I strongly believe that there are Muslims in United States, who got truly integrated into American society, who accepted American values, American Constitution, American law. I have never believed that word “Muslim” might be equal to the word “terrorist”. I have never automatically associated Muslims with terrorism. But I am agianst emotions in politics. I do not believe politicians who play on people’s emotions. It reminds me of a kind of emotional blackmail, emotional sabotage. There is something dishonest in ostentatious expressing emotions by politicians. At once one may suspect them of PR tricks. Even though I must confess that the Mohammed Salman Hamdani’s story is really moving, but I am not politician, I have a right to display my emotions, I do not attend at a serious public debate. I think that ordinary people, ordinary citizens have more rights in this field. Politicans on hearings, participiating in this kind of public debates, do not have such a right. They are obliged to argue, to present their views in sensible, logic, extremely cold way. Emotions in such cases make debate useless, dishonest and a kind of a show, they do not lead to truth, which may be accepted by all participants.
Today I came across an interesting article by Amy Knight on Russia and North Caucasus. And since I have been working with refugees from that part of the world I resolved to write a short comment on this topic:
I have been working with refugees from Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia since July 2006 and met among them many people, who have never supported terrorist attacks. They just look for peace and possibility of normal life.
The problem of North Caucasus poses not only high rate of unemployment, so called “zachistki”(sweep operations), murders, but also illegal apprehensions, rapes, tortures, extremely interrogations. This is everydal life in North Caucasus. Ramzan Kadyrov obtained from Vladimir Putin cart balnche and can do all what he wishes. If he or his people will like a girl, the just take her, if they want to shoot to women who do not wear headscarves, they just do it.
Pushing Chechens, Dagestani or Ingush people towards terrorism – in my opinion – has two reasons: strategic interests of Russian government in North Caucasus and lack of interest of the Western World in this part of the world.
Let’s recall the first and the beginning of the second of the so called Chechen – Russian wars. Chechens fought for independent country, they even had a democratic, secular constitution. In the second war Aslan Maschadov was a moderate, relatively liberal president, who also fought for independence, not for muslim state. But the second world is much more pereceived as a war for Emirate of North Caucasus. Fundamentalist muslims started appearing in Chechnya, common people got to radicalize. It is no wonder. Each long, cruel war must demoralize and change people to the worse. Chechens got disappointed with Western World, they counted that this mytical Western World would support them, not in military way (even though some might have thought that even in a military way), but mainly with political measures. But id did not happen so. They felt abandoned by democratic world, international community and turned to the muslim fundamentalists. And fundamentalists understood that situation very well, they just waited for such course of the events.
I have no idea what may be the way to untie that real Gordian Knot. Addressing of unemployment, poverty may be not enough. As long as there are fighters in mountains and woods, “zachistki”, murders, tortures, illegal apprehensions will continue. It is not enough to give these people employment and money, there are young men who support muslim fighrers because of religious reasons and , whom you just cannot buy. And we should remember thar so many evil happned in North Caucasus and continues to happen that “blood revenge” so strongly rooted in Chechen society may never have an end. I hope I am mistaken.
I must confess that almost every day I start with reading American Magazine “The Atlantic“. Since I am not native English, American, Australian or Canadian speaker, I still improve my English by reading American or English magazines and books.
And today I came across an article by Jeffrey Goldberg – “Glenn Beck’s Jewish Problem“, in which the Author writes about a serious TV commentator who “has something of a Jewish problem”, and later on:
“This is a post about Beck’s recent naming of nine people – eight of them Jews – as enemies of America and humanity. He calls these people prime contributors to the – wait for it – “era of the big lie”.
Among those eight he enumerates “Edward Bernays, the founder of public realtions, and a nephew of Freud’s”.
I myself am not a big fun of PR, and may even agree that we live in an era of a big lie, but consideration of the more or less important political, social or economic matters through the prism of nationhood, in categories of the nations, does not make sense. We – as human beings – still do not learn from history, we are permanently incapble of drawing conclusions from mistakes made by our ancestors. But the truth is simple and trivial – the human nature in its deepest dimension, in its deepest core, is still the same for all individuals in all nations, taking of course into account all superficial differences and nuances being the results of our diverse cultural and religious background.
Blaming Jews for PR and contribution to creating “era of a big like” does make the same sense as blaming Jews for October Revolution in Russia, or Georgians for Joseph Stalin. It is a road to nowhere.
Let us also take into consideration that PR is used with great pleasure not only by Jews, but all other nations, I mean not also governments and politics. We may know, we may feel that PR is not always honest, but still see that our governments, our politics, our coprporations, our firms resort to it. I am not happy with that, but when I take the deeper insight into me, I realize that sometimes in my private, daily life I also resrot to my “small, private PR” in interpersonal relations, but in any case I do not blame Jews for it.
