Translator’s Note: I am fascinated and horrified by the amount of mindless anti-Americanism one comes across these days. Obviously, it comes as no surprise when one experiences this in neo-Nazi Russia, where national chauvinism is official policy but it is more annoying to come up against this in Europe, where they should know better. It was therefore with particular pleasure that I read this intelligent article on the subject by a a Russian American.
Don’t Look for Fools in America
7 August 2009
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
My colleague Lev Rubinshtein recently published an article [in Grani] on the subject of “mother country” and found that we were thinking along the same lines as I was in fact considering this opening for my piece: A certain German chancellor, when asked if he loved his “heimat”, replied that actually he loved his wife… Don’t get smart with words, in other words. However, if it is in someone’s nature to get smart with words or concepts, and if he’s feeling bored and can’t think of anything else to do with his (not so great) brains, he will almost always wind himself up into a state of hatred for the alien or love of the homeland.
I recall how a group of Russian writers once paid a visit to Israel. One of them snorted that Israel is a historical mistake, another made some senselessly rude remark about émigrés. To cut a long story short, they went there, behaved like louts, and left. Even if we allow that our writers were maybe taken somewhere unsuitable (which can happen on any trip to any country), they probably deserved to be taken to that very place and find themselves talking to the people there. Conversely, there was no need for the locals to get upset, they should have known what sort of people they were dealing with.