“Let it be clearly understood that the Russian is a delightful person till he tucks in his shirt. As an Oriental he is charming. It is only when he insists upon being treated as the most easterly of western peoples instead of the most westerly of easterns that he becomes a racial anomaly extremely difficult to handle. The host never knows which side of his nature is going to turn up next”.
If you put that in context with everything else we knew the Russians were doing to interfere with the election, and just the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique.
James Clapper, former head of CIA.
“It’s like anti-Semitism,”
Vladimir Putin, on allegations of Russian “meddling” in US elections.
Many Americans will argue that Russophobia is not like antisemitism in any way at all; they will tell you they don’t hate Russian people as individuals – just Vladimir Putin, who is a public figure.
Putin is also a person and an individual. But never mind the logic. Argue with an American who talks this way and he/ she will say something like “there are good people and bad people” not that really means anything at all – but implies that Russians can only be trusted if they are “our Russians”.
Americans see the world through the VR headsets of the Mainstream Media, CNN, WaPo, the NYT – and most important of all – Hollywood, where Russians are almost always the “bad guys”. The style of each headset is different; the content, the same. This headset glitches constantly – but nobody takes it off.
It is all so confusing….
Americans will argue that antisemitism is a kind of racism – but Russophobia is not – ignoring the fact that Jewish people are not a “race”, even according to the current vague definitions of the term – but rather an ethnicity – like being Russian.
On the other hand, “Americans”, who really occupy only a small chunk of the Americas but see themselves as owning both American continents, North and South, really see Russians as either “genetically” different (Clapper) or a “racial anomaly” (Kipling), both of which are dehumanizing.
I don’t subscribe to this thinking but I am Canadian and, while my country is part of North America and actually larger than the US, I am not “American” – so, what do I know?
It all started with the Puritans.
The Pilgrim Fathers were separatist Calvinists who had left England for the Netherlands and its more compatible religious atmosphere. They came to America seeking economic opportunity, receiving licenses from Britain who were happy to get rid of them as an intolerant and troublesome cult. The Puritans believed in predestination – that only a few – the Chosen went to Heaven. They also believed that people who didn’t share their beliefs were in the thrall of the Devil. Also, that material success in life was a sign that God loves you. Simply put, God hates losers.
While Puritanism has died out in its original form, thanks to huge numbers of immigrants of different persuasions, it was a core culture. The way of thinking – the fundamentalist meme –persists.
So, America’s neo-Puritan culture thinks America is Heaven. One nation under God, right? Heaven, however, must have an Antithesis and an Adversary. So Putin is Satan and Russia is Hell, and that will remain the case unless Putin gets a Green Card or Russian becomes the 52nd State.
Putin is also Hitler 2.0 – who used to be Satan but is now dead – along with his alternative (and evil) political system.
According to this logic, hating a country and its leader is not antisemitism, except when you are talking about criticizing Israel and its leaders.
What exactly is anti-Semitism?
This is a taboo question because you’re supposed to know the answer. The definition is highly elastic and changes with the time, place and situation.
Suffice it to say, anti-Semitism is whatever the New York Times tells you. Which changes by the day, so you really need to pay and subscribe. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money so I have to figure it out myself.
I therefore look at history…
Anti-Semitism is most definitely not about genetics.
In Britain’s very antisemitic 19th Century Conservative party, Benjamin Disraeli was a popular Prime Minister for many years despite being racially Jewish. Disraeli was a convert, and defined himself as British and Church of England. And did not wear funny hats or his hair in braids. British anti-Semitism at the time was less about bloodlines and more about appearance and behavior.
If anti-Semitism were about genetics, then to be pro-Semitic you have to be Pro-Palestinian as well as Pro-Israeli.
The majority of Palestinians share the same DNA as Israeli Asian Jews – since most of them were originally Jews who converted to Christianity or Islam. In fact, these people are more Jewish at the cellular level than most Israeli European Jews, many of whom are descended from non-Hebrew converts. Of course, Palestinians do not want to self-designate as Jews – nor could they, even if they wanted to.Israel would prohibit that by law.
So, anti-Semitism is not really racialist, except in certain definitions – such the Nazis’ – who drew on American and British culture to co-opt a kind of racial exceptionalism – Aryanism – which held that only Aryans were truly human and everyone else – especially Jews, Slavs, Roma and blacks – “Untermenschen”, an intrinsically exclusionary ideology.
The Jews were the first focus of Aryanism because of their long-standing semi-autonomous communities within the Reich – in this respect identical to the Roma who were treated with exactly the same spite. America had its Indians and large chunks of land that White settlers wanted, which resulted in the US Indian Genocide. The Germans looked east to the Russia’s vast lands. As a result, the Holocaust was a rehearsal for a bigger genocide planned for the Russians.