Of course, I do not want to say, that it is OK, but human beings are still fragile and weak. They will always fall and stand up, without the end.
And let’s try to answer following question: are there really any persons who do not use some “private PR” in thier daily lives? And whose the gulity?
Today I came across an interesting article – “Why western authors are in love with Mother Russia” by Andrew Miller, and resolved to write a comment below it, including my private and modest ideas concerning Russian literature:
A few years ago I read about one of my favourite Russian writers, that “he was closest to the truth about human being”. This sentence concerned Fiodor Dostoyevsky. And it is impossible to disagree with this statement, when one reads “Idiot” or “Crime and punishment”. In every of these books one is able to find himself/herself, to identify with some characteres. When I read Dostoyevsky or Turgeneiv I read it with all my nerves, it is not just work of the mind, but work of my whole being (my soul, my mind and body).
That is why I agree with following Author’s statement:
“Writers born elsewhere tend to be captivated first by the grandeur and reckless honesty of the great Russian authors (…)”
Russian writers do possess not only “reckless honesty”, but also – sometimes even heroic – courage to tell truth about human being’s nature. It is a kind of civil courage, which so often Western writers lack, with exception of Joseph Conrad, C.S. Lewis, or Jack London. They do not hide truth behind the curtian of courtesy, social conventions or political corectness. They show it with all its pain, suffering, ugliness, so that we get fed up with our reality, and do not see another possibility, apart from changing our inner, spiritual world.
With regard to another Author’s statement:
“Nick, my narrator, is sucked into Moscow during its greedy, oil-fuelled boom. He only finds out what sort of man he can be, perhaps has always been, when he lives in Russia.”
I think that in Russia we may feel in some sense “naked”, it is still a state, where one can feel as “pure”, “naked”, “raw”, “defenseless”, as it is only possible, where state, law, authority, social conventions do not prevent him/her from all evil human instincts existing in all human beings. In Russia there is a bare human being standing opposite omnipotent authority, simple people opposite corrupt officials or oligarchs. In such milieu all human stances, all human behaviours are sharper, more visible, distinguishable. If you are courageous, you are much more courageous than in Western countries. What is the price of courage in Great Britian, or Germany and what is the price of courage in Russia? You can answer this question, when you take into consideration, fate of such persons as Anna Politkovskaya, Natasha Estemirova, Nastia Baburova, Litvinenko, Chodorkovsky.
In Russia you have much better and more occasions to be decent or wicked, and when you decide to be decent you have much more to lose, than when you decide to be decent in France.
In other words, I think that in Russia, a person have much more possibilities to be more human, to be more real and true, than in other parts of Europe. And no wonder, that in such reality, great literature appears…
Lithuania appears to be one of the most successful countries among new member states of the European Union. Regardless of present difficulties connected with global crisis its economy manages to do realtively well. Its capital city – Vilnius – flourishes and continuously evolves into one of the most beuatiful cities in whole Europe. Of course as in case of majority of new European Union member states the contrasts and gaps between poor province and rapidly modernizing cities are easily noticeable.
My recent trip to Lithuania I resolved to devote to places related with Lithaunian statehood and its newest history. It is worth reminding that Lithuania regained its indepndence on 11 March 1990. On that day Lithuanian Parliament issued Declaration of Independence from Soviet Union. That act of courage cost lives of 14 civil people who were shot and run over by Soviet tanks near TV Tower in Vilnius in January 1991 (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2060552/posts) and 7 customs and police officers shot in July 1991 on the checkpoint in Medininkai on the Belarussian – Lithuanian border (http://adamkus.president.lt/en/one.phtml?id=2268, http://www.prokuraturos.lt/News/Medininkai/tabid/249/Default.aspx)
At present Medininkai is a picturesque village on the eastern border of European Union. About three hundred metres from the border post a grey small wagon surrounded with glass walls is visible, close to it seven white stone crosses and monument depicting the Ten Comandments with bullet holes, and all of these in the scenery of beautiful lush green forest. The wagaon in 1991 was used as a kind of office and checkpoint, later on it was turned into a monument protected with glass walls and covered with roof. Memorial plaque hanging on it reads that 7 customs and police officers were killed by the enemies of Lithuania’s independence. And there is no smallest mention who those mysterious enemies were, no information that perpetrators of the crime were OMON officers (OMON – Russian abbreviation meaning – Department of Police for Special Assignment). Reflections which started coming to my mind after reading the inscription focused on the reason why it did not openly name those hostile forces. One of the thoughts told me that that vague inscription on the plaque may be just the result of political realtions between Eoropean Union countries and present Russia, a kind of political corectness. Although contemporary Russia cannot be directly connected with Soviet Union, it appears that the Russian Federation under rules previously Vladimir Putin and presently Dmitriy Medvedev has not evidently distanced itself from totalitarian past. Paradox of the attitude relies on the fact that first and most severely experienced victims of the Soviet regime were just Russians.
