Is America Lying, Delusional, or Racist?
I've gotta ask.
Note: I have not written or published anything in the past few weeks. For those who don’t know my history, I lived in Saint Petersburg, Russia for three years, spent two years as a columnist for a Russian magazine, and my life remains inextricably connected to that part of the world. I am close to, and care deeply about, many people whose lives have been impacted by the war in Ukraine. I’ve had many thoughts, and many things I’ve wanted to say about it, but haven’t. I am not a reactionary writer—so I had to think and research. And I didn’t want to put out unrelated content before acknowledging it. I write humor. I write to give people a sense of escapism. But there is no escape from this. And the funny thing about war is that there is nothing funny about war. So—I’ve figured out what I feel like I need to say. So, I’m going to say it and next week I’ll get back to the humorous essays.
So where was the condemnation? The outcry? The sanctions? The boycotts?
Russians are invaders. Americans are liberators. Ukrainians are heroes. Afghans are terrorists. Dead Ukrainians are innocent civilians. Dead Iraqis are casualties of war.
You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.
Russia and America are two sides of the same coin. How we label things has more to do with geography than reality. (“Special peacekeeping operation” sounds eerily similar to “Operation enduring freedom” doesn’t it?)
This doesn’t make what Russia is doing not an invasion, or their actions not atrocious, or the Ukrainians not heroes. What it does is bring to light—with a light so blinding few want to look at it—how little people care for “human life”—how narrowly America defines a “tragedy”.
All over the western world, people are flooding onto social media to support the invaded and lash out at the invaders. Oh! The empathy!
And so I have to ask. Are they delusional, lying, or racist?
The despicable rhetoric around letting “civilized” refugees into Europe aside, this is a sick joke—to put it mildly—and incredibly revealing, to put it accurately.
The idea that the whole world is turning against—and calling for violence, suffering, and death to—a nation of ordinary citizens (many of whom are risking their freedom to speak out against this war) because of one man’s crusade is staggering. And—if the world’s policy was to destroy the lives of the people within countries as a way to punish governments who start wars of aggression and kill civilians, I’d be on board.
But that’s not the policy. Because I’m American. And no one is holding me responsible for the dead children, broken lives, and destitution left behind as America used the Middle East as target practice for the past twenty years. No one is telling me to go suffer to the point where I have no choice but to rise up and cut off the president’s head. Because it’s not 1917. Because—for two stupidly obvious reasons: the world is racist and America excels at propaganda.
God, America must be so over-joyed to have an enemy that is big, and white, and scary, and familiar. Whew! If we had to keep demonizing brown people then maybe the world might get suspicious of our motives—or how we value human life. Because—I don’t know if you heard—human life has value no matter where they are from, what they believe, or what they look like.
I read an article recently about how the world is becoming “uncivilized”—the unacknowledged implication being: the west is becoming like the rest of the world. America didn’t create a world of peace, prosperity, and globalization, it created a world of haves and have nots where the have nots get the spotlight only on news cycles where they are being massacred by the west directly, or in western funded proxy wars.
If it were just hypocrisy (which it is) I would have to simply roll my eyes. But it isn’t. The western world has become a mob — amped on its righteous justified anger — never taking a breath long enough to wonder why they’ve never been angry like this before. Because it’s not as though these things haven’t been happening. A lot. But it’s been happening to “uncivilized” people. And little was said because we’re racist. When this war broke out, my first thought was, “Oh, my God! How could such a thing be happening? I need to help!” and my second thought was, “Holy shit, I’ve been racist, delusional, and lying to myself.”
Intentionally? No. Maliciously? No. Any less true—any less harmful? No.
And I sat back and waited for Americans to have their holy shit moment—and it hasn’t come. Instead we’ve turned immediately to hate, anger, fear, and righteous persecution.
And we’ve shut our eyes to the nightmares left in the wake of the American dream.
But who cares, right? We’ve got our enemy back.