a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
Space to avert one’s eyes
Most evenings from 5:30 to 6:00 I engage the nightly cry. . . . err, ah, I mean The Nightly News.
So, I know that sometimes things are just too much, and we need to avert our attention from whatever it is that overwhelms us. What with the 24-hour news cycle and the ubiquity of social media, the war (i.e., Putin’s criminal aggression) on Ukraine is coming to us in more intimate ways than have ever been possible before. I have strong empathy and understanding for those who can identify with this cartoon that was recently posted on Facebook:
Image > 1,000 words
For those who are able, let’s begin with some images I’ve curated to help us face some very difficult realities presently being experienced/lived in Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin claims the Russian army is not attacking residential areas. Reality tells a different story.
About 2.5 million Ukrainians are on the run. Most are women and children, as the men are staying to fight.
A father bids goodbye to his family:
Near the border crossing to Poland:
So, perhaps that’s 2.5 million, but what about the other forty-some million? And, what’s happening back in Ukraine? Let’s see.
Teaching others how to make a Molotov cocktail:
Welding up some hedgehogs (i.e., tank countermeasures) in Odessa:
A huge problem for Putin getting very little attention is Western soft power . . .
Putin’s Janus-like posturing
Are we talking about the same Russia?
On Thursday, Sergei Lavrov stated emphatically that Russia has not attacked Ukraine, merely launched a special operation to protect Russian internal security. What?!! Full Orwell, right there!
March 9 on WAMU‘s 1A:
“Putin has invested for 20 years in this ideology of Russia victimhood — that Russia is victimized by the West … and if you call it a war then you’re the aggressor and Russia … must always be the victim,” —Ruth Ben-Ghiat
Is this the same Putin who, a week before invading Ukraine, met with President Emmanuel Macron? Twenty years establishing Russia’s victim status, yet he tells Macron a sick joke inverting that. Peter Pomerantsev writes (Guardian article here) regarding what fascism means in the context of Putin:
. . . . one small example, as Putin spoke with Macron, the Russian president casually invoked a Russian rape joke about Sleeping Beauty to explain what he would soon do to Ukraine. Conflating Ukraine and Sleeping Beauty, he gleefully put himself in the role of the rapist: “Whether you like it or not my beauty, you will need to put up with all I do to you.” (It rhymes in Russian.)
In response to Russia’s bombing of a hospital in Mariupol, President Zelensky remarked that Putin must have been trying to de-nazify the maternity ward. Of course, Putin claims that Ukraine actually bombed the hospital. Full Orwell, right there!
“Two things can be true at once”
John Mearsheimer’s contrarian view (video) blames the U.S. for war in Ukraine. Andrew Bacevich agrees (video).
I recalled the Cuban Missile Crisis in last week’s missive for two reasons. First, as I wrote then, I meant to invoke a very anxious time in America and to compare it to this moment to reveal my own sense of the gravity of the present situation. It was also to help remind us that we didn’t tolerate enemy missiles being stationed only ninety miles away. To Putin, that’s exactly what Ukrainian membership in NATO would mean.
As Chris Hedges said, the US/NATO baited/goaded Russia, but that doesn’t excuse Putin’s criminal aggression.
Orwellian worlds overlap?
The term “neo-Nazi” has been adopted by Putin as a *political technologies* weapon. The definition of the term has essentially been expanded to include all of them who oppose us. To say that Russia did not invade Ukraine, that it’s a justifiable ‘special operations’ mission to protect the Ukrainian people from neo-Nazis, is about like saying that Canada would be justified in bombing American cities to protect Canadian-Americans from militant White supremacists and White Christian nationalists.
So, how does Putin’s propaganda overlap with America’s *political technologies*? Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) recently called President Zelensky a “thug” and said the Ukrainian government is “incredibly evil,” and it has been “pushing woke ideologies.” This is where the (Orwellian) reactionary world of MAGA and DJT‘s Trumpublican Party intersects with Putin’s (Orwellian) Russian imperialist world. So, we have the *political technologies* of both groups leveraging the purity criterion to mythologize (often ‘demonize’) ‘them‘ as corrupt/reprobate/inferior in relation to “us,” the virtuous/righteous/superior ones.
Putin is criminally responsible. The US and NATO are complicit.
Next week: Another Apocalypse? Already?
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