Thursday, October 25, 2007

One more theory about the "remark"…

I got a letter today asking for physical evidence or at least an acurate full text source for the remark. The letter went on to say that the story seemed to be allowing absolute freedom of interpretation and translation without actually having a place to question the integrity. The impression the writer of the letter got is that Lukashenko's comments were probably completely ill advised, but (potentially) not in reality a reflection of any genuinely anti Israeli or anti-Semitic sentments.

All I know is that the story and the quote are accurate and I know this because several people here heard it. What they say he said in the western news is what he said. But though an original print source or sound byte (though just as easily forged and contrived as hearsay) would have been nice to have, like a lot of things that get said and done locally, hard evidence is fleeting and often gets disappeared around here. In fact there was story of a major drug bust in Pinsk a few weeks ago where a local teacher got caught selling heroin to an undercover cop. Though this was broadcast on the first national channel, they neglected to allow it to be part of their on-line archives. This story was the same way.

The most interesting thing that has followed this story though are all of the "No, it actually wasn't anti-Semitism, though I understand I am clearly in denial" theories. In fact, there have been so many people on the web who have tried to rethink the issue, either simply by not believing that such things could be said or hoping for a misquote, that one can clearly see the the remark has brought on a real fear of a potential return to Nazi Germany. One such theory the next day from the JPost suggested that the remark was simply a favor done in return for a present from Ahmadinejad. Even if it was obviously an anti-Semitic act of terrorism, because the words were "bought", this meant the real guilty source was not Lukashenko but the president of the Iranian "down with Zionism" club. In any case though, the clear intent of the remark was to put the Jews back in their place and because Belarus took the trouble to make the remark, I guess this pretty much means that we are not just a museum for the Soviet Union, we are also a throwback to the time of the Tsars. I think they used to call things like this a "pogrom" back in the day. To me it was very, very bad and hurt a lot. Last night I got drunk and watched Fiddler on the Roof trying to get over it.

I was up early this morning and after I read that letter, I thought of another potentially real intent of Lukashenko's anti-Semitic remark from last week, this one from a more socialistic perspective. What if Lukashenko was not actually referring to Jewish people at all, but rather the sorts of people who would be referenced as per the usual stereotypically Jewish character traits and actions i.e., greedy, selfish etc? Specifically, my point is that it was not only the Jews who ran to the west in the early 90's. Though "real" Jews had an inherent excuse made (very) available to them if they wanted the visa, running away, or finding a way to get out was at one time the most popular and accepted theme. The thinking forever was that for one who lived "here" there was no chance; life was impossible and there was nothing which could be done about it and therefore "there" was either just plain wonderful or the only viable hope. Now this sort of thinking is all well and good when it is only local and nobody on the outside ever hears about it. But when those who did choose to run actually got out and then straight off started kissing ass on the other side and going on and on about how bad life was under the dictator, it made all of those who didn't run look pretty foolish. It was a major propaganda point for the west and yet another in a long, long line of black eyes for the home team. Stuck in a perpetual losing streak and wallowing in an alcohol fueled, nostalgia based depression, those unfortunate souls who couldn't muster the mental energy (or the fee for the paperwork) simply resigned and agreed with the fact that this is what it meant to have been communist. They were not smart enough to be brain drained, not pretty enough to be sold into white slavery and not clever enough to find the bribe money. They were just not good enough to go away; they were losers because they were still here.

But now as we can see from the new and improved Babruisk, Belarus and its president can point to a lot of rebuilding going on and some fresh landscapes for people to look at and think about. It also shows that there is real, concrete and physical evidence that Belarus has found its way out of its funk, there are new and real opertunities to be had and despite an ever skyrocketing Gazprom bill to pay, now is the time to invest! With the completion of the building project, the president has the sort of propaganda coup that he has wanted since the BelKa satellite mission lasted all of 27 seconds: Bobruisk has risen like a phoenix; the old image of Belarus as a loser is gone and a new, winner-of-the-race Belarus has risen from the ashes and is now (theoretically at least) a burgeoning and rebuilding yet still impeccably socialist country. Comrades and tovareshee, the job that needs to be done is here and not there, says the speech at the podium, there is no longer any need to run. The bright, golden future starts anew right here and right now.

So with this thought in mind, perhaps the "Jews" Lukashenka was referring to were not specifically those born of the faith of Abraham but in fact any greedy, selfish, money-grubbing, wanna-be capitalist pigs from the territory of the now oh-so-beautiful and newly interesting Republic of Belarus who chose to run away rather than starving or drinking themselves to death like a real men. Naming those who ran "Jews" would therefore not only be an insult from a cultural perspective, but also from socialist perspective. The insult is then completed by reminding those foolish souls who thought the golden road lay to the west that if they hadn't actually made those millions by jumping the fence, proof being in the pudding, I guess they were losers all along. And of course if they had met the challenge and had managed to find their credit cards, diamonds, furs, Rolex and a shiny, fast car, well, as all could see the new Belarus is exactly for winners so if you did find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, welcome home brat, welcome home.

Even making a point of using the specific attribute that they were "dirty Jews" has its place because the country as a whole has been a crumbling and decaying slum for years. All those lazy fools who drank themselves to death on dollar wine and two dollar vodka, blowing their wages or social allowances on trying to remain in a perpetual state of stupor rather than supporting their families; they were the real patriots. Everyone here knew that Belarus was really only biding its time, waiting for its chance to stand up and build a better tomorrow. And it wasn't like the place was an embarrassment with no culture, no hope, no perspective and the only conversation ever heard being about money. All of that was just a front. They weren't whining and crying that there wasn't enough to eat, they were just making plans about how best to rebuild their country. And not only to rebuild it, but to do so together! Nobody ever really thought that those dirty Jew Bulbos who ran away during the bad times, when the Russian banks failed, when all the money was lost, when the ruble failed twice on million percent inflation; when there was no wages and nothing on the table and everyone was a corrupt, lying whore- Those were never really the clever or smart ones, they only thought they were. Everyone knew that here was always, always, always better. I mean hey, the runners weren't even really Jews; they just called them that because that's who they acted like.

Interesting mindset, don't you think?

Anyway, this was just another theory. But if it is true, it also shows us that the gift envelope the president was saying thank you for might just as easily been from Chavez as Ahmadinejad.

(By the way, when I read this to Tatyana, she said I sounded too much like the yellow press with too many insults towards the locals. She said it sounded like the talking from someone who has been hurt or insulted. I said that I thought so too. )

More soon...


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