The Toxin of Russian Racism
We’ve said many times before that the Russia teems with the most virulent and shameless racism imaginable, and the litany of dead, dark-skinned bodies is sure and certain proof of this undeniable fact (click the “racism” link in the “categories” section of our sidebar to read four years’ worth of our reporting on the subject, which may take you days to get through) .
But we’ve also always been careful to point out that, as utterly horrific as these killings are, there is a darker, more outrageous element to the racism found in Russia, namely that it is openly supported not just by the general population but by the government itself. Russia is, quite simply, a nation of racists and they are proud of it.
Reporting from Moscow in a blog post we republish in today’s issue, journalist Julia Ioffe provides an example of what is happening in Russia on a daily basis from her own personal experience. Ioffe, whose parents fled Russia when she was a child, stood on a subway platform and watched a screaming hoard of Russian skinheads chanting about purging all non-Slavic blood from Russia. She stood and watched as hundreds of ordinary Russians clapped and cheered their message: “Russia for Slavs!” (using the word for “Russian” in Russian that means “Slavs and nobody else”).
Everyone — everyone — who has spent time living on the real streets of Russia knows that the anecdote Ioffe is relating is anything but anecdotal. It’s fact, it’s conventional wisdom, it’s the real Russia.
Not once in his entire tenure as supreme ruler of Russia has the dictator Vladimir Putin made a televised address condemning Russian racism. Not once has he spoken out about the dozens of dark-skinned Russian citizens who are brutally murdered on account of their skin color by Russian maniacs ever year. Not once has he spearheaded any legislative initiative or PR offensive to confront and turn back Russian racism.
And why should he? Since taking office more than one year ago, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has not said one single public word about race violence and murder in Russia. The first black president, who would not last five minutes as an unescorted passenger on the Moscow subway, has turned every much of a blind eye and deaf ear to the horrors of Russian racism as has Putin himself.
Meanwhile, the craven denizens of Russia not only clap on platforms for racist exhortation, they continue to favor Putin with massive approval in opinion polls. It does not seem to occur to many of them that growing hostility towards non-Slavs is a symptom of a failed economic policy, causing more and more Russians to worry about their futures and to lash out against anyone their tiny minds perceive to be a threat to that future. They do not seem to realize that Putin is solely responsible for that failed policy.
And even more important, these cowardly benighted people do not seem to realize how this virulent toxin of racism is undermining the very foundations of their society. The attitude of most Russians that, for instance, the people of Chechnya can never be full-fledged Russian citizens because they are not Slavic and Orthodox while insisting that, nonetheless, they remain part of Russia rather than being allowed to create their own country, is nothing short of psychotic. It is the same as saying that Chechens, and other non-Slavic citizens of Russia, are slaves. Such a political, economic and social system cannot endure, history has shown that unequivocally. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Russian racism, as Ioffe innately perceives, is a poison that will kill the nation. As a Russian expat-turned-repat, she is terrified at the prospect of watching her homeland once again collapse into ruin. So are we.