Two Items

On 29 October, police shut down an obvious coup d’etat attempt organized by the Russian seventh column. A mob of about 30-35 fifth columnists, obviously in the pay of the US State Department, descended upon the office of Moscow’s mayor. Clearly their plan was to overthrow the government of Russia and then turn over Russian sovereignty to the United States. Luckily, the ever-vigilant police were on the scene to prevent this coup, and to stop Russia from becoming America’s 51st state, Gaylabama. Nice try, Obama!

Seriously though, what happened could barely be called a demonstration. As far as I have managed to gather from reading about the story and from the video, a group of teachers and doctors actually made an appointment to speak with the mayor or someone in his office regarding the state’s failure to keep up their end of the bargain on some kind of housing provision.  Unfortunately I cannot speak authoritatively on this because I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of provisions for teachers and state-employed doctors, but I do know for a fact that both education and healthcare are major targets of severe budget cuts made necessary by the government’s recent international dipshittery.

One disturbing part of the video shows a woman talking about how some “column”(she’s not sure whether it’s the usual fifth column or possibly the sixth or seventh) must be behind this injustice, and she’s sure that president Putin can’t possibly know what’s going on. In other words, the bureaucrats who are behind this mess are supposedly part of Russia’s 5th-48th columns of US State Department-paid agents, and she’s hoping that daddy Putin will be informed of this travesty so that he can make this all better.  Can you see why I get fed up with this country sometimes? A year ago it would be hard to find someone so stupid as to think Putin was somehow unaware of the corruption here. Now Putin is looked at as someone who is aloof from the system, and his name is invoked in hopes that he will set things right. In reality, while Putin may not know about this specific injustice, he’s more aware than anyone of what Russia has in store. He knows about budget cuts before anyone else. He must be able to infer what results they will have, but he just doesn’t care because it doesn’t affect him. If it gets too bad, he’ll be on a plane with a shitload of money in his accounts.

Of course it doesn’t matter how loyal these people are to Putin, because they have already identified themselves as fifth columnists. They protested; Russians aren’t supposed to do that.  You’re supposed to obey your leaders, no matter how corrupt, because…because….uh…AMERICA! GAY PEOPLE!!! BLEAAAARGH!!!

One other thing I’d like to note about this is the reaction this video has got from some Russians.  Here’s an example off Vkontakte.

“Эти бюджетники всегда голосуют за “Единую Россию”, потому что она им обещает квартиры, зарплаты. А как только трудности в стране – сразу майдан? Пусть едут в глубинку работать. И почему за популизм Собянина должен отвечать Путин? За Лужкова тоже Путин должен был отвечать?”

The main gist here is that the people seen in the video supposedly always vote for United Russia because they are promised apartments and salaries. I’ve seen similar sentiments expressed in the comments section of the video on Youtube.  I realize that some of these people may be right to some extent, but this is really the wrong attitude to take if you want change in the country.  So let’s say these people did vote for United Russia and support Putin. Why not acknowledge the fact that they were duped, like many people in Russia in the past 23 years? Why not reach out to them and show them why they were misguided when they thought that the leadership actually cared about them?

No doubt one could argue that a major reason for the failure of Russian opposition politics is that society is so atomized and people would rather attack other like-minded individuals over things they did in the past rather than respect the fact that they made a change in their lives.  Would it really be better if all these people just stayed home and continued to support the government?  It reminds me of the damned if you do, damned if you don’t attitude in American politics. What’s that? Your job doesn’t pay a living wage? Maybe you should have gone to college! What’s that? You’re buried in student debt? Maybe you shouldn’t have gone to college if you couldn’t afford it!  AMERICA!

The next story is from the “You have got to be shitting me” file, and it comes to us from the tiny non-country of “Novorossiya.” It’s fairly noteworthy that many of the local supporters of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics are quite elderly.  Well if they were expecting pensions from their new, unelected leaders, they can go fuck themselves according to the guy who was made premier of the Donestk Republic by a citizen of Moscow.

