Maybe it’s true that the world has become cynical and detached, and that nothing much moves us any more. Maybe it’s true that journalists have to dig a little harder, cut a little deeper, assume a little more controversial stance in order to rouse us from our stupor. But, boy howdy, here’s one that roused me. By the time I read through the first three paragraphs, I wanted to see the author carried aloft by flying monkeys and dropped in a pit of bubbling-hot snot, and as I continued to the end I began to regret my premature spasm of generosity. Suffice it to say I hope she’s not an alcoholic, because drinking buddies might be a little hard to come by in Moscow after this.
I honestly don’t know why I ever read anything on Open Democracy, because it plainly caters to a western audience, and panders to the most overt prejudices of that. It’s notable for introducing articles that sometimes make you shake your head slowly in wonder, like the one that featured an author who had worked up a detailed psychoanalytic profile of Putin from a newspaper article about him, not even written by Putin himself. It rarely fails to make me spitting mad, which I doubt is the desired effect; it’s supposed to make you thank your lucky stars that you live in the west, under democracy’s gleaming golden umbrella, instead of among the savages who dwell between the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Black Sea. If you actually live in Russia (you poor slob) and can read English, it’s supposed to make you semi-suicidal with anguish because you live in such a backward, despotic chamber of horrors, the very asshole of misery, and straightaway place the nearest foreign consulate under siege until you get your exit visa.
Sorry; I had to take a little break, because I was starting to hammer on the keyboard so hard that it sounded a bit like an Alex Van Halen drum solo. Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean; breathe deeply, think of soft, fuzzy puppies….Okay, I’m better now. Let’s take a look at it.
Oh, hold on a minute – I wanted to play a little guessing game first: let me give you the first few lines, and you see if you can guess the author’s profession. No peeking, now, this is a scientific experiment. Ready? Okay; here goes. ” The Domodedovo terrorist attack brings to light a whole series of issues: the negligence of the airport security services; the inability of the secret services to infiltrate terrorist networks; Russian policy in the North Caucasus generally; the international and local nature of terrorism…the good Medvedev, who promised to investigate the attack; the bad Putin, who promised that he would crack down on terrorists, and yet failed to do so.”
Okay, what’d you get? Terrorism expert/consultant? Foreign policy analyst? Political journalist? Liberal opposition figure? Ha!! She’s none of those, she’s a poet!! A pretty good one, apparently, a “laureate of the prestigious Bely Award”. But still. Come on. Would you go to a mechanic for advice on how to make bread? What in the land of hopping Jesus does a poet know about infiltrating terrorist networks? Russian policy in the North Caucasus, generally? Where are her previously published articles on the subjects? I’ll give you a tip; don’t look on Open Democracy. I did, and she has published one previous article, on poet Andrei Voznesensky. Who was apparently neither a terrorist or a North Caucasus policy expert before he was dead, which he is.
I don’t mean to suggest that poets, or anyone else, should not be allowed to state their opinions; even in print – far from it. But it should be clear from the outset that it is just an opinion; I think as we read on you will agree that this professes to go well beyond opinion and into doctrinal twaddle. Without further delay, let’s get to it.
All right, we’ve already looked at the first paragraph, although I’m sure I’ll want to return to it. The second is largely a throwaway, because it is a consolidation of popular opinions from the web, and not necessarily those of Ms. Fanailova.
Let’s start at the third paragraph, then. No, wait, wait; I can’t do it, God damn it; what in the hell does a poet know about whether or not the secret services have been able to infiltrate terrorist groups? I mean, is that the sort of thing the secret services regularly brief to the Security Council of Moscow Poets, or something? Perhaps she expects to hear it on “Utro” ; “Prime Minister Putin’s secret services report they have been successful in infiltrating North Caucasian terrorist groups at the operational planning level, despite the fact most of them do not look like Chechens or speak the language fluently: now to sports, where Spartak…” How is Ms. Fanailova able to draw a direct parallel between this supposed failure and the attack on Domodedovo, when investigators haven’t even figured out who did it yet and nobody has claimed responsibility? Does she not realize there is more than one terrorist group operating in the North Caucasus? Would infiltrating one successfully prevent all the rest from carrying out an attack? Whenever Russian forces kill a terrorist leader, his followers spread the story that Russians once again brutally slaughtered innocent civilians, and the western press happily picks it up….
Sorry. Paragraph three. According to Ms. Fanailova, the attack on Domodevo will be forgotten in a week, at the outside – couple of days, probably. Darling, who was that Ukrainian playwright who got blown to pieces at Domodevo? Where, dear? Hey, pass the blini, would you? Is there any more honey?