It seems that possible inscription engraved on the memory plaque in Medininkai containing the information about 7 officials killed by Soviet forces, by OMON officers could trigger Kremlin’s anger. Present Russian government’s flirtation with totalitarian Soviet past may cause this sort of caution or even fear on the European Union states’ side which are not interested in spoiling relations with the Russian Federation.
Of course it is not the point to irritate Kremlin. One may say – what is the problem if the plaque includes information about enemies of Lithuania’s independence? But in fact what present inscription may say to people hardly knowing history? Who were those enemies? Other Lithuanianas, Russians, Belarussians? What can they get to know from that plaque?
In fact it is not a question of nationality of those „enemies of Lithuania’s independence”, but it is a question of the Soviet Union’s nature. The problem is the essence of totalitarian regimes at all. There are no doubts that Soviet Union was a totalitarian state, which did not respect liberty and dignity of individuals as well as whole groups – be these national, ethnic or social ones. OMON – Department of Police for Special Assignment was one of the armed forces which communist regime
based its power on. It was an instrument of terror, tool of repression and terrible compulsion, everyday violation of human and civil rights
So is this inspcription on the memorial plaque in Medininkai result of excessive caution or willingness to keep friendly realtions with contemporary Russia which does not want to openly condemn its totalitarian past? May it be an art of diplomacy if independent and sovereign countries become a censors for themselves and do not dare to commemorate opelny places important to their history, fight for freedom and democratic order? May there be other reasons explaining that reserve in naming crime the crime?
It is still difficult to understand anti – Israeli and anti – American stance of many European politicians. Comparing the present situation of Israeli Arabs to situation of Jews during Holocaust is the most nonsense thing, which one could imagine. It means that persons who aplly such a comparision do not understand meaning of the term “holocaust” and appear to be ignoramus.
Arab – Israeli conflic is not black and white one, there is not one party which is absolutely good and the second one – absolutely bad, as many European leftists see that, they perceive Israelis as a bad guys and Arabs as an exclusively persecuted victims.
Israelis have a right to possess their own state, and so do Palestinians. But it is absolutely unimaginable to tolerate such a situation when some groups of raidcal Palestinians demand destruction of Israel or in their fight for statehood resort to terrorism and attack innocent civilians.
It pleases me much that Polish government, especially president Lech Kaczynski so unambiguously supports politics of Israeli government. In an interview which he gaved last Saturday to the one of the mot important Polish dailies (“Rzeczpospolita”) he stated that Poles because of its historic and cultural ties whit Jews are lively interested in good relations between these two nations.
I belong to these people who – maybe naivly and sentimentally – believe in brotherhood between nations. I myself live in a town (Bialystok, north eastern Poland), where still live many nations – Poles, Belarussians, Tatars, Russians, descendants of Germans, where coexist different cultures and religions – Catholics, Orthodox faithful, Muslims, Protestants, and traces of the past are visible – former Jewish synagogues, houses, cemetaries.
When I have more free time I will translate that interview with president Lech Kaczynski, in which he spoke so much about Polish – Jewish common history, common national heros, poets, writers. Jewish presence in Poland counts about 800 years, so it is no wonder that these two nations are so close to each other. There is no other possibility than true, deep and sincere reconciliation of Poles and Jews. And it is a good news that Poland appears to be one of the most reliable Israel’s allies.
Recently Slovakians were celebrating 20th anniversary of the Candle Manifestation.
On the 25th March 1988 more than 2.000 people gathered in “Hviezdoslavovo námestie” – main square in Bratislava to show their internal freedom, freedom from fear, from communist terror. They held in their hands fired candles.
In Slovakia opposition was grounded in and supported by Catholic Church, unlike in Czech Republic, most members of Slovakian opposition were catholics, whom supported part of Catholic Church hierarchy. After the Second World War Slovakian catholics were severely persecuted by communist regime.
After the long period of apathy connected to suppressing the “Prague spring” in 1968 – prodemocratic movement on behalf of the real freedom, Slovakian society dared to show their stance toward communist government. They started to demand real religious freedom, preventing the government from interference in the internal matters of the Catholic church and last but not least – obeying the human rights by the state.
As in many other similar manifestations in communist countries militia extremely brutally dispersed peaceful demonstration with using truncheons, water cannons, many demonstrators were cruelly beaten. Afterwards Slovakian secret service started apprehensions on a large scale. Many manifestation’s participants were persecuted for their brave behaviour.
Let’s pay tribute to all members of that manifestation, all persons engaged in democratic movement and persecuted in Slovakia during communist period.
******* All the pictures above were taken from the website of Slovakian magazine “Tyzden” – http://www.tyzden.sk