Alexander Zakharchenko told his citizens that they should ask Kyiv to pay their pensions, since they paid taxes to Ukraine all these years. That’s right, they tried to create their own country and refused to fully disarm and integrate into Ukraine, but Kyiv is still responsible for the pensions of people who are supposedly citizens of a separate country.  Okay.

Apparently some days before in the “Lugansk Republic,” not to be confused with a traditional republic where you vote for people who supposedly represent your interests, a peaceful demonstration of citizens demanding pensions and unpaid salaries was forcibly driven off by militiamen. In the process, shots were fired to disperse the crowd of unarmed fifth columnists, who had the audacity to demand that their new “government” actually function like a state.  Fortunately, their were no casualties.

I offer these two examples for those lying Team Russia fans, Eurasianists, and RT lovers who present Russia and Novorossiya as an alternative to neo-liberal capitalism and in some cases, a step towards socialism.  This is a “state” where unelected armed men, many from a different country, drive workers and pensioners away with gunfire when the demand their benefits and salaries.  This is a “state” which forcibly separates from another state, then tells the people who supported it that they should appeal to the latter for their pensions.  I’d call it a fucking joke but it’s just not funny. This farce will do nothing but prolong the humiliation of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples for years to come.

Yeah, it’s STILL a thing

Hey remember when Maidan cheerleader Timothy Snyder told us how progressive Euromaidan was?  Well, about that.  Had this happened in Russia, it would be all over the news. But Ukraine now supposedly supports “European” values, ergo the story only gets coverage from interested news outlets.  I’m thrilled that Ukrainian voters rejected the far right at the polls, but if they want to be seen as anything other than backward nationalists no different from those they are fighting with in Eastern Ukraine, they had better reject these politics in society as well.

America Without BS II: The Revenge of Bullshit

Apparently the American conservative press has developed a unique new method of lying. Basically you use misleading headlines and all the distortion you can cram into the story, but at some point you put the truth in there, in spite of the fact that it easily refutes the story’s thesis. “See, I wasn’t lying because in the third paragraph I included the quote which tears the whole story apart.” I guess that’s how it works.  Anyway, the thing that prompted this was a story from something called The Daily Signal, via Fox News. Are you ready for your manufactured bullshit outrage of the week?

THE STORY SO FAR…

A heroic former Marine and Iraq war vet is banned from school property after objecting to his daughter being forced to write a three page paper on the five pillars of Islam.  

Outrageous! I’m really angry now! What a travesty! What injustice! Oh…Wait…No. Turns out that once again, the assignment on Islam is actually part of a world history curriculum, and the assignment has a far wider scope than the pillars of Islam.  Here’s a quote from school’s spokesperson.

“The particular unit in question at La Plata High School is on the formation of Middle Eastern empires in which students learned the basic concepts of the Islamic faith and how it, along with politics, culture, economics and geography, contributed to the development of the Middle East. Other religions are introduced when they influence or impact a particular historical era or geographic region.”

Hmmm…That sounds a bit different than “teaching Islam.”  Apparently American conservatives need a special guide on what constitutes “teaching Islam” and what does not.  Let me help them out a bit.

THIS IS TEACHING ISLAM

THIS IS NOT TEACHING ISLAM

When I was in high school we learned about things like the Reformation, the creation of the Anglican church, and the different Christian sects who sought freedom in the New World. Obviously there was no way to learn about these things without touching on the differences between the theological beliefs of Catholics and Protestants. None of this constitutes teaching Protestantism or Catholicism, however. I don’t understand why this is such a difficult concept for these people. Oh wait, I just remembered these people are ignorant morons. I guess I understand completely.

The article saves the worst for last, when the father’s wife tries to excuse her husband’s behavior.

“The people do not understand what he endured when he was over in Iraq,” she said. “[H]e lost friends, and he lost brothers and sisters to these people.”

“…these people.”

“…these people.”

“…these people.”

Yup, I read that correctly. Apparently this poor man lost buddies to the soldiers of the Rashidun or Umayyad caliphates. Do I need to say anything more on the topic of associating 1.5 billion people with some Iraqi insurgents? Yeah, I think I do. See there’s a lot of Dutch people who can say they lost loved ones to “those other people.” You know- Christians. After all, in all likelihood it was downed by a bunch of fanatics who can’t shut up about Orthodox Christianity, ergo they represent all Christians everywhere.

