By Kit Knightly (Off Guardian)
We don’t talk about racism much at OffG, except in meta-analyses of its political weaponisation.
A lot of the time “racism” is used by the establishment to attack people who pose a threat to the status quo (see: Jeremy Corbyn). Other times it is used to simplify complex political matters into good guys and bad guys.
The marketplace of ideas has become saturated with contorted attempts to turn everything into a simple question of race, to the point it has almost robbed the word “racism” of any meaning at all.
It’s always been pretty clear that beneath this ersatz outrage there lurks – ironically – some of the most ignorant and most unreconstructed racism currently being manifested anywhere.
The indignation, for example, among the woke, that Tolkien’s orcs are ‘obviously’ intended to represent black people (because orcs are stupid and violent), or that this mural must show Jewish bankers (because of the “hooked Jewish noses”) – only shows that the wokest middle class whites have an image of blackness as dumbly bigoted as any white supremacist.
So, it probably shouldn’t shock you – though it will – to realize one very potent reason the war in Ukraine is particularly upsetting is because it’s happening to white people.
Don’t believe me? Then take a look. From page to screen to social media the message has been loud and clear that this war is especially bad because it’s being waged in Europe on a population with “blond hair and blue eyes”:
A reporter on ITV News talked about the “unthinkable” happening: War “in Europe”, not “some developing third world nation”.
A CBS reporter talked about Ukraine being “civilised” and “European”, “not a place like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict for decades” and provoked this response –
Writing in the Telegraph, Daniel Hannan headlines Putin has “declared war on civilisation itself”, and mournfully intones…
They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. Ukraine is a European country. Its people watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts…War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It could happen to anyone.
Parochial ignorance can’t get much coarser can it?
It’s not just the Anglosphere either, here is a pundit in French television…
Another pundit from the same channel pointed out “We’re not talking here about Syrians fleeing…We’re talking about Europeans.”
This isn’t just stark racism. There is a disgusting amount of revisionism going on as well. They all mention the wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and “the third world” in general, without once saying how those wars started, or who started them.
Combine that with the references to “civilisation” and being “European”, and the message is clear that our wars are OK, because bombing brown people far away is not as bad as bombing blond people close to home.
This is real racism. Not the fake outrage-fuel kind, the literal deep-seated kind based on fundamental unquestioned assumptions that people of another race simply don’t matter as much as your own.
In fairness, it has been called out by a few mainstream outlets, including the Independent and the Guardian – here, and here….although neither of them mention the culpability of the west in starting these wars.
But there are other forms of racism happening in the Ukraine narrative that get even less acknowledgment
There’s the racism inherent in Ukrainian politics and the attempts by western commentators to deny or normalize it for political ends.
The region has a history of Nazism going back to at least World War II, when Ukrainian nationalist and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera allegedly took part in pogroms against Jews, Poles and Slavs.
Bandera is held up as a hero by some Ukrainians, and Banderite teachings are behind many neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, including Svoboda, Right Sector, Tryzub and C14.
These groups took a leading role during the Maidan coup, and in the ensuing civil war they formed into private militia groups to carry out military engagements with separatists in the east.
Petro Poroshenko would later formally incorporate these militias into the Ukrainian armed forces, including the infamous Aidar and Azov battalions.
Since the 2014 coup, neo-Nazi groups have carried out regular attacks on Roma people, who Reuters reported in 2018 face a “rise in mob justice”. The Ukrainian media literally described one such attack as a “gypsy pogrom”.
Since the Russians entered the war we’ve seen videos of Azov battalion soldiers dipping their bullets in pork fat to shoot at Chechen Muslims, or claiming they would execute POWs. They openly wear Nazi insignia.
In 2018, Israeli human right campaigners sent a petition to the Israeli government demanding they “stop arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine”, and in 2021 the Ottawa Citizen reported the Canadian government had been arming and training neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian military.
Since the Russian invasion, black and south Asian immigrants have been barred from fleeing the country, blocked from getting on trains, or even held at gun point.
