Skip to main content

View Diary: Understanding Russia's homophobia (179 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  A comment a day lateran (5+ / 0-)

    And on reflection.

    As I've seen us pay more attention to this,  I've had a really strange twinge from time to time, and when I woke up this morning and swung by to rec up my comments, I realized why that was.

    When I was 12 or 13 -- really young -- I went to my first democratic caucus.  Because you can't be a democrat too early, right?  Alone, because my parents knew better.  And the people there were the nice, liberal, very progressive democrats from my small university town.  And some of the resolutions we discussed were in relation to the old USSR, about nuclear weapons (more or less).  And -- they all wanted more.  More and more. Because the Russians, explained one nice lady, don't love their children like we do.  And everyone (except me, who sat silent and wide eyed for the remainder of the affair) nodded sagely or agreed.  

    It was the first time I had ever seen adults engaging in outright ethnocentrinc hate, in a group, in full self-congratulatory mode.  I have never forgotten it.  And it is part of American cultural DNA.  So when I -- as an LGBT person (I've come out as all four at different points in my life, I can say that) see us talking about Russia now, I see on one hand these very thoughtful takes on it, like this diary, and I also see...something darker, in some of us.  That moment when we reach for a generalization about them.  I think that is why I was hoping so much for a diary on this subject from a Russian speaker with a great knowledge of the culture and historical currents, like this one.   Because it is pure antidote to framing this as them, in some measure or another.

    And yes, at some periods in history, some places are so horrible to minorities that the best you can do is help people get out.  

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 06:57:53 AM PDT

    •  To complicate matters further, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, Cassandra Waites

      I'm not Russian, and there's no doubt some of the us/them framing is leaking into this.  I have a bit more experience with the language and culture, but I'm still an outsider.

      The funny thing is (if you don't mind a digression here), writing this diary went against some of my better instincts, because I have a general suspicion of grand historical narratives.  I find they're usually inaccurate bits of cherry-picked data aimed at making a complicated world easier to digest.  And that's what I've done here.  On the other hand, shy of writing an entire book, I struggled with ways of bringing out some fundamental facts of Russian history and culture that might be running tangential to our other discussions about What To Do.

      I dunno.  I'm still back and forth over this, and I'm glad you've brought these questions here.  When I first started studying Russian (ugh, 16 years ago?) my parents asked me if I'd become a communist.  They had no frame of reference outside the Cold War, Rocky IV, etc.  Living there was eye-opening; reading deeply into the cultural history was doubly so.  And yet... it feels wrong to try to reduce these dynamics into a short (sic) diary.  But it's also... useful?  Talking myself into circles once again.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 12:22:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  definitely useful (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pico

        Every act of synthesis requires some measure of simplification, and synthesis is done best by people with knowledge.   And the ways in which every simplification are a lie -- one of the benefits of academic training is the ability to nuance views so that you can synthesize and still, very roughly, mark the boundaries of ignorance.  And we all do better or worse at that, some days.  Thought this was well done, though of course everyone who writes a synthesis and has an honest soul leaves  twinging a little, I think...

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 12:27:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  is not are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pico

          not used to the macbook keyboard, yet (obviously)

          ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

          by jessical on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 12:28:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site