No matter one’s opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine, it appears that the famous “tolerant liberal West” are using the war to express their most disgusting Russophobic racism and dehumanisation of the Russian people. With Russian troops pouring into Ukraine, Western liberals excitedly used this as an opportunity to cancel Russian art, history and cultural contributions to humanity. This is occurring at humiliating proportions and has a more dangerous dimension as even simple Russian shop owners in Western Europe are being targeted in racist attacks.
Russia has already been stripped from hosting the Champions League football final and Formula One’s Russian Grand Prix - with much hypocrisy. The Grand Prix did not condemn Russia but cited the “impossibility” of holding the race under the current circumstances. It now appears the event will be hosted in Turkey, where there is no “impossibility” for race organisers despite the country’s illegal occupation of Cyprus, Syria and Iraq.
This was followed by Russian and Belarussian athletes being banned from competing in the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympics. Although the International Paralympic Committee [IPC] announced that competitors from both countries would be permitted to take part, albeit under a neutral banner, this was not satisfactory for Ukrainian athletes who issued a joint statement accusing Paralympic bosses of “choosing bloodshed over principle.” Apparently for the Ukrainian athletes, even just the very presence of a Russian or Belarussian - no matter their political positioning or opinion of the Ukraine War, is enough to warrant complaints in evident racism. None-the-less, the IPC succumbed to the pressure and even flagless Russians cannot compete now.
However, it is not only in the sporting arena where Russians are being embargoed, targeted and restricted.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said Russia would no longer be allowed to participate in this year’s Eurovision song contest; Britain’s Royal Opera House cancelled a planned residency by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, one of the oldest and most prestigious ballet companies in the world; and the Ukrainian Film Academy has called for an international boycott of Russian cinema, including a ban on Russian films at international festivals.
Although banning Russians from participating in sports competitions and cancelling current events is an immediate response to the War in Ukraine, there are much darker undertones that aim to even smear and cancel “dead Russians.” What is meant by this?
On March 2, Italian journalist Alessandra Bocchi tweeted: “Italy’s main University in Milan just banned teaching Fyodor Dostoevsky because he’s a Russian writer. Dostoevsky was sent to a Siberian labour camp for reading banned books in Tsarist Russia. We are reaching levels of hatred and stupidity that I thought were never possible.”
Italy’s main University in Milan just banned teaching Fyodor Dostoevsky because he’s a Russian writer.
Dostoevsky was sent to a Siberian labour camp for reading banned books in Tsarist Russia.
We are reaching levels of hatred and stupidity that I thought were never possible.
— Alessandra (@alessabocchi) March 2, 2022
The University of Milano-Bicocca informed the Italian writer Paolo Nori on Tuesday night that his course on the author of Crime and Punishment had been cancelled “to avoid any controversy, in a moment of high tension.” Nori on an Instagram live video read the email and slammed the university's decision as “ridiculous”, saying “even dead Russians” are now the target of censorship in Italy.
Qui Paolo Nori racconta come la Bicocca gli abbia annullato un suo corso su Dostoevskij «per evitare ogni forma di polemica in quanto momento di forte tensione». Una roba tanto stupida e grave da superare le french fries rinominate freedom fries dopo l'11/9. pic.twitter.com/uLjxSkGcIe
— Paolo Mossetti (@paolomossetti) March 1, 2022
After the justified backlash, the course on Dostoevsky was approved to go ahead as originally planned and the rector of the university said he would be meeting Nori next week “for a moment of reflection.”
However, it is not only sports stars, entertainers, artists and dead authors who are being targeted, but even Russian students in France, Belgium, Czechia and other European Union countries where they have been expelled. The irony is that many of these Russian students are liberal and anti-Putin but are now being driven away by Western liberals from the liberal West.
This demonstrates that the so-called tolerant liberal West does not only have a hatred for Putin, but also for all Russian people, culture and art. After many years of normalising the demonisation of Russians in the media, the Ukraine War has provided the perfect opportunity for Russophobes to openly express their racism knowing that they will face little recourse.
None-the-less, no matter one’s opinion of Putin and the Ukraine War, this crisis has exposed the ugly head of Russophobic racism, something that has culminated for years in Western media and its political landscape, particularly during and after the so-called “Russiagate” incident.