Revisiting Godwin - Not All That Glitters Is A SwastikaWell, great. Now my Sunday's ruined...
This is a long read, so drink plenty of water and take bathroom breaks. Here goes.
Those of you who know me are aware that I've been following the events in Ukraine pretty closely, if for no other reason than to understand the delicate situation that's been developing around the Euromaidan in Kiev. And it is indeed a very delicate situation, which has only become exacerbated by Russia's alleged
introduction of special forces into various Moscow-friendly areas of Ukraine, such as Crimea. As a Russian expat, I have no particular sentimental or ideological ties to the current political state of my former motherland, and have been watching the events of the last four years in an emotional state that most closely approximates a mix of bemused fascination, disgust, and scientific curiosity. To put it bluntly, Putin is a non-entity in my daily activities.
However, you see this shit in the picture below? Do you see it? Do you motherfucking see it?
And, upon seeing it, are you aware of the implications it carries? Clearly, this was something that was put together by someone who is:
b) An idiot
3) Without any frame of reference on the worldwide socio-political climate for the past hundred fucking years.
There can, quite literally, be no other explanation. Why? Let's look at the specifics.Godwin's What Now?
First of all, let's revisit Michael Wayne Godwin, American writer and attorney who, in 2010, coined the so-called Godwin's Law of Nazi Analgies. This law, crudely compressed, basically states that eventually, any online discussion will compare someone to a Nazi (http://bit.ly/1fKRWK0
). What that means for you and me, then, is that ultimately any person, no matter how well-meaning, will invariably be distilled to humanity's most base instincts on an infinite timeline. Which means you, me, or anyone else can basically be compared to a fascist dictator given enough time to present a case using only the most tenuous associations. Yaaay internet!
So, let's take a look at this image below. It claims that Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland region in 1939 (and not 1938 as the image below claims, because even a fucking first-year history student would be able to tell you that while Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement in September 1938, Germany physically invaded that part of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, you cunting doltcicle [http://bit.ly/1bXDm4h
]) is in so many ways identical like Putin's introduction of armed troops into the Crimea.
Infallible logic, except for a few key omissions. Let's take a look:
a) In the December 1938 elections, a full 97.32% of Sudetenland's adult population voted for the Nazi Party (NSDAP). This meant that not only was the Sudeten region responsible for over 17% of pro-Nazi votes in the elections that year, but it was also one of the most populous pro-Nazi areas in the region. So, the inclusion was basically a political formality on the part of the powers in control: ethnically, the Sudeten region was mostly comprised of ethnic Germans, and only geographically belonged to Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Austria. So Germany did indeed
have a legitimate interest in the acquisition of Sudetenland - at least from their perspective, which would explain the introduction of armed troops as they passed on their way into Poland. At the time of the transition, there were no riots in the streets, no trenches being lit on fire in front of the presidential palace, and no snipers shooting civilians and soldiers. The transition of Sudetenland from local authorities to German rule was about as peaceful as it was going to get in World War II.
[I should regrettably note, however, that immediately following
the transition, over 300,000 Jews in the Sudeten region were persecuted.]
b) Putin's so-called invasion of Crimea is in no way similar. True, pro-Moscow sentiment runs high in that region, but the situation is drastically different. Crimea is but a small part of the entirety of Ukraine (http://bit.ly/1dPPU9i
), and is governed by a pro-Moscow politician. Similarly, until the ousting of Yanukovich, the political hierarchy was staunchly supportive of Russia's policies towards Ukraine. The discontent ran high primarily among the rank and file civilians, with a few agitators taking more active, drastic measures to occupy the Euromaidan (according to Wiki, the demonstrations begain with a core of 2,000 agitators: http://bit.ly/1cvcUtX
). So, in effect, the situations are polar opposites.