How could such a disaster be forgotten so quickly? Why, because Russians have no strong feelings. How fortuitous that Alexander Sokurov wrote a play that exactly describes this who-gives-a-shit attitude, thereby giving Ms. Fanailova an opportunity to showcase her performing arts chops. Not one to be confined to a single field of expertise, though, she quickly moves on to metaphysics, informing us of the commonality that exists between Islamic terror and Kremlin terror from the viewpoint of the average stoic Russian, who has learned to repress his/her fear, and display an outward appearance of unconcern. Mournful unconcern, though.
And then, somehow, in an incredible handspring of gymnastic hackery, we hear that it is this very unconcern which allowed Khodorkovsky to get sent down the river for a third time. Khodorkovsky – Mother of God, if I don’t have a stroke, it’ll be a miracle. Let me ask you this; do you think it might be possible for bootlickers to the liberal opposition to do something as simple as a shampoo commercial without tying in Mikhail Khodorkovsky the Boy Wonder, fiscal freedom fighter and wronged prisoner of conscience? Is that too much to ask?
Lest we forget, Khodorkovsky was sentenced one day short of a month ago. For the second time. Pretrial detention is not a sentence, and time served was incorporated in his initial sentencing. Assuming the largest window of mournful Russian unconcern, Khodorkovsky’s incredible travesty of justice apparently is just about exactly four times more important than the blast at Domodedovo, since we’re supposed to still remember him. Anyone who questions how Khodorkovsky made his billions, the author confides, is “collaborating with the authorities to protect their own interests”.
Khimki Forest? The decision was announced December 9th, making it about seven times as important as the terrorist bombing that killed 35 people. I’m not a fan of the destruction it has caused and will cause, but is it really supposed to leave a more lasting impression than a terrorist attack?
I thought there could be no more surprises left in this for me, but I was wrong. In an impromptu history lesson from Ms. Fanailova, I learned that “empires that build themselves on violence have to go”. Good thing Britain doesn’t have an empire any more – otherwise, they’d be very disappointed to hear that. How does she think the British Empire came about? Decided by secret ballot? Surprise! You’ve just won seventy years of colonial subjugation, let’s have a round of applause for India, folks!! Perhaps Ms. Fanailova could give me an example of an empire that was not built on violence.
I also enjoyed the little vignettes at the end. Putin, who promised to crack down on terrorists, but went squishy later and failed to be tough enough, is too hard on Islamic radicals – you can’t just go around shooting people. Besides, since Wahabbism is just as attractive as Communism, it’s attractive to potential suicide bombers. Putin must find a proactively and visibly tough way to stop radical Islamic terror immediately, while displaying understanding and respect for the merits of Islam and not killing anybody. Got it. Sounds easy enough.
Many of the radical Islamic groups in the Northern Caucasus are not native to the area, and arrived there from other countries with the aim of creating an Islamic emirate on Russia’s doorstep, a fact which appears to have eluded Ms. Fanailova. I wonder if the rest of the world is stoked at the concept of an Islamic emirate that spans 10 time zones.
Well, I don’t have answers to most of those problems, and I’m glad they aren’t mine to solve, because the situation sounds complex. Boris Nemtsov could solve it overnight, I bet, but I’m not Boris Nemtsov. Still, I’d like to help, in my own small way. Accordingly, I have a suggestion – conspicuous grief.
You should cry more. Really let the world see your anguish. Displays of unrestrained emotion are hot right now in the west. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner blubbers at the drop of a hat – does anyone accuse him of unconcern? Hardly; the voters of his home state think it makes him look strong. Mentally defective former rodeo clown Glenn Beck weeps as if his heart would break on the slightest excuse, and nobody suggests he’s repressing his fears. People on western news programs regularly give way to emotion, and the audience loves it. Get with the times, Russia!!
Of course, no change comes without cost. If the cold, unfeeling government and public-safety officials who had Domodedovo running again in a very short time had instead shrieked in grief and agony, shown how shook up they were for reporters, and perhaps gone for the bonus of screaming “this is Putin’s fault!!!”, they would have gotten much more sympathy from western-oriented mouthpieces like Ms. Fanailova. The terrorists would have been handed a much greater and more visible victory thereby, but one must take the bitter with the sweet.
If you learned to act a little more like every terrorist act had torn the heart right out of the country, you might even get your own reality show.