of Europe.
“We”? What you mean “we” kimosabe? Intelligentsia? Aren’t they found in Russia? Division of Europe? If sides are chosen, who exactly is going to be on Russia’s side?