The introduction of limited numbers of Russian (allegedly) troops into Crimea, while in breach of international protocol, was in no way
similar to the mass-scale occupation and eventual genocide of Sudetenland by Hitler. In fact, it doesn't even come close. The only thing these two actions have in common is that they are both semi-sanctioned introductions of armed personnel on a territory where nationalist sentiment runs high.
Which of course makes sense why someone would think Putin was acting just like Hitler. I mean, of course! Even though they are completely divergent ideologically, have committed armed personnel to their respective regions for diametrically opposed reasons, and oh, one committed FUCKING GENOCIDE and the other didn't would naturally give the Internet all the reason they need to compare Russia's president to Hitler. Peas in a pod, those two. And speaking of Putin...
So, I like to think of myself as not an idiot. I know, maybe it's a stretch. But I kind of get the feeling that maybe - just maybe - a Russian president, who was born in 1952 and holds strong ties to old Soviet and post-Soviet tenets would be not enamored with the idea of being compared to a Nazi rabble rouser from Austria. After all, it's not like these two countries fought on opposite sides of a bloody, protracted, and costly war that set the ideological boundaries for the Western world for, oh, I don't know, FIFTY FUCKING YEARS AFTERWARDS?
But you know, that's all conjecture. Let's just take a look at the statistics.
a) The Holocaust.
So, it's this little thing, you've probably never heard of it. If you're completely in the dark about it, basically it was Nazis rounding up six or seven million Jews from all over Western and Eastern Europe, and putting them into camps to die of starvation, work, exposure, medical experimentation, or just plain lack of desire to see another day. No big deal, just that many people. And sure, Hitler himself wasn't directly responsible for slitting each of the 6-7 millions of throats, but he sure as shit signed the order to do so!
b) The depopulation of Eastern Europe.
More than four million Soviet, Polish, and Yugoslav civilians lost their lives in similar fashions to the Jews discussed above. Similar situation: Hitler may not have murdered them himself, but for all the technicalities of signing orders, he might as well have.
c) The actual war.
Three million Soviet POWs, and anywhere from 8.7 to 14 million dead in the actual fighting.
Now, let's take a look at Putin:
Holocaust? Nope. Killing jews? Nope. Killing gypsies, disabled, mentally challenged, and minority groups? Nope. True, he was responsible for the deaths and injuries of 1,300 Georgian soldiers back in 2008 during the Russo-Osetian War, and maybe - MAYBE
- he was responsible for those apartment bombings, which indirectly lead to the scorched earth campaign in Chechnya and the 16,300 combatants who died there. And yes, there was collateral damage. But from a purely motivational standpoint, Putin never made targeting civilians and depopulating regions the primary aim of his wars.
Let that sink in for a second, and then get back to me on whether or not you still think these two guys deserve to be in the same picture.The O'Reilly-Coulter-Hannity-Beck Factor.
You yanks are a hilarious bunch. You cry out for democracy, freedom, and equality around the world, but you only take the time to understand the subtleties and nuances of everything in the broadest strokes and the most Crayola colors imaginable. Terrorists attacked New York City? Bomb everyplace in the Middle East until there aren't two stones left standing one atop another!!! China violates human rights in Tibet? Fucking assholes! How dare
they attack those peaceful Buddhist monks? They must hate the color orange. Also freedom. Hell, you even have trouble sorting through your own garbage with Wall Street and domestic politics without looking at everything through black-and-white goggles.
And I say this as someone who lived the majority of his life in the United States.
Look, before you start hurling stones of protestation at Putin as a civil liberties-violating, warmongering boogeyman, maybe you should examine the parallel histories of the United States and Russia. And maybe, just maybe, in the process, you will discover that they are absolutely nothing alike, and therefore all your protestations and insults and comparisons of Vlad to Adolf only do you a disservice, because they show how truly little you know of history, culture, and the world.
So, to recap, the popular opinion of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin in the West is as follows:
a) he's ex-KGB
b) he violates civil rights
c) he's a scary motherfucker who would love nothing more than to bring back the Soviet regime of old and stomp across Europe with red jackboots.