In short, Ukraine has genuine neo-Nazi racists involved in both its government and military, operating with the full support of Western governments.
The MSM simply refuse to discuss this and barely even acknowledge it. They try to spin nazism into ‘nationalism’, they elide or rewrite the record of atrocities into mere ‘fog of war’ mutual brutality.
But it doesn’t stop there, because there’s a third type of racism involved in the whole Ukraine narrative, and it’s potentially the most shocking and dangerous of all.
The smug ignorance that permits our white wokeists and media class to be some of the greatest racial bigots of our time finds its apogee in Russia.
There’s a strain of deep unthinking Russophobia that taints all coverage of Eastern Europe and beyond, and has done for decades, if not centuries.
How about this…
And this isn’t Svoboda talking. This is supposedly educated, sophisticated and nuanced western opinion.
Russians can be reached if basic moral principles are made clear to them. Russians do not share the ethical heritage of the West, but moral intuition exists everywhere, and is able to be inspired.”
The idea that Russia – or Russian people – are de facto “thugs” with no “ethical heritage” who don’t “value human life” as we do is not just acceptable amongst our informed intelligentsia, it’s mainstream – a given.
The same, to a certain extent, extends to China, all variations of Edward Said’s “orientalism”. So you see headlines like this in the Washington Post:
Civilized nations’ efforts to deter Russia and China are starting to add up
Our media and political class are as ignorantly racist as any small time bigot who refuses to buy from the corner shop run by an Asian family, as patronisingly parochial as Victorian colonials talking about ‘civilizing’ the natives.
They can become Brown Shirts too with frightening speed.
Remember after the Skripal poisoning, when prominent journalists were calling for Russian kids to be kicked out of British schools, or attacking people for having a Russian wife?
Back then British journalists working for Russian TV stations were openly called “traitors” on the BBC, and some Guardian journalists joined a Labour MP to hire a bus and drive all around London pointing out which buildings are owned by Russians.
If you’re so inured to Russophobia that doesn’t sound racist to you, imagine they drove around London pointing at apartment blocks and businesses and saying “that one is owned by a Jew! And so is that one!”
Not pretty, is it?
It was bad back then, and it’s already worse now.
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the UK’s Labour party who seems to think wearing a cheap blue ‘working class’ suit is an adequate substitute for any real concern for social injustice, has said any MP who sympathises with Russia will be suspended.
Yes, they are probably corrupt oligarchs, but seizing private property from individuals based on nothing but their nationality is a very, very slippery slope.
Apparently, the Czech government is actually considering making it a crime to support Russia’s actions.
Jeremy Vine suggested on UK TV that anyone who “puts on a Russian uniform”, actually deserves to die:
Would he have said that about British troops in Iraq? Or Israeli troops in Gaza? Or US troops…well, everywhere? Of course not.
But Russians…well, they’re not like us are they. They don’t have real emotions. Kill a Russian soldier and you’re doing the world a service.
This is not to say that Russia (or China) are just the hapless victims of fascist Imperial violence. Putin’s government went along with the Great Reset agenda, after all. We can speculate all we want about why, but they definitely did it. But that’s another debate for another time and another article.
My point is that under the thin veil of wokeness our society is becoming the most racist, fanatical and intolerant it has been for decades. Dangerously so.
The Lockdown Left beat down freedom fighters and hide from their hypocrisy by calling them “white supremacists”. Projecting what they are onto those they hate.
In the past two years we have seen the maskless and unvaxxed mocked, abused, denied basic human rights and dehumanised in the press.
In an image of dreadful symmetry, some shops in Germany are putting up signs in their windows claiming “supporters of Putin will not be served here”, right alongside their “no mask, no service” warnings.
Unpersoning is now the norm. Racism is sanctified by twisting it into patronizing ‘inclusiveness’.
This is incredibly dangerous. When you have trained a society to be intolerant, bigoted and ignorant, mobilizing them to hate your chosen target is not hard to do.
That hate will be as violent as it is undiscriminating and, as Orwell wrote, can “be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.”
We should all be concerned, because in every sense that matters WE in the Woke Western lands are the Nazis now.