Reblogged from www.frontpagemag.com
March 6, 2015 by 29 Comments
The ballistic missile with Obama’s name on it, paraded in the streets of Moscow this Monday, was only an imitation – but the sentiment was genuine.
Looking like a gigantic allegorical suppository for the American president, the green twelve-foot rocket emblazoned with the hammer and sickle over a red star brought up Cold War memories of real intercontinental missiles the Soviet government would parade in Red Square as a vague threat to its enemies. There was no vagueness this time: in large print letters, the message on the rocket said, “To be delivered to Obama in person.”
The occasion was the Day of the Defenders of the Motherland – a big annual celebration of the creation of the Red Army in 1918 by Leon Trotsky. To be sure, Trotsky’s name had not been attached to this holiday ever since his removal from power and assassination by Stalin. Additionally, the country has since changed its name, borders, ideology, the system of government, and renamed the very holiday in question. Still, the holiday spirit runs strong, along with patriotic rallies, propaganda posters, and nationally televised bombastic military-themed concerts puffed up by a full roster of Kremlin-approved celebrities.
It’s also dubbed Men’s Day, as all Russian men and boys receive greetings and gifts from women and girls – a rather manipulative hetero-normative reminder that all male citizens belong in the army. In a way, this mirrors Women’s Day on March 8th – another originally communist holiday that comes twelve days later, when women and girls receive greetings and gifts from men and boys, as men volunteer to help around the house and do women’s work in the kitchen – which may also be seen as a hetero-normative reminder of a woman’s place on all other days of the year.
This year Ukraine officially canceled the celebration of Russia’s military holiday, belatedly joining other ex-Soviet republics that had suffered the wrath of the Red Army. In contrast, Vladimir Putin’s government has boosted the celebration even further, making February 23rd an official day off and using it to crank up the already excessive Russian patriotism.
With full support of the government-controlled media, national chauvinism is now spilling over the state borders, as gangs of armed “patriots” flock to eastern Ukraine, eager to show the uppity ukrops their place in Pax Russiana. Jingoism dominates Russia’s online forums and social media, as well as the streets and city squares, with rallies that support Putin, military adventurism, and Pax Russiana, while at the same time trashing everything non-Russian, especially America and Gayrope (a new Russian slur deriving from “gay” + “Europe.”) The stunt with the Obama-targeted missile is merely a small piece in the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle called Russia.
According to the Levada Center, a Moscow-based independent polling organization, America is seen negatively today by 74% of the Russian population (60% also have a negative view of Europe), and 69% believe the United States is a hostile nation. At the same time, after the break-up of the USSR in the early 1990s, only 10% of Russians viewed the U.S. negatively. What happened?
The Levada Center has registered four waves of anti-American and anti-Western sentiment in Russia – in 1999 (the war in Serbia), in 2003 (the war in Iraq), in 2008 (the war in Georgia), and in 2014 (the war in Ukraine), with today’s wave being the strongest in the last 20 years. Sociologists also believe that Russia’s public opinion is shaped largely by the government-run media, with more than one half of the respondents admitting they couldn’t form opinions independently.
It would be fair to say that every such wave of anti-Americanism in Russia (and to some extent around the world) has been orchestrated and paid for by the Kremlin’s powerful propaganda machine, which deploys two parallel narratives – one for the foreigners and one for domestic use. The domestic narrative is always a variation of the same formula:
“Once again, the Motherland is under attack from American imperialism. The West has always hated Russia. Out of sheer hatred they want to humiliate us and push Russia out of its traditional spheres of influence. To survive, our nation must unite around a strong leader and his party.”The leader is, of course, Vladimir Putin; the party is United Russia.