If you’re a Fox News viewer who stumbled on this article by some horrible mistake, let me make this clear to you. I’m very sorry but your children need to be educated in history. Don’t worry, our public schools and textbook publishers will try to make this as bland, boring, and uninformative as possible, but it’s still an essential part of the curriculum. Religion, indeed some religions other than yours, played an important role in history, politics, and even geography. Therefore sometimes your precious wittle snowfwakes may be required to, brace yourselves, learn about a faith other than your religion, the one true faith, i.e. non-denominational, independent, Southern four-square Baptist. I’m very sorry.  Oh wait. I’m not.

Updates

Some of you readers have probably noticed a lack of on-topic posts lately. I haven’t seen much remarkable news lately, but more importantly I’ve been busy with work, the gym, eating to sustain those gains, and now martial arts. Luckily we’ve got a bullshit made-up holiday coming up next week and I plan to use that time to create a lot of content for the blog and the Russian Tuesday podcast. So just keep in mind that the lack of updates is in no way due to laziness. I’m either making money or training myself to be better able to choke people out and take their wallets, which is also a money-making enterprise of sorts.

In the meantime, I recommend reading Natalia Antonova’s article regarding the recent Ukrainian parliamentary elections. There has been some good news, namely that parties like the far right-wing Svoboda failed to gain any seats. This actually constitutes a loss for them, as previously they had seats. It’s also refreshing any time you see someone actually acknowledge Svoboda, instead of pretending that the Ukrainian far-right is solely represented by the more marginal Praviy Sektor. For the moment though, it seems Svoboda has been checkmated in parliamentary politics.

As I have remarked before, however, there is a sort of national myth which still prevails in Ukraine, and it provides ample soil in which radical nationalists grow. Of course it doesn’t help when corrupt, chauvinistic Russia deliberately associates itself with symbols of the Soviet Union, the victory over fascism, and socialism. Long ago I wished that the Russian government would simply cast away that mask and openly acknowledge its love of Tsarism, authoritarianism, and reactionary politics, but sadly they still make use of Soviet symbols and history, twisting their meaning and sullying them in the eyes of people living in the shadow of the Russian Federation.  Hopefully Ukraine will start to see the flaws in this national myth, discard it, and with it stop tolerating backward nationalists who live in an early 20th century fantasy land. Ukraine is torn between two capitalist powers. Only socialism or at least a very progressive social democratic system can improve the lives of Ukrainians.  Ukrainian success is also crucial to regaining its lost territories.

As for me, it is very difficult to come out in support of the blue and gold. I want to, but I simply cannot lend my unqualified support to a country which arms nationalist thugs and promotes a radical anti-Communist, anti-socialist right wing myth in place of a national history. If it’s wrong when Russia does it, it’s wrong when Ukraine does it too. Obviously as Ukrainian society seems to be turning on those elements, the football hooligans, the Bandera lovers, and the falsifiers of history who insist that only Ukrainians should be allowed to interpret Ukrainian history, my views change as well, but I’m still waiting to hear a more definitive “fuck you, nationalist scum” from Ukrainian society. Till that happens, my support for Ukraine is merely support for international law against aggression and illegal annexation. Incidentally, things which until recently Vladimir Putin used to condemn.

Drinking game

Here’s a fun drinking game. Read this article about the parliamentary elections in Ukraine and take a drink every time you see the word “Europe” or “European.”  Depending on what you’re drinking, you may end the article with a decent buzz.

Some other highlights include one person repeating the claim that Ukraine has broken with her Soviet past, a favorite meme of Maidan supporters and their well-wishers. Of course they haven’t broken with backward, early 20th century nationalism which is far more regressive than the USSR’s ideology, but that’s okay because the most important thing in this crisis-ridden economy is blaming other people for your problems and staying as far away from socialism as you can. Hence the rise of right-wing politics all over Europe and Russia.  Every time nationalists have had any significant influence on Ukraine, the results have been awful. The last time costs Ukraine valuable territory, but some people simply do not learn.