That is, until you see this quote:
"People in Russia say that those who do not regret the collapse of the Soviet Union have no heart, and those that do regret it have no brain. We do not regret this, we simply state the fact and know that we need to look ahead, not backwards. We will not allow the past to drag us down and stop us from moving ahead. We understand where we should move. But we must act based on a clear understanding of what happened." [http://bit.ly/1db9HDd
And that's a quote that was in "Call of Duty 4!" So surely, even Americans must know about it.
In any case, Putin is hardly the next Stalin. He has a very clear agenda, and he accomplishes that agenda from a very hardline standpoint. Because the violation of civil rights in Russia is less of an issue than it is in the West (Russians notoriously liberal when it comes to our interpretation of the Geneva Convention, by the way, and I know this very well, so please save your bleeding-heart liberalism for someone who is a fucking cretin), its omission is considered to be an acceptable loss in the combined struggle towards the resuscitation of Russia's failing economy which, by the way, we have Boris Yeltsin to thank for.
I bring up Yeltsin for a very important reason. He was Russia's first democratically elected president, and he instated several important economic reforms during his presidency, among them a free market and representative democracy. He did this in the hopes of establishing closer ties to the West, and creating a Russia that mirrored the West in more ways than just popular culture. In a way, it was a smart move, because it opened Russia's eyes to a world outside of the Iron Curtain hung over it by the Politburo for damn near 70 years. But it also seriously backfired when a nation completely unaccustomed to freedom was given pretty much complete freedom to do whatever the fuck they wanted.
And so they did. And then this happened: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_Russian_constitutional_crisis
No, really, read about it. It's good shit. I'll wait.
OK, done? Great. So, now you have some context for why Putin was such a popular post-Yeltsin candidate. He was young, progressive, energetic, photogenic, and, perhaps most importantly, unconcerned with outside opinions when it came to getting shit done.
For lack of a better term, he was an authoritarian ruler.
Right. You know who else was authoritarian in Russia?
This guy: http://bit.ly/1fAaCcQ
And this guy: http://bit.ly/1mOK29O
Aaaaaand this lady: http://bit.ly/1hxmK3y
And they were all successful monarchs, revered as unto fucking Gods and saints, and known to this day as the backbone of the Russian empire. Is it starting to fucking make sense now?
Plainly put, like Afghanistan, Vietnam, and, to some extent Latin and South America, Russia is incapable of democracy. It isn't in our blood. We've lived under authoritarian rule since 882 AD - that's about 4.75 times longer than the United States has been in existence.
So, really, Americans lecturing Russia about democracy and due process is a bit like a five year old telling an adult man all about how to pleasure women. And yes, you can get on your soapbox and tell me that democracy is older than the United States, but let me also be the first to remind you, if that is the case, that Greece and Rome, which practiced direct democracy (which is quite unlike the representative democracy that the U. S. claims as its form of governance), also had no problem suspending democractic rule to appoint a protector in times of crisis. That's not even something you get from history textbooks, that's something you get from "The Dark Knight" (2008).
shut the fuck up. Please. It's embarrassing enough as it is.To conclude.
Dear person who made the graphic below:
How fucking dare
Seriously, the ignorance demonstrated by the image below is just staggering. Not only is your historical, cultural, and political knowledge woefully lacking, but the conflict which you so glibly refer to as the Sudetenland of 2014 is still ongoing. By making the most tenuous of connections between Putin and Hitler, you not only dishonor the nearly 1200 years of Russian culture, but you also dishonor the memories of 80 people who died under sniper fire on the cobblestones of the Euromaidan, and who knows how many more during the remainder of this skirmish. Every single one of those people, be they Russian or Ukrainian, pro- or anti-Moscow, has had a relative who died at the hands of that mass-murdering psychopath fuck Hitler, and you compare the two as though they are equals?
Go fuck yourself. Shame on you.