Sunday, March 12, 2023

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao...

 I'm doing language cafes at a high school for Ukrainian refugees here in Tallinn, so they're on my mind a lot lately.  Obviously, you don't need to physically be around them to empathize with them, and I don't want this to sound like some sort of ridiculous hipster-ish "I care about the refugees on a much deeper level than you," but, I mean, it's only human for people to be especially moved by things that are personalized for them.  There's currently a photo display of refugees in the town square:

It is extremely moving, or such was my experience.

On another note, I have--or rather, had--a friend that I met when I was teaching in China, another teacher, from New Zealand.  Let's call him Jeff, on account of that's his name.  I knew he had generally leftist politics, but we didn't talk much about it.  No need to sweat the details.  But what I didn't realize until the invasion was that what he actually is, is a huge fucking tankie, which essentially just means an alleged leftist who believes that only the US can do imperialism.  In a previous generation, they would've been Maoists or Stalinists, but by some strange alchemical process, support for nominally leftist dictatorships has morphed into general support for dictators, all of whom are conceptualized as victims of the US.

The kernel of truth here is that, yes, the United States is responsible for a hell of a lot of evil around the world.  We have indeed installed and propped up the worst nightmare regimes imaginable, as long as they're sufficiently anti-communist.  You can and should criticize us for that, but when you go from that to actively supporting right-wing dictators...that is a problem.

Now, it would be one thing if this were just a matter of emphasis: I say "Putin is monstrous;" they say "no, US foreign policy is monstrous."  I would think it rather bizarre that they don't want to acknowledge the proximate problem here, but as long as we can agree on the central issue--the suffering of the Ukrainian people--then I don't hate them, even if I don't wholly understand them.  But that is extremely not it: instead, they like to paint the invasion as a positive good.  The most common justification you hear is "look, there are Ukrainian nazis!"  To which I say, yes, and there's also a legitimately-elected Jewish Ukrainian president.  So your point is...?  Yes, far-right nationalists are a problem in many if not all countries, but of Russia and Ukraine, only one of them is ruled by a far-right nationalist dictator.  To cite your opposition to far-right nationalists as a reason why an invasion by a far-right nationalist is good...that is just the most demented fucking thing I can imagine.

Anyway, that's who my former friend revealed himself to be.  His feed is just a toxic stew of conspiratorial innuendo and Jimmy Dore videos (but I repeat myself).  You might ask why I didn't unfriend him long ago; the answer is some mixture of inertia and gutlessness.  It's hard to cut off ties of friendship, but I definitely should have done.  That's on me.

So here's what I wrote regarding the above photo: "there's a rather gutting photo exhibit of Ukrainian refugees in Tallinn's Freedom Square.  There's no hell hot enough for Putin; on the other hand, I'm feeling proud of Estonia for its hospitality."  Jeff responded with something about how I'm not looking closely enough at the situation and my understanding is incomplete.  It made me so angry I couldn't see straight.  Just blinding rage.  The very idea of seeing a picture like this and thinking, the most important thing here and now is to defend the person who created these refugees...fuck the fucking fuck.  It's inhumane; it's fucking inhuman.  I expect right-wingers to be monsters, but to hear that kind of garbage from someone allegedly on the left...?  Well, harsh words were exchanged, and the point is, we're not friends anymore.  Which on some level I regret!  We did have some good times!  But there wasn't much choice.  My instinct in conflicts is always to be conciliatory, but there are some things you just can't compromise on.  Anyway, that particular story isn't very interesting; it was mainly just a vehicle to express my incredulousness that tankies are a thing.  

And also because, I have to admit, there IS a certain pleasing symmetry: the day after this fracas, I guested on Mark Severino's podcast Barks Remarks (the answer is: sometime in mid or late April! Be patient!), and it was just totally delightful in every way.  So, you know, lose a friend, make a friend.  It's the circle of life.  Hakuna matata.  I just can't wait to be king.


Blogger Pan MiluĊ› pontificated to the effect that...

Sorry to hear about your friend :(

We also have a LOT of refugees in Poland (almost 7 milions at this point, which is insane if you think about)

There is a sense of solidarity. As my mom said "When there was World War II no one was there help refugees from Poland so we have to be there for them". My publisher even printed comics in Ukrainian language and we where handing them to kids for free.

There are some individual assholes who will talk shit about the refugees but over all it almost felt like it was one thing that united people here... truth to be told it helps that people here in general hate Russia (the goverment that is) Being under their rule for a long time isn't something that left plesant memories. But it's interesting how all here are cool with German's after the events of WWII but Russia still boils a lot of bad blood to many.

In recent time the situation with Russia got a little "normalised" truth to be told, but at the same time perhaps it's better then the situation for first few months of the war where our entire Country was in paranoid fear (which I'm sure is what the Putin's bastards wanted)

As for "US being evil"... Just let me ausme no one thinks that. No one blame America for it's military actions - Just your goverment (hope it's understandable). We can seprate the two. At the same time people here are realy hope that in case Putin will go after Poland we can super-duper count on you guys to have our back.

While I pray this war will stop as soon as possible I do think this entire think was just humiliating for Russia and only prooves they aren't the military power they clame they are.

7:08 PM  

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