Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Racism in modern-day Russia

Is racism a problem in modern day Russia? I doubt that “problem” is a word they would use, but what we here in the U.S. we can’t avoid seeing that what we call Racism does exist there. Consider the following from a Wikipedia article:

“In May 2006, Amnesty International reported that racist killings in Russia were "out of control" and that at least 28 people were killed in 2005. In 2006 Amnesty International registered 252 victims of racist crimes, of which 21 died. In February 2007, President Vladimir Putin asked the Federal Security Service to combat racism, but hate crimes still increased. From January 1 to July 31, 2007, Amnesty International registered 310 victims of neo-Nazi and racist crimes in Russia; 37 of those victims died as a result of attacks. Amnesty International criticize Russian police for not doing enough to combat racist crimes, and for often ignoring reports from civilians about threats and crimes. According to the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, from January to March, 2008, 49 people were killed in assaults by radical nationalists, 28 of them in the greater Moscow area.

“The number of Russian neo-Nazis is estimated at 50,000 to 70,000, "half of the world's total.". The director of the Human Rights Bureau, Alexander Brod, stated that surveys show xenophobia and other racist expressions affect 50 percent of Russians.”

And Paul Goble’s just posted an article about attempts to bridge the gap between ethnic Russians (racists by US definition) and civic Russians. http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2009/04/window-on-eurasia-russian-citizens-try.html


In reading about these matters, I recalled that a number of times Michael Kuznetsov referred to himself as 100% White Russian. Such an expression couldn’t be used with impunity here in the United States. One would instantly be classified as a racist. Racism is among the most serious of crimes here in the US, but apparently not in Russia, and that strikes me as especially interesting at the present time because I have just been wading through the horrors of the Red Army’s occupation of Berlin in 1945. Rape was considered an acceptable thing to do – gang rape was especially popular and it didn’t make any difference whether the victim was 12 or 62.

Apparently the Soviets referred to what the Red Army did as a “noble fury.” One of the effects was to trigger “the largest panic migration in history. Between 12 January and mid-February 1945, almost 8.5 million Germans fled their homes in the eastern provinces of the Reich.” [Beevor, The Fall of Berlin 1945, pp. 36-37]

“’They all lifted their skirts for us and lay on the bed,’ said the Komsomol leader in a tank company. He even went on to boast that ‘2 million of our children were born’ in Germany.” [ibid. P. 31]

If this is true; if the mass rape of countless German Women by Red Army soldiers produced 2 million Russian/German babies, then the prospect of another Racist Hitler rising up to speak of the purity of the German “race” would be problematic. But perhaps that is not nearly the same problem for modern day Russians. It is almost as though the Racist Germans have handed off their racist baton to the Racist Russians. For Hitler, the Slavic people were untermensch, but what about now? Are the 100% White Russians the new ubermensch? Are those in Russia who aren’t 100% White Russian untermensch? And how about the rest of the world? Are we all untermensch?

If one were to search my blog, one would find that I have sided with ethnic Europeans against the inroads being made by ethnic Muslims, but what I had in mind was the Oriana Fallaci – Bat Ye’or concern, of Muslins who move into the Netherlands or France but refuse to integrate. They remain in enclaves which as time goes on increase in power and number. Alarmist see the Muslin ethnicity drowning out the European; which I would consider a bad thing.

I compared the difficulties Europeans have in integrating their immigrants with the ease with which that occurs in the US. To integrate immigrants is good, I assume. But if a nation can’t integrate them or if the immigrants won’t integrate, then that is bad – I have argued this in the past, but what I am reading about in Russia now is a different matter. The “Civic Russians” want to integrate – in fact they think they already have – but the “Ethnic Russians” won’t accept them.

I live in Southern California, the melting-pot of the US. We do integration better here than any place else in the US and the US does it better than any place elsewhere in the world; so are we thereby better than other nations? Or are we merely as Hitler described us, a nation of mongrels. The answer would depend on whether one accepts current thinking on genetics and anthropology or prefers obsolete and discredited racial theories.

Of this I am sure: genetically there is very little difference between any of us. Only in the realm of culture are their differences. We here in the US have cultivated a culture which encourages all the cultures coming here, immigrating here, to consider themselves and their beliefs as equal, but at the same time to accept America as a working-melting pot. But in other parts of the world ethnicity is more important. One can’t move to Japan or Saudi Arabia or, apparently, Russia, and expect to fit in. In fact there are probably more places where an immigrant wouldn’t fit in than places where he would.

Which, regrettably, brings me back to the political philosophy of Samuel Huntington who argued that for the foreseeable future, there will be military clashes between “Civilizations” along their “fault lines.” If I declare myself to be 100% White Russian, I may add that I don’t think I am superior to anyone, but it should go without saying that I don’t think anyone is superior to me. Also, how can I walk around with this declaration hanging around my neck without having it nailed down by a chip on each shoulder?

“Can’t we all just get along?” is a line Jack Nicholson used portraying the American President in Mars Attacks. The short answer was an unspoken, “no.”

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