Dear Russia

A few days ago Russia's ultra-nationalist group, Nashi ("ours" in Russian), held a demonstration in front of the American Embassy in Moscow. On November 4, the Russian "Unification Day", more nationalists along with their neo-Nazi sympathizers paraded along several parks in Moscow and St. Petersburg--"free the Slavic people" some of them said.

I see...

Well, I certainly do not hold back when giving my opinion on fascist or totalitarian governments; and certainly, I will not hide my opinion on Russia and her backward political system and sense of nationalism. The problem with Russia is that it labels everything Russian as Slavic and everything Slavic as Russian. Or, as my fellow student, Charlie, said: "They're a pain in the ass for the sake of being a pain in the ass".

"Free the Slavic People"...from what, praytell? If, by Slavic they meant "Russian", then they are in the deepest of errors, and more obnoxious is the fact that they want the "Slavic" people freed from the likes of the United States and Western Europe. On BBC's latest documentary one of the New Russians--blond, tall, educated in the West, no doubt--haughtily and in a faux-British accent claimed: "The West thinks that they understand Russia and the Russians, but they don't".

Oh, but we do. Allow me to enlighten. Russia stands lingering in the shadow of failure and defeat; they are not a superpower, but, as President-elect Obama put it, a "20th-century dictatorship"...one posing as a 21st century Democracy. Russia has never been as successful as the United States. Russian citizens have never enjoyed a genuine civic culture--one of reciprocity between themselves and their government. Russians have never had to choose--things have been chosen for them; and furthermore, they have allowed themselves to be carried away by the fiery rhetoric of passionate, agenda-led leaders--Lenin and Putin, for instance.

During the Cold War, Russia was especially deft at imagery, depicting themselves as a nuclear-capable country when in reality, many of those weapons paraded around Red Square were as worthless as cardboard. Even now, after Communism has "vanished", Russia has turned its attention to pretending to be capitalist and, more amusing, Democratic. But everyone knows that this Russian Democracy, like everything they try to mimic, is not as good as the original: TVs, Nuclear Weapons, French Culture, and American/British Democracy. What is it about the Russian touch that makes everything second-best? If it has ever been possible that an entire nation suffers from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, then Russia is an example.

In one of my favorite films, "Finding Forrester", the protagonist Forrester says that "you can always tell what someone is trying to hide, by the way they're trying to hide it". And this is why the West can see through Russia: because what they are trying to hide is a severe inferiority complex. If Russia were truly the confident nation that she claims to be, then they wouldn't have pretended to be French for half a century, St. Petersburg would not be peppered with "European" architecture, and Russian women would probably lay off the patent leather (I have no idea why they would think that's fashionable).

So when Nashi called the multi-billion dollar campaigns for our elections an "overpriced American entertainment", of course I had to disagree. There you have it: freedom of choice is a luxury for Russians, and standing in line to elect the first Black president of the United States is, according to Russians, a mere entertainment and distraction. O, wise Russia, won't you be the one to give America political and economic advice? Especially when I see army veterans without arms and legs begging on the sidewalks of Nevskii Prospekt; especially when women are sexually harassed and discriminated against in the workplace and alcoholism is probably the number one cause of death in your society.

I sense envy in these ultra-nationalists. America does not have these problems and therefore it is spoiled and rotten. Americans enjoy civil rights and our candidates have to campaign for votes, so therefore that makes us hedonists searching for expensive past-times. America has enjoyed and, despite the crisis, will continue to enjoy a strong economy so therefore it is corrupt and capitalist and our women, due to the fact that they have voices and rights aren't women--their wombs are rotten.

Well, I agree with the slogan, "free the Slavic People": Russia, understand that Georgia is not yours. Estonia is not yours. The Ukraine is not yours. Poland is not yours. Hungary is not yours...and I can continue. But, if by "Slavic People" you mean "Russian People", then, you have no business parading around our embassy--you need to take that up with KGB leader, Vladimir Putin and the man he elected as President, Madvedev.

But I agree nonetheless: the Slavic People do need to be freed and Russians need to be freed from their painful denial.

aeka at 11:27 a.m.