If this sounds like I’m putting all the blame on Ukraine, ask yourself as to why right-wing nationalism is tolerated in Ukraine, while the media condemns it in Russia. After all, Russians also seem to be breaking with their socialist past and embracing a neo-imperialist ideology.  Had Maidan not tolerated right-wing nationalists and instead aimed to unite all people of the country, Russia wouldn’t have found a willing fifth column to support its irredentist schemes. Now Ukraine is likely to be a more or less divided country for generations to come. The idea that a European Union association agreement will do anything to reverse that process at this point is simply laughable.

America Without BS

So I was browsing the headlines of Yahoo News and found this. Note the headline, which reads:
Massachusetts Father Mad Just Because Public School Teaches ‘There Is No God But Allah.’ Now this would be a flagrant violation of the 1st Amendment, were it not for the fact that the slightest examination of the article and its accompanying photo reveal that the school did not in fact “teach there is no God but Allah.”  In other words, Massachusetts father is an idiot, and the Daily Caller is apparently staffed by ignorant morons.

If one watches Fox New, there’s always some manufactured controversy about how Christians are supposedly persecuted because some atheist group forced their local school board to follow the pesky Constitution. In nearly all these cases, anyone with a gram of reasoning capability can easily surmise that the same people claiming persecution would blow their stacks if a Muslim group came into their kids’ school and put up a picture of the Kaaba or some other equivalent to the things Christians always want to see in public schools.  Just take a look at this video and tell me you don’t think these people would shit bricks if Muslims wanted to put up their own religious plaque in their local school.

This case in Massachusetts would seem to vindicate this claim, except in this case it wasn’t a matter of Muslims trying to bring Islam into the school. The article’s author goes to great lengths to conceal the fact that the passage in question, which is pretty unambiguous in spite of their attempt to crop out as much context as possible, clearly refers to the beliefs of Muslims, using part of the adhan or call to prayer as a summation of that belief. It could have been more concisely presented in the shahada, the Muslim statement of faith which anyone wishing to convert to Islam must pronounce: “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah(God), and Muhammed is his servant and prophet.”  In any case, it is clear from the photo in the story that the book in question does not “teach Islam,” but rather it is a history book explaining the beliefs of Muslims.

It is clear beyond any shadow of doubt that efforts were made either by the author or the editor to conceal the true nature of what happened at this school. The author ignorantly says the book’s passages about Mohammed are “rah-rah,” as in supportive of Mohammed, and that the book claims the pagan Meccans used to kill baby girls before they converted to Islam after the Muslims conquered that city. Well I’m very sorry, Daily Caller, but those claims about Mohammed reported by the history book in question are indeed true, including the claim about female infanticide. Infanticide was commonly practiced in many European cultures, along with human sacrifice, until the spread of Christianity in many places. The story about Mecca becoming a corrupt and lawless place until Islam took over is essentially true and agreed upon by all scholars in the field. Of course in reality, Islam has failed to fully eliminate many pre-Islamic practices all over the world, and in many cases it has been twisted to justify such tribal or traditional practices. The fact that Islam was overwhelmingly positive for the Arab peoples is beyond debate, however.

As for the question of a pro-Islamic slant, this is simply nonsense.  Mohammed, much like Jesus, was a reformer. He appears in a decaying society with a new message and originally the effect is very positive. Of course eventually Islam, like Christianity, turned into the religion of a state and later an empire. That’s when the spiritual doctrine gets shackled to the needs of the ruling class.  In any case, I doubt this father would have been angered by a historical passage which read thus: “During the reign of Tiberius, a man named Jesus of Nazareth preached a message of peace, charity, and a personal connection to God. After being crucified, Jesus’ followers claimed he rose from the dead, and that his sacrifice on Earth would bring eternal life to anyone who believed in him. This belief can be seen in the Biblical passage John 3:16…”

This is not teaching Christianity. This is teaching about Christianity. Ditto for that history book text on Islam.  So what we have here is a deliberate attempt to create a scandal where one does not exist. The lie begins with the headline. It’s basically “Dog bites man” when in fact nobody got bitten at all. Just something to keep in mind when we criticize the Russian press I guess.