We feel this qualifies as the single most hilarious headline on an article about Russia that we’ve ever seen: “Yes, Americans hate on Russia too much. This ‘Daily Show’ segment proves it.”
The headline appeared over a piece by The Washington Post‘s “foreign policy blogger” Max Fisher.
It’s so hilarious because (1) the “evidence” of the author’s conclusion comes exclusively from a frivolous TV comedy show and from leading Russia hater Julia Ioffe, who’s quoted in the body of the piece, and because (2) Fisher himself had viciously bashed Russia just a couple of days earlier. Twice, One of his key quotes: “Maybe it’s not so surprising that Americans would be sour on Russia.”
There’s just something so amazingly sublime about an American who clearly knows absolutely nothing at all about Russia getting his information from a TV comedy and then purporting to illuminate “ignorant” Americans about the country after doing himself exactly what he’s now found it possible to criticize, and not noticing. It’s rolling-on-the-floor, good-times-for-all hilarious!
There’s so much ignorance in the author’s text it’s hard to know where to begin.
(1) Fisher finds it somehow laudable that the ‘Daily Show’ reported the fact that Russians don’t know about famous Russian villains in U.S. popular culture. He thinks this proves the U.S. is too hard on Russia. Exactly the opposite is true. Russians have given Americans many, many valid reasons to fear and dislike them, from providing support to Hezbollah terrorists to aiding U.S.-hating regimes like Iran, Syria and Venezuela to choosing to hand unchecked power to proud America-hating KGB spy named Putin. Maybe if Russians knew how much they’ve antagonized the powerful USA, they’d change their ways.
(2) Fisher writes: “The popular American treatment of the Olympic games in Sochi drives home how unsympathetic Americans can be toward Russia, and makes this a perfect moment to call attention to that habit.” Incredibly, Fisher doesn’t stop for a second to review Russian treatment of Americans. If he knew anything at all about Russian popular culture, he’d know it demonizes the USA and that Russian politics demonize it even more, going all the way back to Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s demand that the USA surrender Alaska.
(3) He writes: “When the opening ceremony featured a song by the celebrated Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, for example, many Americans seemed eager to point out that he was gay, as if those homophobic Russians would be unaware of this fact or must all support the country’s anti-gay laws.” But Russians are unaware that Tchaikovsky was gay, because this fact like many others are suppressed in the Russian education system. It’s totally outrageous that Fisher would claim they are not without even trying to document a source. Russia is engaged in a furious crackdown on homosexuals because of its benighted ignorance about them, and Fisher is rationalizing this.
(4) He writes that foreign journalists didn’t criticize China’s human rights record as much as they are doing to Russia “even though the then-ongoing crackdown on Tibetan rights activists was arguably far more severe than anything happening in Russia today.” Is Fisher really unaware of the savage litany of murders of Putin’s political opponents and critics? Does he know that Russia has murdered more journalists (like him) than almost any other country, and far more than China ever dreamed of doing? Is he really suggesting that Russia should get a free pass on human rights atrocities if China got one? Did he even try to look for coverage criticizing China during the games, which was in fact abundant? Does this “journalist” care about facts at all?
(5) He writes that there is “no countervailing narrative in the United States that maybe we’re too hard on the Russians.” Here at last, he finally admits that this is “also a product of President Vladimir Putin’s own government, which after his disputed 2012 reelection and the ensuing protests has sought to whip up nationalistic sentiment.” But is he really unaware of the vast array of Russia-funded media being pumped out on a daily basis? He’s never watched Russia Today? He’s never seen the Russia Beyond the Headlines supplement in the New York Times? Has he ever heard of Professor Stephen F. Cohen, whose drumbeat of pro-Russia, anti-US screeds at The Nation magazine is endless? Simply amazing stuff.
(6) Amazingly, Fisher openly admits that Russian officials are telling brazen anti-American lies to the Russian people about such issues as Afghanistan yet he does not directly criticize Russians as he does Americans nor does he call for any changes in Russian policy. He cannot point to anyone in Russia who is challenging these hostile anti-American attitudes towards the USA, yet he does call upon Americans to “question their views of Russia.” Apparently, Fisher is one of those people who view Russians as helpless children incapable of taking any adult responsibility, and who therefore must be led towards it by Americans taking unilateral action. Needless to say, that is the road to ruin.