People are worried about the Russians.
With good reason. The Russians are scary. They have this aggressive tendency. They're always invading somewhere. Their society is ruled by vastly wealthy oligarchs who are above the law. They have enough nuclear weapons to destroy all life on Earth ten times over.
Wait a minute. That's us.
Let's amend the original statement. People are worried about what the Russians are doing in Ukraine.
Well, here's another thing to worry about, besides the Russians.
Ukraine is our little buddy, right? And we want the Russians to leave them alone. So they can enjoy the fruits of democracy.
So here's the worrisome part.
At least for now, Ukraine is ruled by a coalition of political parties that can be considered "center-right," or even "right-wing." That's okay, since you could say more or less the same thing about the United States.
But one of the parties in the coalition is Svoboda, which translated into English means "Freedom." Svoboda is right wing, all right, but it isn't as... nuanced, let's say, as the other ruling parties.
For example, here's a recent video of Svoboda politician Igor Miroshnichenko (yes, wearing the pony tail that was cool back in 1994) demanding the resignation of the National TV channel's director, Oleksandr Panteleymonov.
Miroshnichenko is a sitting member of Ukraine Parliament, and ironically enough, Deputy Head of the Parliament's Committee on Freedom of Speech.
Note towards the end of the video, where he jabs Panteleymonov in the head with a pen several times. Now, that's how you get somebody's attention!
Before you go thinking this must be slanted coverage, realize that this video was taken and uploaded by Svoboda members. See, because they're showing us how you get it done in a democracy.
Forward, Into the Past
If you've got a photographic memory for minor international incidents, you might recall that back in 2012, Igor Miroshnichenko was involved in another somewhat ugly controversy.
At that time, the actress Mila Kunis, who is Ukrainian, said that she experienced anti-semitism as a child in Ukraine. In response, Miroshnichenko said Kunis "is not a Ukrainian but a zhydivka."
In Slavic languages, the word "zhydivka" is sometimes translated as "dirty Jewess." The word was often used during the slaughter of Ukrainian Jews under the Nazis in World War Two. It is associated with the Babi Yar Massacre of more than 33,700 Jews in September, 1941.
For his part, Miroshnichenko claimed that he did not mean it that way. All he meant to say was: "Kunis is not a Ukrainian but a Jew."
Which is kind of like you saying to me, "Do you like the American film director Steven Spielberg?"
And me saying back to you, "Spielberg's not an American. He's a Jew."
This would be an example of something called "xenophobia," which is defined as "a deep-rooted, irrational hatred towards foreigners, or a group present within a society that is not considered part of that society."
Xenophobia can include "suspicion of the group's activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity."
You don't need a photographic memory to remember that this was the driving force behind the Holocaust.
Keep in mind that as far the United States government and media are concerned, Miroshnichenko and his Svoboda buddies are among the good guys in this whole Ukraine problem. It is safe to assume that your tax dollars are funding their activities.
Oh, by the way, from 1991 to 2003 the Svoboda party had an interesting official logo. It is below. Does it remind you of anything?
|It's called a Wolfsangel, and it's a German coat of arms symbol, originally from the late Medieval period. It was used as the symbol of numerous German military units during World War Two. Yes, it is related to the Nazi swastika.|