I have often written in the past (or at least I’m pretty sure I have) that most of the time what pro-Kremlin Russians call “Russophobia” is bullshit. In almost all cases, the Russophobia they’re talking about is in fact a natural and logical reaction to Russia invading someone’s country, claiming their nationality and language are fake, and generally acting like imperialist assholes. This, of course, doesn’t mean there aren’t real examples of Russophobia, if defined as an irrational fear of all things Russian.
The first and most harmful incarnation of real-world Russophobia is the attitude held by Russia’s elite toward their own people. According to this attitude, the vast majority of Russians are passive cattle, lazy incompetent, and somewhat criminal. The whole country would descend into utter chaos without the rule of a strong leader and his elite. This is called Russian “civilization,” although for some reason the strong ruler and his elite always seem to prefer the fruits and sometimes surroundings of “degenerate” Western civilization, particularly London, New York, Miami…you get the idea.
The other type of real Russophobia is…well…this:
If you’re wondering what those enlightened, woke liberals are responding to, it’s this story:
First of all- this isn’t news, nor is it exclusive to Russians. Here’s an article about birth tourism in the Marianas islands from 2013. Birth tourism in the United States appears to be popular with the Chinese as much as it is with Russians (wealthy Russians, that is). Basically NBC News found a way to work the Trump/Russia angle in order to present an old story as news. They could have just as easily written about the global network of international dating sites, some of which are basically designed to help foreign men and women find a path to legal immigration via marriage.
Of course it’s not the story itself that is real Russophobia, but rather the reactions of some of the “woke liberals” who called Trump a bigot while clearly possessing the very same xenophobic nativist attitudes as his supporters. And just in case any of my Ukrainian readers think this doesn’t affect you- forget it. These are exactly the kind of people who say things like “Ukraine? Isn’t that like, a state of Russia or something?” All Slavs are “Russian” to these enlightened individuals, so you’re just as screwed whether your name is Oleg or Oleh.
Of course in reaction to the idiotic ravings of “Resistance” liberals about “little agents” being born in the US, I’ve seen some leftists bend over backwards to “apologize” to Russians as a whole. Don’t bother. This kind of gesture will just get picked up by low-level Kremlin propagandists and twisted for their purposes. It is enough to say that there are plenty of Russians inside and outside of Russia who reject the imperial myths and propaganda of the corrupt regime in the Kremlin, which is itself objectively anti-Russian and leading the country and its colonized peoples to inevitable chaos and destruction.
Sometimes folks who are not familiar with my background or work accuse me of Russophobia because I do things like make fun of vatniks– make no mistakes, however- being a vatnik, like supporting the Putinist regime in general, is a choice. To me, riffing on vatniks is no different from riffing on the vast demographic of American morons, many of whom are directly responsible for electing a complete and utter spongebrain clownshoe as president. In fact, in the past I’ve even made the argument that Russian vatniks are in many cases more intelligent and dignified than our homegrown self-proclaimed “patriot” class. In short, I make a distinction between Russians and their governments and over the years I have, to the best of my ability, tried to make my writing reflect this with terms like “pro-Kremlin” or “pro-Putin” instead of “pro-Russian.”
While Russian interference in the 2016 election is an established fact (debate surrounds the extent and efficacy of that interference), and the Trump family and campaign’s Russian connections do smack of conflict of interest and at least attempted shady deals, it is entirely fair to say that a significant portion of the American opposition to Trump has taken the basic facts and run them into the end zone of conspiracy theory for a touchdown of stupidity (yeah I haven’t been writing for a while, bear with me). The fervent hope that any day now the Russia investigation will reveal some smoking gun that magically makes Trump go away has made many of these people positively deranged. And now, it’s bringing out their racism as well. But of course that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise- they learned from mother.