Fox Nation East
From the start of the invasion, our young Ukrainian immigrant friend has been telling us that the typical Russian attitude is one of disdain, even contempt.
He’s not guessing. He speaks Russian. He’s been watching Russian news. He’s been following Russian social media.
It ain’t just Putin.
Still, our friend does have a stake in this. His family is safe out of the country, but he has friends from home in Donetsk — in the east, near the Russian border — who remained to fight. And maybe he’s a bit touchy about Russian attitudes, having grown up with them. So while we’ve had no reason to doubt him, we’ve also kept an eye out for corroboration.
Our first sign that this was a general attitude came from — of all places — Zelensky’s political sitcom, Servant of the People. There’s a funny scene where a Russian apparatchik gets sacked, and on his way out the door he bitches about having to learn that stupid Ukrainian language. (The series itself is in Russian.)
Then there are the anecdotes we’ve been seeing in passing, such as the young woman texting her mother in Russia while she was being bombed — and her mother denying that it was even possible, preferring the propaganda to her own daughter’s live experience.
Putin himself, despite smokescreens about nazis and NATO encroachment, we’ve understood from the start to be fixated on restoring Soviet-era Russian hegemony over former dominions. And as the horrors of Bucha and elsewhere have come to light, we’ve further understood that fixation to be solely about the land, its people be damned.
You may have seen examples of the Russian propaganda machine — its entire media ecosystem, now that public dissent has been banned — using Western media to enhance its message, particularly Tucker Carlson clips. And you may have wondered: Do people — Russian people — believe that shit?
Well, nobody believes Fox News, right?
That’s where we stood a few days ago — knowing these details, understanding them, but not quite tying them all together for ourself — when a Twitter thread crossed our path.
Olga Chyzh teaches political science at the University of Toronto. She’s originally from Odesa, and like our friend, still has family there. Her family escaped, but encountered now-familiar denial about the Bucha massacre from their Russian-heritage friends in Moldova.
“We call them the ‘deceived generation,’” she writes, “the last victims of Soviet propaganda.”
You know: Boomers. The core Fox audience.
Moldova, like Ukraine, has been discovering its own identity in the thirty years after the Soviet breakup. This means not just embracing a non-Russian language — in its case, Romanian — but providing opportunities to citizens who aren’t ethnic Russians, opportunities denied under Soviet rule.
“All of a sudden,” she writes, “ethnic Russians who refused to learn the national language, started getting passed over for promotions in favor of those (including ethnic Russians) who spoke the national language.”
But beyond the practical changes, there was an attitude — a familiar attitude — being challenged:
“The real obstacle was the hubris,” she writes. “Decades of Soviet propaganda (backed with repression) taught the ethnic Russians about their undeniable superiority over everyone else.“
And there, right there, everything clicked for us — everything we’ve seen in America in our six decades walking the Earth.
We know this attitude inside-out. It’s the inherent advantage — the privilege — of being among the dominant demographic in an otherwise diverse land. It’s the invisibility of other perspectives, the denial of other experiences, the commonplaces of your own life set as an inviolable standard against all others — and ultimately the denial of the very humanity of anyone else.
Now we understand — not just the propaganda, not just Carlson being the willing “Tuckyo Rose” of our time, but the shared values between American racism and Russian ethnic hegemony.
We also now understand why our young Ukrainian immigrant friend hasn’t been alone in calling Putin the new Hitler. It’s not hyperbole, it’s not even the wanton death and destruction — it’s what’s driving the entire operation.
And it’s what his American counterparts would do, given the opportunity.
Them we know.