It Matters How You Look
Notice that this Jewish girl Rosa, who Hitler really liked, looks very “Aryan”. Appearances matter.
Anti-Semitism is really “Otherism”. For hundreds of years, Orthodox Jews lived in culturally identifiable communities in the US and were easily recognized by their unique clothing, hair, and behavioral styles.
That’s a problem in the US of A, which is multiethnic and multiracial—strictly speaking, a nation of others. The Americans have a workaround: you have a right to be different, so long as you conform to certain criteria. Even if the color of your skin is different, style matters…
The Jews in the picture above are allowed to look “different” because they are…well…Jews. And the clothing thing is a kind of uniform. We all love uniforms, don’t we? Except when they represent the enemy such as Muslims.
The opinions of these particular Jews are another matter, however. They are anti-Zionist and Pro-Palestinian, therefore, anti-Semitic.
Blacks and Chinese and Mexicans have a similar problem, although they don’t dress so differently. Here, skin color matters.
However, if they speak “white” English, go to “white schools”, belong to the mostly white managerial or professional class, and pledge allegiance to the Flag, vote Democratic, they are Americans first, and … whatever else … second.
A good example is Barack Obama who was half white, from an elite Kenyan family, with an elite education. He looked “black”. But he was raised by his white mother, educated in white, elite schools outside of American “black culture”. He was the “whitest” black guy around. Chocolate milk is a different color – but it is still milk – delicious milk – but milk. And Obama did nothing to help American blacks outside of his social class.
“Americanism” is a bit alike Aryanism – without the simplistic, explicit, exceptionalist, unsubtle, fascist racism. Not that it isn’t implicitly racist, exceptionalist, fascist and classist – but in a much more sophisticated way. Let us keep in mind that the Nazis copied a lot of their ideas from the Americans who they greatly admired. In some sense, Aryanism was just a spinoff of Americanism, a not very good copy.
The irony is that Americans are told to think that Russia is fascist!
Hence, Putin as the Russian Fuhrer.
In reality, Russia is a multiparty parliamentary democracy with a high degree of dissent, left and right. Putin regularly gives very long hour interactive national talks to which anyone can phone in. Behind him, comments scroll on screen – including criticisms. Compare that to US Presidential press conferences, which are carefully scripted with reporters fearing to ask questions that might get them cut off from “sources”. Without a doubt, Putin is conservative – but the most principle leader of modern times – with a reverence for the rule of Law.
The USA, however, is not a parliamentary democracy like Russia – it is a “constitutional republic” – with its constitution set up to protect the privilege of elites. In 1911, Eugene Debs wrote of the constitution:
It is not in any sense a democratic instrument, but in every sense a denial of democracy. The Declaration of Independence had been democratic and revolutionary; the Constitution, however, was autocratic and reactionary.
Today, the US is really a one-party state, a corrupt oligarchy, as no less than Jimmy Carter has written. The two official parties represent the Few, not the Many .
Remember how I said that in America, style matters? Today Republicans and Democrats really differ only in style, not substance.
Yet, the US tried to foist its own quasi-fascist, neo-feudal system onto Russia with the collapse of the USSR – and indeed, almost succeeded in doing so. The US loved Yeltsin who was Russia’s Nero, fiddling, or rather boozing while the country burned.
It is Putin who brought the oligarchs to heel, rebuilt the economy and restored Russian pride. There are still oligarchs in Russia but now they must serve the Greater Good. Putin saved Russian democracy and while national restoration is still in progress, there is progress – unlike in the US, which sees increasing militarism, social violence, inequality, and censorship. As Americans lose their freedoms, Russians gain theirs.
While America flounders, the Russians and the Chinese have made huge leaps in technology, with better social standards, and public accountability over the last two decades.
Just as the Jews in Europe were hated for their success, so too do Americans hate the Russians and the Chinese for theirs. Russia and China would only be accepted if they were American vassal states, open to exploitation. Hence, “Russiagate” – and their “information war” on the Russians for their “aggression” in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, and elsewhere.
Putin is right
So Putin is right: Russophobia has its roots in the same psychology that spawns anti-Semitism.
In an article published in the NYT, Putin wrote:
“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.
There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
There is the thing: Americans don’t think God created everyone equal. According to the Puritans most people went to Hell.
Anti-Semitism was for the Nazis, the natural concomitant of an exceptionalist, exclusionary worldview, which upheld the notion that there were two kinds of human beings – Aryans who were human – and everyone else, who were subhuman. That resulted in genocide.
Since its founding, Imperial Washington has been almost constantly at war and since WWII – 19 wars—not counting coups and “regime changes”. The official number of civilian casualties is 12 million but the actual number could be 2 or 3 times greater.